Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Manhattan '45 : Janus year (on the Janus campus) in the Janus city

Ah, yes the year 1945 : it was the best of times , it was the worst of times.

It just all very much depended on who you chose to listen to.

To the many boosters of the baby-killing/war-ending Manhattan Project (like its leader General Leslie Groves) the year had given America the potential for global mass nuclear destruction 'too cheap to meter' : a future so bright that the world's morticians would have to wear shades.

Big Science, Big Modern Science had won the war against barbarians from the pre-scientific Dark Ages. The war's successful conclusion suggested that 1945 might just be the apogee of Modernity, all its centuries of promises finally fulfilled.

But to Theodor Adorno, Hiroshima, the Katyn Forest and Auschwitz were but the signs of the inevitable collective fall of Modernity and of the Enlightenment, no matter what varied ideological flag the mods had chosen to masquerade under.

(Cue 1945 as the nadir of Modernity and the birth year of post-Modernity.)

Indeed the tiny island of Manhattan, the former wartime home of both Groves and Adorno, had much to contribute to the global dialectic stew that year.

For the Manhattan nuclear Project seemed fully capable of delivering death to the globe at wholesale rates, promising to ensure hundreds of millions or more dead at the push of a red button.

Meanwhile, Manhattan's (natural) penicillin Project had just as dramatically brought the promise of a normal life of three score and ten to hundreds of millions or more who might otherwise expect to die prematurely from bacterial infections.

So if Manhattan's blast, heat and radiation didn't get you, its naturally brewed penicillin just might save you.

And all this happened (nuclear weapons, Adorno's musings, natural penicillin) on the Janus like campus of Columbia University in that eternally Janus like city of Manhattan in the Janus like year of 1945.

Okay, Hollywood fiction meisters, do you think you can top that ?

'Running against New York City' secret of OSRD and NAS wartime success in Washington

In 1940 New York City and New York State were at the very height of their power in the United States.

At that time, they even retained a very significant chunk of the American population - which translated into things like crucial electoral college votes.

They held an even greater percentage of the nation's wealth and financial lending clout, its best research facilities and research libraries, its biggest and most varied industrial base (from light to the heaviest of industries), its media and cultural arbitors of national taste.

It was also filled with immigrants of all sorts, with uppity Harlem Negroes, priest-dominated Roman Catholic Italians and left wing Jews : everything the rest of America : mostly native-born, white, Protestant Anglo Saxons raised in small towns feared and disliked.

FDR had lot of New Yorkers in his regime : particularly lots of lefties and Jews - it was in fact one of the main reasons why he was so disked in Washington.

But for the war effort, he recruited rock-ribbed Republicans to run many important agencies, hoping their presence would bring 'their kind of people' on board to defeat the evil Hitler.

In those days, the highest concentrations of Republicans weren't found in business offices but in universities - particularly among the senior scientists.

So no surprise that his most egghead/ivory tower oriented agencies were run by Republicans.

The most successful of these (the OSRD's nuclear committee and NAS COC penicillin committee for example) quickly realized that while their being a small town WASP Republican was good news in Washington politicians' eyes it was not enough.

They were also some of them damn dome-headed eggheads, alway out of touch with rural realities.

More was needed to win the bureaucratic war between New Deal and Republican oriented agencies over congressional funding, influence and support.

So they worked hard to ensure that as few New York City boys as possible were added into their governing councils.

They couldn't get away with having no one from New York State - so they tried for token New Yorkers - ones without dominating Alpha Male personalities : bench warmers.

Now unlike FDR himself, comparatively few truly successful people made a career and a name for themselves in the states) were they were born and raised.

J Robert Oppenheimer was raised in the very heart of enemy territory, on Manhattan Island itself, but he had become a born-again Westerner so he is hard to fit in one slot.

If Harold Urey (nuclear) and Alphonse Dochez (penicillin) fitted the token New Yorker role in not having commanding personalities in committee, neither were actually born and raised in New York City where they now lived and seemingly represented in these key national power structures.

But look over the key figures in the atomic bomb and penicillin efforts and see if you don't agree with me ....

earth-shattering Hiroshima Bomb had but one millionth the power of 1997 El Nino

Instead of always writing that this or that weather system packs the punch of x number of A bombs or H bombs , why not reflect for a moment instead on how puny the world-changing Hiroshima bomb actually was.

It probably released less destructive energy then did the first conventional firebombing of Tokyo - where the mass of rapidly burning ground level wood buildings (firestorm) added so greatly to the effect of the bombing raid that it shouldn't be judged solely on the number of tons of high explosive that were dropped.

And, repeatedly throughout the entire war, huge weather systems applying much destructive (negative and positive) energy over wide areas showed an ability to stop even the largest invasions known in history literally in their (tank) tracks.
One thinks in particular of the threat of unexpectedly wicked storms in the shallow narrow English Channel that so hampered German and Allied invasion plans.

Or of the ability of monsoons to halt even the most sturdy/primitive war making in its (jungle), tracks from India to the western Pacific.

But even very low positive energy weather systems (think of the persistent cloud cover over North West Europe for example) can stymie the most carefully planned 1000 bomber raids.

And the massive negative energy of a stationary Russian cold air mass could stall the world's largest land invasion ever , as it literally seems to suck all the motive energy out of humans and the (heat) engines powering their tanks and trucks.

Another way to regard weather as a source of massive negative energy is to look at the the effect that a complex mixture of relatively moderately unsettled weather could have on Germany's fragile wartime domestic food harvests.

For food is measurable in quite conventional units of heat energy calories and a lack of food energy in Germany's own harvests usually meant people elsewhere by the tens and tens of millions went hungry and many died of huger-related diseases, from the Netherlands to Auschwitz. 

So, we talked about carpet bombing a lot during WWII but that is all that it was : talk.

Real carpet bombing is the pelting rain down from a massive monsoon that literally covers an eighth of the entire Earth's surface with a carpet of water.

Unlike today's man-made C02 crisis, Man really did virtually nothing to Mother Nature in WWII : she made all the rules and set all the paces.

The Hiroshima bomb was small potatoes indeed against her powers : only in their Hubris did WWII men approach the size of the 1997 El Nino ...

"Janus Manhattan" : home to both wartime's synthetic plutonium death-dealing and to natural penicillin lifesaving

Why write fictions about Manhattan --- when its real life is so much more exciting than anything Hollywood screenwriters could ever dream up ?

What cautious Hollywood studio boss is ever going to greenlight a fictional script that sets up the Nash Garage Building at Manhattan's 133rd Street and 3280 Broadway as the wartime home of the death-delivering technology that produced almost all of the world's nuclear weapons and the Lutheran Hospital at Manhattan's 144th Street and 343 Covent Ave as the birthplace of the push for providing lifesaving penicillin for all ?

Janus Manhattan : home to both Gordon Gekko and Emily Lazarus

It all seems to be too neat and too cosy a location for such a monumental clash of human values : to set this cosmic clash in two small buildings half a mile from each other, two buildings that are within sight of each other from their top floors.

But it actually happened that way - the same tiny space , the same brief moment in time : the Summer of 1943 : working to producing endless Little Boy death bombs versus working to save the life of one little baby girl named Patty Malone.

I suppose - pace Tom Wolfe the younger -Manhattan fiction allows an author to gild the lilly.

 But first you must start with really beautiful lillies.

And non-fictional Manhattan has them in buckets ...

"Climate Hubrists" : deniers of any limits to human ability to control reality

I separate Holocaust deniers from Climate Change deniers, I really do.

Most Holocaust deniers deny that the event ever happened - and continue to deny that, even in their heart of hearts.

But Climate Change deniers only pretend in public that they believe human-originated harmful Climate Change isn't happening and won't happen.

What they really and not so secretly believe - in their particular heart of hearts - is that Man can easily solve any bad climate change, or indeed any other global disaster that might happen, as fast and as easily as any comic book Super Hero might.

The denier/hubrists don't really read the bible and they don't really read many books.

Climate 'hubrists' a more accurate term than 'deniers'

But if you do the arithmetic, you will see that all active "climate change deniers" (I prefer to call them "Climate Hubrists") under the age of eighty-five had to grow up reading super hero comic books.

Those super hero ideas and conceits (along with Fox TV News, Talk Radio and the commentators on the sports channels) have in practise become the common intellectual currency of our age for people of an anti-intellectual cast, replacing things like the Sears Roebuck catalogue and the King James Bible.

Why else would Googling Climate Change and Manhattan Project produce 1.5 million results ?

A new Manhattan Project can't stop any global environmental crisis : in fact the old one produced - via worldwide strontium 90 fallout from local testing - the very first man-made global environmental disaster we ever knew.

But millions - and probably ultimately billions of people world wide - still take it as a comforting solution to our current climate change crisis.

It is a pity then that the names Robert Jewett , John Sheldon Lawrence and H Bruce Franklin are not better known among those combating the climate deniers/hubrists.

I recommend to all of us who are wondering why we are losing the public battle of opinion over the existence (or not) of harmful human climate change to spend some time reading , in combination, Jewett's & Lawrence's many books and articles on the "American (superhero) Monomyth", together with Franklin's classic "War Stars", about the enduring belief in a single superweapon ending all wars.

(Geo-engineering, in this context, might be regarded as the latest high tech superweapon - this time against incoming weather rather than incoming aliens.)

Instead of looking to wartime Manhattan's nuclear Project, we need rather to look to wartime Manhattan's (natural) penicillin Project for a pathway showing how when we work with Mother Nature, enduring good things happen.

Work with Nature instead of against her  ? Unimaginable to denier/hubrists.

Because the only thing the deniers ever really deny is any limits to the human ability to control physical reality --- and that reads as Hubris in my book....

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Stanley Baldwin : through rain, sleet, or snow - in a triumph of the will - the bomber always gets through, like Superman they're faster than a speeding bullet

Other than by specialists , Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin of Britain is little remembered today --- except for this simple and rather commonplace remark that he made in 1932 - one that merely reflected back the view held by all modern civilized people in his day.

Unfortunately - as we learned during WWII - this remark (belief) hardly reflected reality - out there in the cold, dark, windy and rainy real world.

But then when do the thoughts of middle class, middle aged, well educated people ever do that ?

A good family name, a good income and a good university education practically guarantees you the right to sit in an armchair pontificating on everything and anything without ever once testing it with a real finger in a real wind.

And truth told, Baldwin didn't actually use those words - but he certainly implied them - them and much more.

Because his speech didn't even count the weather and hours of daylight as factors in his claim (no one else ever did then either).

Baldwin, with all Modernity bromidizing at his side in somnolent agreement, merely felt that the multi engined bombers in 1932, being basically slighter faster than that era's single engine fighter aircraft, could always push through an attack against the best in human resistance.

Leni Reifenstahl actually made her film Triumph of the Will to celebrate Germany's airpower around this very point.

 But her film could have just as easily have been made on commission for RAF Bomber Command or the Bomber mafia of the US Army Air Force --- without too many fundamental changes.

The film's precis was that a single Modern Man (read: Superman) could best an army of un-modern men and as for Mother Nature, she was but a passive backdrop to this human drama happening at the front of the stage.

In reality, while Nature bats last , she also bats hard : bowling Modernity totallyout by 1945 --- ushering in Nature-friendly post-Modernity...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Enough already about War's impact on Nature : what about Nature's impact on War ?

With only the very best of intentions, environmentalists have tended to focus on what war does to nature - say for example, in reviewing the impact of leaking oil from the thousands of oil tankers sunk at the sea during war in the last 120 years.

But again, totally unintentionally, all this effort tends to show Man as all-powerful (here in a war mode busy destroying nature) and Mother Nature as basically an endless victim.

But in fact, the reverse is true.

History is replete with examples where Mother Nature has effortlessly shattered the over-arching hubris of war-makers : any number of  history-changing examples spring to mind - usually where unexpected bad weather destroys the plans of invasion fleets - on the water, in the air, over land.

But bad weather leading to bad harvests works just as well : the course of the Nazi Holocaust follows more exactingly the wavering course of the annual German domestic harvest results than it ever does the wavering course of the brain chemicals inside Adolf Hitler's head.

In 1939, no side expected WWII to last so long and cost so much in lives and material : what really prolonged it on both sides was modernity's failure (in peace as in war) to calculate in the truly awesome powers of climate and geography compared to the still puny powers of man's ideologies, demographies and technologies.

Viewed this way, WWII becomes less a contest of man against man, of ideology and technology against ideology and technology and more an unequal donnybrook between man-the-feeble and Mother-Nature-The-Mighty.

My blog and book series, un-superheroes, will provide many such weather/climate/geography examples from our LAST global disaster, WWII, because our current global disaster is once again a man versus climate fight - one where the speedy application of any past learned lessons could literally save our lives ...

Manhattan's OTHER Project : Gotham's penicillin un-superheroes (and why they are ignored by academics)

If another secretive, undemocratic, big science Manhattan Project is more likely to cause a global environmental disaster (think nuclear winter or geo-engineering) than prevent it - then does the experiences of wartime Gotham have anything at all to still teach us, as we face global climate meltdown ?

Well, unbeknownst to virtually all, Manhattan actually had another ( far different) wartime project that still has lessons for today.

Its global effect were almost as big as that of the much better known atomic Manhattan Project, but by pointed contrast to it, it was near universally always warmly received worldwide.

Because Manhattan's real enduring gift to humanity during and after the war years was not The Bomb (or the infamous Norden Bombsight) but rather bog-ordinary cheap available-to-all public domain natural penicillin. You know - the stuff the academics are always telling us that the British gave us.

Now I sometimes joke that the only reasons the Scandinavians didn't give a joint Nobel Peace Prize to Stalin and Hitler was because the Nordics ran out of time - the guys died first.

But joking aside, the Nobel prize choices have rarely stood up well to the test of time.

Admittedly, Mr Nobel's naive requirements that everything significant that is discovered or invented was brought to mass use or mass knowledge by no more than three (still living) individuals does force the Nobel prize selection committees into mindless contortions.

Still - what of earth were the Nordics thinking - or not thinking - when the medicine committee gave the 1945 Nobel prize for penicillin to Fleming and Florey ?

After his 1928 discovery, Alec Fleming's main contribution was to tell everybody within earshot (for 15 wasted years) that penicillin would only work if used as a topical antiseptic (it doesn't work well there) and would NEVER work if taken internally (when in fact it works miraculously well there.)

Moreover he said it would never be useful for patients until artificially synthesized when in fact it never has : all clinical penicillin and the bulk of all of today's antibiotics (yes even today !) are still derived from natural penicillin made by fungus.

In this particularly obtuse claim, he was more than fully supported by chemist manque Howard Florey.

In fact Florey led the Allies' wartime charge to repeatedly try and to repeatedly fail to make penicillin by artificial (patentable) methods, rather than to simply produce enough natural (public domain) penicillin to meet current desperate wartime needs.

And Florey and Fleming, both strong supporters of the Conservative Party, fully backed the Conservative politicians in Britain's wartime coalition government who wanted to limit wartime penicillin production to only lightly wounded front line troops.

None for severely wounded troops or any home front civilians in Allied nations and colonies; none for civilians in Neutral, Occupied or Enemy countries - none for Allied POWs, let alone for enemy POWs !

All this because it had been determined that diverting British resources to set up enough British natural penicillin bottle plants in unused buildings to supply all military and civilian needs for the world (and thus to secure a postwar Pax Britannica based on this wartime humanitarian effort) would cost about ten million pounds.

And that was also enough for at least one or two more additions to Bomber Command's already many heavy bomber squadrons.

Since 1932 and Prime Minister Baldwin's famous speech, it had been become the 40th Article of the Conservative Party faith that 'the bomber always gets through' and that destroying people and not saving them was the Conservative way to the moral high ground and winning any war.

But what really made wartime penicillin the world's best known/best loved medicine is that as the last dying act of the New Deal, a new Pax Americana had suddenly made cheap non-patented (natural) penicillin abundantly available to all - wartime friend and foe alike.

But none of these good guys , none of the Americans (and a Canadian) centred in NYC who were mostly responsible for this boon to humanity, ever received a Nobel Prize or public acclaim for the miracle of cheap-penicillin-for-all : only the bad guys.

Because the good guys' approach couldn't have been more different than the atomic Manhattan project.

They were open about their intentions and pragmatically and morally committed to saving the little guy. They wasted little taxpayer money and resources and instead combined a 'little science' approach with a ruggedly low tech engineering style.

All of this was anathema to academics (including non scientists like historians) who wanted to ballyhoo the supposed wartime triumphs of heavily taxpayer funded basic science-big science as a way to getting the taxpayer to permanently fund their postwar hobbyhorses.

So - in a brazen conflict of interest and in violence to the known facts - academics have tended to give all the penicillin acclaim to the big science advocates (cum penicillin bad guys).

To those who were actually most dedicated to keeping wartime penicillin a much delayed, scarce and patented exclusive drug.

So Drs Florey and Fleming in Britain , along with Drs A N Richards and Chester Keefer in the States , got all the acclaim.

Logrolling is what they call this sort of stuff it in politics - I don't know what they call it inside the ivory tower bunker : false weighting of the scales of evidence maybe ?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Manhattan Projects cause (rather than end) global environmental disasters

The year of 1945 was an unalloyed triumph for modernity thanks to  Allied big science's A-bomb decisively defeating the pre-modernity Axis.

But 1945 was also the start of post-modernity (and hence the start of the decline of the hegemony of modernity).

Because millions of people worldwide were repulsed by what the Modernity Project had done during the war - at Auschwitz , Katyn Forest and Hiroshima - and so had begun looking for ways wherein humanity worked with Mother Nature, rather than sought total control over her....

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Since Manhattan Project caused first global environmental crisis, it can hardly solve the new one ...

If your baby isn't dying from an overdose of Strontium 90 from mother's breast milk , it isn't for want of trying on the part of the permanently teenage males who brought us the first Manhattan Project.

They would have polished and re-polished the turd that is atomic bombs , with their deadly atmospheric tests, until all of us were full of atomic fallout radiation - including themselves.
That's the thing about dumb fucks - they can't stop harming even themselves .

Thankfully some of them became enlightened before they died (and a wrathful God forcefully did it for them).

But what then is the excuse of the permanently twenty something male (once again !) down the street who emerges from his make believe world of super hero comic books just long enough to earnestly inform us that "... another Manhattan Project , maybe in geo-engineering , will quickly solve any climate problem - if that problem actually exists...".

Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as 20/20 non-hindsight ....

'Weaponizing' the Wind

The Allies actively 'weaponized' the wind to increase the lethalness of two death-creators during WWII (fire bombs and atomic radiation) and had fall back plans to use it with two others (chemicals and germs).

The Axis did weaponize the wind with the latter two (Japan with germs and Italy with chemical gas).

But it may be said that the elites of these modern nations all did so very, very reluctantly --- even secretly.

For handing over some of their total powers over life and death to Nature (the wind) was as about as comfortable for these male elites of superior races as it would be if they offered to share those powers with women, the poor , the unfit and the lesser races.

For pre WWII modernity was all about illusions of total control and total precision and total predictability and the wayward wind held none of those attributes.

How modernity really wanted to fight WWII was with the Norden Bombsight, able - it was claimed - to unerringly drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from 25,000 feet.

 The Norden and its equivalents in long range land artillery, battleship guns and long lance torpedoes would make victory swift, almost bloodless and cheap.

WWII , of course, was anything but.

So a year or two into the unexpectedly long war, most modernist elites reluctantly - and secretly - changed tack.

Germ and gas (wind-carried) warfare had never been totally ignored but were quite low in priority - now more money was poured into secret efforts to make them workable weapons of war --- if desperate need required it.

National leaders went on parroting in public their bomber commanders' line that precision use of high explosives would take out vital enemy industrial assets without killing many civilians - but more and more mixed in with the (in)precise HE bombs were largely un-publicized fire bombs.

The HE was really only there to calm public and armed forces consciences ---- and to 'open up' buildings so the fire bombs could work better with the far more inflammable material inside.

If the weather had been dry enough and the wind was just right, and enough fire and HE bombs fell in the centre of a very big city in a short enough period, a self-sustaining firestorm could do far more damage than any single WWII atomic bomb was capable of.

The updraft from the intense concentrated burn drew in air/oxygen from all sides at ground level - creating intense winds and mimicking exactly the bellows that allows primitive furnaces of wood charcoal (think civilian wood framed homes) and lots of oxygen to effortlessly melt ores and metals... and human bodies.

Once having gotten over their public (and private) distaste for using imprecise fire bombs to mostly kill civilians rather than to destroy hard-to-hit factories, elites on the Allied side looked again at nuclear radiation which they had earlier rejected.

(Earlier very modest funding had really been directed at the possibility of nuclear boiler engines for ultra long range submarines.)

It had always been easy to powderize low grade nuclear material (even just enriched ore) and drop it into the wind over a huge city as basically a terror radiation weapon.

But now the claims by some that atoms could be used in a bomb that had HE like blast effects and fire and radiation effects was irresistible for some in the Allied elite.

The public would be lied to and told the new bomb worked by old fashioned blast effects and precision - indeed the atomic bombs were dropped with the aid of the Norden bombsight - but in fact they would mostly kill by wind-fed fire and wind-carried fallout radiation.

Man just had to claim WWII victory at Hiroshima - not Nature.

But Nature listens to no master and Axis-intended radiation dropped at Hiroshima was instead wafted back into Allied children's milk all over the world.

The 'Victory Bomb' was actually our very first man-made global weather cum environmental disaster.

Still think our current climate change disaster can be easily solved by just another 'Manhattan Project'  superhero quick-fix ??

Thursday, December 25, 2014

1943 : War Movie vs Film Noir , Captain America comics vs Joe & Willy comics

I would argue - I do argue - that the most Noirish 'gotcha' of all WWII was the simple one panel Bill Mauldin cartoon that won him a Pulitzer prize in 1945.

That cartoon's title is a quote from an actual news report, repeated at the top verbatim :

"Fresh, spirited American troops, flushed with victory, are bringing in thousands of hungry, ragged, battle-weary prisoners"

Just one sentence from hundreds of thousands of similarly morale-uplifting sentences published on all sides of that six long years of the war.

But below it was Mauldin's simple pencil strokes depicting weary despondent Allied troops (infantry riflemen like his famous Joe and Willy) escorting equally weary despondent Axis infantry POWs to the rear , all engulfed in a cold driving rain.

At second and third glance the cartoon is actually quite hard to read - both sets of infantrymen look so much alike in their miserable state.

Eventually you figure out that the American GIs have their distinctive steel helmets while the Axis have forage caps.

Professor and author Paul Fussell also served in the the infantry in WWII - as a very junior officer- and he knew full well what this cartoon captured.

In one of his best books, entitled Wartime , he zeroed in on petty chickenshit , as he and millions of other front line troops called it.

That constant modern need to plenticide the complexities of a global war into a simple black and white parable between the always good guys in white hats and the always bad guys in black.

As a Modernity-destroying rebuttal, this masterwork of art, this simple cartoon, was right up there with books like Catch 22 or films like Double Indemnity ...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Noirs & Music Videos : share same basic narrative structure

The classic Noir narrative structure is a deliberately disorienting mix of two main activities.

One (the frame) features reflective and recollecting voice overs from the protagonist, this quiet, intimate vocal mixed up high over the relatively silent visuals (action, sfx but no important dialogue).

These voice over sequences set up the dialogue and action heavy parts of the noir, mostly events from the past, cast as if they are occurring in the present, in real time.

It all reminds me of the way most music videos work - the sequences of the singer at a mike singing have a boring visual background , if they have one at all. The words, usually of non-repeated 'verses' - reflective and recalling , are everything.

The singer - for example - recalls their lost lover.

In the dialogue and action segments (the so called actors' bits--- even if the singer is now one of those actors), there is frequently either no singing at all (the action occurs against an instrumental solo)  or the only singing is the 'voices off' repetitious singing of an already frequently heard (and unsubtle) vocal chorus, more meant to be emotionally felt than intellectually dissected in the foreground.

Here we see scenes of the singer and lover when they were happy and still together.

The song bridge might be the place in the narrative where the nominal cause for the breakup is described in words (voice over - voices off) and seen in the visuals.

In noir or music video it is a very flexible way to produce depth and narrative complexity --- cheaply.

What's there not to love about that ?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

When they stopped making noirs, they stopped making babies : the Noir & Baby Boom, 1940-1959

Why I don't know.

Maybe I got it completely backwards , maybe when they stopped making babies they stopped making Noirs.

I just don't know.

Perhaps it is all just a big coincidence.

Or a giant conspiracy - up there or way down here.

I really don't know ....

'Rogue Boomers' : optimistic, naive

If we ever do encounter a 'spot of bother' (their words) over global warming, Rogue Boomers fervently expect the engineering equivalent of the tooth fairy or superman to waft over and quickly sort it out .

Their forebears used to worship scientists and science , so this is a bit of a change - because these Boomers don't like scientists, at least as they imagine them to be.

University profs mostly, sitting in ivory tower labs, forever dissing this or that sincere effort to 'grow' the economy.

What they do still like are engineers - at least they imagine them to be - actually often their imagined engineers are scientists - field or production scientists employed by private industry.

Pose any big crisis at these Rogue Boomers and just wait for it : yep, within a minute or two, they are sure to pull out the 'it just needs another Manhattan Project - this time for cancer - to solve it'.

Big Science - Big Money - Big Faith : throw enough at it and any problem will go away.

By contrast, my segment of that same Boomer generation, those of us I call the 'Noir's Children', just as confidently expect that 'anything that can go wrong, will go wrong'.

It is not as if we always grimly shut off the TV after viewing a downbeat Film Noir and go put our heads in the oven.

It is more that if a mysterious light ever glows overhead and a thousand soldiers arrive to seal off the site , we don't take it on faith when some guy in a suit arrives and says "I'm from the FBI in Washington - and I am here to help."

Ronald Reagan conservatives bought that line - the Rogue Boomers still buy that line - but we don't ...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Elizabeth May - unlike Stephen Harper - is NOT a 'Rogue Boomer'

It is interesting to speculate why Elizabeth May, so similar in age to Stephen Harper, is so different in her attitude.

While Elizabeth is only 4 years older than Harper, I think she benefited from having an activist mom who introduced her children to adult issues at least a dozen years before many others first seriously think about them.

(Ie as young adults, after their upbringing in their formative years have hardened into dogma --- and when it is thus too late !)

I think I was a relatively ordinary child until I was ten, when a sudden change of circumstance separated me from a neighbourhood of kids playing outside and left me with only adult aged books and adult aged news magazines for boon companions.

Almost instantly, kids even a fair bit older than me seemed immature and boring and I much preferred to hang about with educated adults.

Ten - and an intellectual snob !

But as a result, my recollections of the Fifties (coincidentally my years before I was ten) is almost 100% childlike sunshine - while the early Sixties (my true formative years) are cast in the darkest direst most adult-like Noir.

I suspect that Harper had a perfectly ordinary childhood and that he never even suspected he'd just played tag and keep away during some of the most exciting years of the century - until he was in university.

Then regret-filled nostalgia kicked in - and he's been trying to relive the glory days of Fifties Big Fin Cars, Scientism and Golly Gee Modernity ever since...

First Wave Boomers must help transition Second Wave Boomers into the new world

My history professor, Judith Fingard (born in 1943) , myself (born in 1951) and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (born in 1959) are all considered to fit the definition of Baby Boomer by most authorities on that vexed subject.

Stephen Harper, Rogue Boomer

But Fingard and myself actually knew Modernity at first hand, before easing ourselves into PostModernity - while Harper only read about Modernity in a book.

Even I, going through school eight years after Fingard , had plenty of teachers whose key formative years were during Edwardian times before the calamity of WWI - the age cohort that I consider the most ardently pro-Modernity of that entire era.

We both got Modernity's values both barrels in our schooling - and Modernity was still mostly in the driver's seat in the outside world, in areas like human rights and social values, until late in the 1960s.

But by then Judy and I had both left our High School in Dartmouth Nova Scotia - but Harper was not yet even in Middle School.

And in a growing prosperous Toronto suburb such as Harper lived in, I suspect that even his Middle School teachers were mostly a generation younger than the equivalent ones had been for me or Fingard.

(Because just a couple of years after I left High School, the high school teacher population in Dartmouth seemed to undergo an abrupt generational change --- a change that seemed to lag by a few years the situation in more rapidly growing and prosperous areas of North America.)

"Super Hero Modernity"

What Rogue Boomers like Harper mostly peddle is nostalgia for a super hero-like Modernity they never personally know.

And as usual in such circumstances, their very best customers are themselves.

So we First Wavers have a moral duty to our Second Wave fellow Boomers .

Because we are truly unique : once almost fully comfortable as modernists, we are now also almost fully comfortable as postmodernists.

To adapt George Orwell's (& Henry Miller's) famous phrase, we have been comfortable inside two whales.

We have successfully made the transition from the old way of thinking into the new - while knowing both.

Stephen Harper and his climate destruction denying buddies, 1930s hubris combined with 21st century high tech tools , will rampage across the entire planet and destroy it for all future generations - unless we other Boomers can help them make the needed transit into the new ways of regarding the world...

why focus on Allied FAILURES of WWII ?

Why not focus on the Axis failures of WWII ?

Why not, you say, use a sawed-off shotgun at short range on a big fish in a small barrel ?

Hum, tempting  - too tempting obviously for all the world's Rogue Boomers - people like Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott : 'we won the war, did nothing wrong, so no need to change nothing, carry on, business  as usual.'

Rogue Boomers with short noses are more than usually handicapped by nature - being so unable to see beyond the end of it.

All three sides* in WWII expected a short cheap war - and all sides were wrong : that is the real lesson of WWII : the naivete easy optimism of pre-war Modernity and Scientism was revealed to all - or rather should have been.

(*Because remember, for a shamefully long time, the majority of the world's population was not at Germany or Britain's side but rather was Neutral.)

We don't have to wait till the current climate change crisis plays out to drawn the needed lesson that there is no pointing denying that there are limits to human abilities to control unpleasant change.

We already had the lesson - and the exam - during the six bloody and long and disappointing years of WWII : when time and time again all sides were told that a technology breakthrough, a new superweapon, would end the war quickly, cheaply and painlessly.

The truth be known, the WWII traffic in super hero instant solutions between children's comic books and senior leaders' Minute books are unceasing ....

'Rogue Boomers' : Running our world ; ruining our planet

When one thinks of Rogue Boomers, one immediately thinks of people like prime ministers Stephen Harper (born 1959) and Tony Abbott (born 1957) --- and not just because they are currently leading the charge (from the rear) against doing anything substantial about man-made climate disaster.

Rather it is something so unexpected about the vivid contrast between their still-baby faces and their totally Old School ways of thinking that humans can control the natural world - thinking we'd might expect more from their grandfathers, let alone their fathers.

Yes, those I call Noir's Children , the most vocal (and regrettably the smallest) segment of the Boomer kids got it, successfully absorbed the dire lessons (on all sides) from WWII , and adjusted their thinking.

But the Rogue Boomers ( the silent majority of my Boomer generation) carried right on as if nothing had changed, still believing in the simplistic old pre-war ways , despite Science (reluctantly) revealing an ever more complicated world.

It was as if they were to be frozen in aspic, forever locked into a time warp with the first generation of comic book super heroes.

Entombed forever within WWII's golden age of superheroes, superpowers, super-weapons and super-easy solutions to controlling unpleasant reality....

Silent Majority Boomers - not their parents - running (and ruining) this planet

I've changed my thinking - at least a little.

The unacknowledged divisions within the Boomer Generation

I still believe that the most extreme and the most vocal supporters of climate change denial are older people - men mostly - in their eighties - people who were teenagers at the very apogee of Modernity and who thus naturally find it hardest to change ingrained habits.

Rupert Murdoch is a prime example of this sort of 'changed reality'  denier.

But Murdoch and his generation aren't running and ruining this world - at least not officially.

My generation - the Boomers - is.

Clearly not all of us Boomer kids fully absorbed the obvious lesson from WWII : that there actually are limits to even supermen's ability to control reality.

Not all of us Boomers - not by a long shot - successfully made The Transition from the old ways of thinking (ones that had fueled the Enlightenment Project for nearly 500 years) to the needed new ways of thinking.

These Boomers weren't the most vocal or most visible part of the Boomer generation (recall the Sixties protests), but like their parents before them,  they formed a powerful - if largely reticent - silent majority.

Some of these silent majority Boomers are now prime ministers, presidents, CEOs, media publishers etc but most are not.

They are simply voters and consumers who might even (feebly) talk the new talk - but when it comes to their pocketbook at the gas pump and the ballot box, walk (or rather drive) the old walk.

And if we can't help them make The Transition - and soon ! - subsequent generations might never get a chance to live out their expected three score and twenty five ...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nothing links new Baby Boomers to the old : its always about content , not container

A new , relatively little known , baby boom is underway - in terms of babies produced per family of baby-makers , one that is far far bigger than the better known and older Baby Boom.

By the conventional measure of 'Baby Boomer' impact, this then should be big news.

But the conventional explanation for the importance of the post WWII Baby Boom is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

It was not our sheer massive size that made Noir's Children, (those of us born between 1940 and 1956) so important in historical terms.

But size does matter for today's baby boom, despite it being smaller in absolute size than the post war boom.

Confused ?

The post war baby boom was a society wide event : so it only produced differential consequences when set against the generations before and after it - not within its current generation.

But today's baby boom is limited mostly to religious fundamentalists : Christian evangelicals and the Orthodox sections of the Jewish and Moslem faiths.

Eventually, by sheer weight of numbers, these children of the religiously orthodox could dominate the religiously moderate or unchurched - at the ballot box, in the job market, as consumers.

Today's baby boomers are important because of their relative growth , as set against the growth of the child population as a whole.

I am far from denying the importance of the size of the post war Baby Boom as set against the previous generation and all later generations to date.

But note well my qualification: I now limit its impact, looking backwards, to only the previous generation.

Because if we are looking for truly massive baby booms within western culture , the mid Victorian era is a very good place to start.

The post WWII baby boom was really small potatoes in terms of total numbers of kids per couple.

More a tendency for more couples to marry and for far more to marry early, then to have 2.5 kids in a few short years right after marriage.

Set this against the immediately earlier generation, with fewer couples ever marrying, and most marrying later in life , and then having only 2.0 kids - spread over many more years.

(For the sake of my argument, don't take my various numbers of children per couple as gospel - they clearly varied between various countries - its the time compression trend that I regard as more universal and more crucial.)

But in mid Victorian times, better weather, better food supplies, better public health had all led to a rising chance that any child born would actually live to adulthood.

But parents hadn't sensed this change fully and they went on trying to have the traditional ten pregnancies.

That led to a truly massive baby boom that is still echoing on.

But it never got a name because its impact doesn't seem to have been that apparent to contemporaries - despite its much bigger size than the post WWII baby boom.

I suggest the key difference is that the post war Boomers felt and acted differently enough from all their elders (elders all the way back to the beginnings of the Enlightenment Project) to represent a real rupture in History.

Yes, every generation reacts against its parents and grandparents --- but fundamentally rejecting the key tenets of 500 years of continuing western culture is, by any definition , a truly rare event.

When my generation failed to reproduce the ongoing Enlightenment Project , it was doomed to die out with the last surviving pre-Boomer.

My age cohort - by its mild but firm total disinterest in and rejection of the Enlightenment Project killed it stone dead.

My proposed title for my age cohort - dismissing the term "Baby Boomer" as near empty of explanation - "Noir's Children" - hints as to why my generation fundamentally rejected Modernity.

As well as to the true reason why History cares - and should care - about us postwar Baby Boomers cum Noir's Children ...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Noir films reveal the disconnect between Breen Office moral uplift and the darker reality of America

Contrary to general opinion, Noir films do not just show the grimmer parts of American life.

Their particular effectiveness is to give you both the official version and then show you the unofficial reality.

It was a bit like public school and high school in my day : we got plenty of sunny uplift from our unaltered textbooks, '40s and '50s NFB films and present day CBC radio school broadcasts.

But just outside the classroom, TV's noir and sci fi horror movies , combined with tv newscasts, told us all was not really that rosy in the human animal kingdom.

Of course, learning in school and on television about good old Uncle Joe Stalin's Katyn Forest mass graves, Auschwitz, DDT, Thalidomide and Nuclear Fallout had already prepared us to trust film noir far more than any government official ....

Noir's Children : the teenagers who MADE Mo go Po

Noir's Children (my particular birth cohort of 1940-1956) those of us born 'after the Fall of France but before the Rise of Elvis' - were virtually unique in being perfectly comfortable living inside TWO whales .

Those two whales being the Modernity (Mo) of our childhood and early teen years and the emerging Post Modernity (Po) of our late teen years and early adult years.

We still remain unique in this regard - we are old enough to remember believing in our elders' tattered Modernity but with minds not so rigidly formed we couldn't also take on the attributes of an emerging Post-Modernity - which was the only reality our younger siblings ever knew first hand.

My cohort did not just feel the transition from one era to another : we were that transition.

Modernity only died when it failed to reproduce itself in its young

For it was our failure to carry on the ideas of Modernity as we matured that condemned Modernity to a slow sad certain death as our  still-faithful elders died off, one by one.

Why our post WWII birth cohort - and not any earlier birth cohorts - came to reject the centuries-old Enlightenment Project is the subject of this blog and of my book projects .

And like many exciting things, it all begins in wartime Gotham  - where the reigning American Super Hero was not the comic books' Superman, Batman or Captain America but rather a squat balding middle aged Dutch-Swiss-American called Carl Norden.

His invention , a bombsight that was claimed to unerringly drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from three miles up - was going to end the war ( even end all wars) quickly, cheaply and with minimum loss of civilian lives.

As a result, the British and American governments of the day in 1940 saw no need for spending serious amounts of taxpayers' monies on either atomic bomb or penicillin development.

In their experts' eyes, the atomic bomb was serious overkill (literally) and life-saving penicillin, rather like old fashioned infantry riflemen, wasn't really going to be needed in a short modern war of minimum casualties.

The best laid plans .....

Noir only talks of emperors to claim they have no clothes

Noir actually doesn't really talk - much less frankly : the Breen Office put full stop to that idea.

But its small scale and relatively personal dramas among downmarket nobodies are free to cast a highly suggestive and subversive mood - and they do - in (Sam) spades.

Their mood clearly suggests that corruption, double-crossing and deception extends through all aspects of human life - not just in the lower ranks where dis-honour among working class thieves has long been taken for granted by the upper crust.

That the big double cross actually extends upwards to (or is that 'extends downwards from' ?) the sunny, sacred, servants of the people top of national society.

And beyond. Far beyond.

With Nazi Germany's abrupt 'Pact with' and then 'Attack upon' communist Russia being perhaps the ultimate double cross - particularly to the left wing writers, directors and movie critics who responded by creating Film Noir in the years immediately following Germany's sneak attack upon its new ally.

When, in turn , mainstream Hollywood's newest best buds, Russia and America, also suddenly fell out with heated criminations, it only further fuelled Film Noir's downbeat deconstruction of the overly sunny "official version" of reality ...

'Noir Science' of the 1940s

Compared to the complex , indeterminate and unresolved plots of 1940s Noir films, mainstream Hollywood plots - then and now - tend to look like they had all been successfully predicted centuries in advance by Isaac Newton or Pierre-Simon Laplace.

Predictable, determinist, reductionist, logical, elegant : words of praise in Science - and in mainstream Hollywood.

It as if news of the 20th century revolutions in probability theory, quantum theory, contingency theory et al has never reached mainstream Hollywood.

Okay - a commonplace criticism of Hollywood plot-making.

But what if we reversed the criticism : searched scientific theories to see if some of them displayed the makings of a well-made Hollywood plot and others  displayed more Noirish plotting ?

I can think of many.

For example , the 1920s saw a fierce and highly personal counterattack by the geological establishment defending Charles Lyell's vision of a slow gradual orderly geology against the new unpredictable geology revealed by young Harlen Bretz's theory of a sudden massive Missoula Flood in ancient times .

To his critics, Bretz's explanation for the some highly unusual geological features seemed positively Noirish -- suggesting a hidden dark unpredictable side to what their own Breen Office had always portrayed as a cheery sunlit orderly process.

Others ?

Obviously Martin Henry Dawson's new vision of the chaotic random horizontal genetic transfers found in the microbe world versus the universal and orderly vertical genetic inheritance scheme proposed by his (intellectual) rival Charles Darwin....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'Farewell My Valento' : all wartime America tries 'passing' as native born WASP

When an originally dark-haired Italian-American woman successfully 'passing' as Mrs Helen Grayle (an icy blond member of 1940s Los Angeles' upper crust) is threatened with the exposure of her dark (literally : noir) secret , Velma Valento kills and kills and kills again.

All to prevent her secret from ever coming out.

This basically is the engine that drives the plot of the first and greatest noir cum private eye story ever : Raymond Chandler's FAREWELL MY LOVELY (1940).

The city of quartz passes for diamond

From 1920 till 1960 (the years of the very height of high modernity) Los Angeles's population repeatedly told the census people that it had the highest percentage of native born white protestants of any major American city - most residents also claiming to be born with clearly Anglo-Saxon names.

Some - a few - might have been telling the truth - but not many.

Adapting your real name to sound more native born Anglo Saxon did not just start and end with people in Show Biz or LA : it was a national passion under Modernity.

And claiming to attend a mainstream protestant denomination (once every decade - for someone else's funeral or wedding) never ever hurt any 'passer' either during the era of Modernity.

And so what if you were originally a swarthy Italian or a light Colored - who could tell anything anymore in a nation addicted to having deep tans and peroxided hair ?

One of the greatest successes of Modernity film's censor board (the Breen Office) was in preventing any hint on screen of deliberate miscegenation : the races deliberately choosing to sleep together.

But perhaps Modernity's greatest fear was of the screen showing examples of what later is revealed to be unintentional sexual miscegenation.

That Mary Douglas-like nightmare of the supposedly white native born protestant WASP bonkette in your Big House bed actually turning out to be a swarthy dark , foreign and Catholic crop picker from out in the dirty fields .

In the early 1940s, the Allied nations justified the conscripting of their young to possibly die as necessary to protect the vital "small c" catholic concept that 'all men are brothers'.

Meanwhile, Joseph Breen's office, working (ultimately) under the direction of the Pope, struggled hard every day to deny this fact ever appearing on the screen.

But then the race-traitor Raymond Chandler (that rare southern Californian who truly was white protestant anglo saxon and native-born) slipped a catholic darkie 'past' Breen : and Noir was born ...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Academic Peer Review and the Breen Office : can you tell the difference ? Is there a difference ?

Did Hollywood's notorious Joe Breen spend his entire career defending normal movie making within the current movie-making paradigm , rather than encouraging new voyages into untravelled waters ?

Is that how social scientist Thomas Kuhn would have regarded the Academy of Film Producers' reviewing activities, if he had looked at them instead of the Academy of Scientists ?

We'll never know - but it is worth asking ...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

a Noirish account of wartime penicillin : un-superheroes

With Un-superheroes, I hope to offer up a bit of astringent reality, after years of  nothing but the Breen Office version of wartime penicillin -- with all its 'hands across the water' and Allied buddy bonding...

'40s Gotham : birthing Superheroes & Noir ...

One can think of Golden Age Comic Book Superheroes as Breen Office pre-approved but Golden Age Film Noir as Breen Office pre-disapproved.

During WWII, Hollywood was not taken over by Allied government censors , contrary to expectations.

Instead Hollywood (Breen Office) censorship methods simply took over the Allied governments.

The bright uplift that Joseph Breen always strived for within the small - virtual - world of major Hollywood  films became something Allied governments tried to fairy dust over all of their nations' activities.

Allied war efforts certainly killed many neutral and occupied nation civilians - hundreds of thousands of them in total.

But you would never see the Allied propaganda efforts boast about these deaths in the way the Axis did about their complete destruction of civilian Lidice's entire population and houses.

But Allied  newspapers and books remained surprisingly free to comment about everything but immediate military operations .

As a result , the front pages (& Hollywood 'war' movies/comic books) had huge but empty war stories , all about Breen Office uplift and how the fiercely determined Allies were united in seeking a quick end to all forms of discrimination.

But those newspapers' same back pages had plenty of tiny but fact-filled items on examples of Home Front profiteering, slackers and racists.

By 1943, this dissonance had led many left leaning film people to start turning out film noirs that hinted at this moral disconnect....

Saturday, December 13, 2014

First person to receive penicillin (the antibiotic) was black and or Jewish .. but he was not an Oxford policeman or an Yale housewife

who was the first person to receive penicillin ?

The first of about a half dozen patients to receive penicillin-the-antiseptic before 1940, was one of Alexander Fleming's medical assistants.

As an antiseptic, penicillin was a times useful but never any lifesaver - antiseptics rarely are.

Only when penicillin is taken internally can it be called a miracle cure and a major life-saver.

That method first happened in human patients in NYC on October 16th 1940 when given to Negro Aaron Leroy Alston and Jew Charles Aronson .

Who came first of the pair - even if only by a minute or so - is not important and we do not know in any case.

Alston was definitely , for sure , the patient intended to get penicillin first while Aronson came in at the very last minute but might, for that very reason, have been treated a minute before Alston.

Despite what you read in mainstream media and history , neither Oxford policeman Mr Alexander or Yale housewife Mrs Miller were the first to be treated by the antibiotic version of penicillin.

Claims that they were, are to not be too subtle about it, Big Lies --- promoted by powerful organizations with more reputation and money to lose than moral scruples to retain....

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why did most popular accounts of WWII have to read like they were written by (or at least censored by) Joseph Breen ?

You get a truer sense of WWII's immoral depths by watching almost any domestic film noir from that period --- rather than by reading a war book or watching a war movie....

Post Modern or Post Protestant ? Post-1945, the Protestant Project fades

If the Modernity or Enlightenment Project started fading after 1945, to which religious faith was it most closely aligned to --- and did that religious faith group's power also start to fade in consequence ?

Or perhaps I have it back-asswards.

 Was that faith tested in the moral fires of WWII and found seriously failing ?

Such that it never recovered its world-wide culture-wide cachet but became instead ever more tightly clung to by those un-reconciled to the fading of Modernity ?

The world establishment was dominated (pre 1945) by people who were white and male and whose families had originated from North Western Europe and who had been raised in a mainstream Protestant milieu.

Not all that world-wide political-military-economic-intellectual establishment was from that Protestant grouping - think quickly of Hitler, Stalin, Tojo and Mussolini --- but the tone and the pace of Modernity was set by the Protestants.

They dominated the universities, media and civil service, military and business elites (even in countries that had sizeable minorities or majorities of non-Protestants) of most of the biggest most modern nations in the 1940s.

One thinks of 1950s Canada for but one example.

Anglicans, Presbyterians , Methodists, Lutherans.

Some Baptists - maybe.

No Pentacostals or Salvation Army , no orthodox faiths, no Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists ,etc.

Agnostic or atheist was okay - even expected in certain circles (science) but one still had to have been raised in a Protestant atmosphere before rejecting it for "the higher protestantism" (scientism).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Plenitude always thickest at transitional points

My age cohort of Canadians (those born between 1941 and 1956) have had to deal with its own sort of transitional plentitude.

We still tend to mentally translate temperature in Centigrade back into Fahrenheit, food prices in kilos back into pounds, struggle to remember to call Nova Scotian aboriginals Mi'kmaq not Micmacs, that Arctic natives are Inuits not Eskimos and on and on.

My young nieces and nephews, not ever knowing the older terms, do not have to struggle to un-learn them.

So it was in the early days of Modernity when this eternal and universal pain of knowing two or more conflicting terms or facts about something suddenly became an overwhelming flood.

To give but one example, for decades now most of us know only one thing about the age of the present known universe : that it is about 13 billion years old.

We never have had to write on a high school science exam that it is hundreds of thousands of years old, only then re-learn as young adults that it is in fact hundreds of millions year old, then finally in middle age to learn that it is an ever-expanding number of billions years old.

All this over one normal lifetime.

the TWO plenitudes

So there were actually two plentitudes thrown up by early modernization.

One was an intellectual flood - starting in the 1870s -  producing for the general public a sudden and vast increase in the size, number, and complexity of the known components of reality.

The other plentitude was for adults of that time struggling to separate the old facts of the known world from all the new conflicting facts about that now better known world.

Not just a plentitude then of one billion new facts - but a combined plentitude of two billion facts - half now true , half now false.

Eventually - by about the 1940s - this flood of new scientific evidence about the world slowed down, just as most people were also coming to accept that there would always be new evidence emerging to refute older beliefs.

Getting use to both sorts of plentitude wasn't the only reason why Modernity began dying in the 1940s, but it was one of the most important factors....

Medicalizing Modernity : a few vigilante superheroes against the many democratic un-superheroes

We have traditionally considered super heroes to be 'super' because their various strengths are clearly superior to those of ordinary beings, but this could be the wrong way to view their 'super-ness'.

We can instead think of super as simply meaning bigger and fewer.

This is because the basic laws of physics with regard to mass, energy and space suggest that fewer big things can occupy a given niche than can many small things.

Hold that thought as we turn to that time-honoured fictional small frontier town beset upon by outlaws.

The fictional residents have two basic choices.

In one, all the citizens can decide democratically what to do and then do it as a collectivity : the democratic and the legal way .

Now we know that few democratic decisions are ever unanimous and even fewer collectivities ever work together for long with one mind : this process is going to be slow, noisy and costly.

Or the fictional town can seek one individual to rid the town of the outlaws, by working outside the law.

Shane or Superman, in this fictional universe the vigilante one always solves the problem the democratic many could not, quickly taking out the bad guys --- and the problem never ever comes back.

Now in real frontier towns, such as Manitoba's The Pas, the actual problems before them are very complex and enduring.

To over-simplify ,they concern relations between a white protestant middle class in the heart of the town who hold all the positions of power and authority and a poorer population, usually catholic and aboriginal or immigrant, on the edge of town, literally Beyond the Pale.

Neither Superman, Batman or Spiderman or George W Bush's 'shock and awe' can solve those problems in the blink of a stun-gun on an outlaw's face.

They have instead emerged because the forces of modernization has brought big industries to places once solely occupied by non-industrial cultures.

The money thrown up by those industries draws in many different ethnicities to come together to live and work around it.

Think of it as one of the most common and contentious plenitudes thrown up by unconscious forces of modernization.

Modernity or Plenticide was the semi-conscious reaction by many to it : to reduce the new complexity of life by re-ordering it in a vertical hierarchy of worthiness, with the people with all the existing power coincidentally always at the top.

Medicalizing Modernity (seeing modernity as a quasi-medical solution to a global mental health issue : modernization's overwhelming plenitude overwhelming our need for order)

In their heart of hearts, all the peoples of The Pas know how their problems came about - and that that there is no tiny band of outlaws to lay blame upon.

But they all retreat instead to watch movies starring super heroes solving big social problems instantly and cost-free --- because it sure beats emerging from the Cineplex back out into the real world again.

There again to deal with the long and messy democratic process of reconciling various cultures who share a common humanity.

Perhaps then we should consider adding the cost of regular visits to Super Hero movies to Medicare, for those of us who can't handle too much change or variety.

Even when the change or variety is for the better...

If plenticidal pruning is always better than plentitude's chaos , then bigger is always better

Medicalizing Modernity

The  real reason why so many humans  can confidently proclaim that 'bigger is always better' without knowing in advance how 'bigger' will actually turn out , is because bigger always means fewer --- in any given biological, social or economic niche.

For example , instead of thousands of small town bankers all competing against each other in unpredictable chaotic ways, they can all merge into a few big national banks : each with just one CEO, one Board of Directors, one set of unbending lending rules etc.

Neat, tidy, orderly : Canadian static simplicity and predictability instead of American plentitude's dynamic chaos.

(So now you know why Canada and the US so differ in their industrial competitiveness !)

Yes, a merger into a bigger entity might mean more profits but it might not - for as many mergers quickly and costly de-merge as prosper - but that is not the real point.

Similarly those pea-counters in the media obsessed with seeing fewer municipalities (and fewer council members) are not really concerned about cost savings despite their claims.

This is because the hard evidence suggests that total for the new higher salaries, pensions and benefits for the fewer council members (and for their new support staff) far exceeds the total costs when we had many town councils with many councillors --- all paid peanuts and with no support staff.

This mantra is never ever really about more profits or fewer costs but is actually about maintaining own's mental health.

For billions of humanity, 'bigger is always better' really means 'much better for their own mental stability' : they simply can't handle too much change or variety very well --- it 'hurts' their head.

As for why, no one really knows for sure. We can tentatively blame it on their individual genetic brain chemistry, in combination with how they were individually raised.

This is not a full on/full off condition but something we humans all have in common, each of us set along a sliding continuum from 'manageable' to 'all-consuming'.

So always think of the mantra 'bigger is better' as a quasi-prozac pill and you'd be on the right track...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Apogee of Super modernity (1920s-1960s) : 1939-1940 New York World's Fair

Once upon a time, forces long thought to be in hot opposition to each other made a common bed together.

Political/economic elites united with scientific elites - and the two united in both private enterprise and in command economies such as Nazi Germany and the USSR.

They all shared a common vision and the few individuals opposed to that vision (for to claim the critics as 'forces' would greatly exaggerate their strength and unity of purpose) found little foothold among the public to share their reasoned opposition to that vision.

Huge, highly expensive and risky super-projects would be undertaken by the scientific elites, paid for by monies raised diverted by the political and economic worlds.

The rare unity across CP Snow's cultural divide  and the even rarer willingness to divert monies into wild and wooly schemes happened because these super projects were judged essential for a nation-state's very survival, let alone also ensuring it remaining as a super nation in an age of super modernity and super men.

The apogee of this super or hyper modern faith in scientism was the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940.

My cohort (those born between 1940 and 1956) , the transitional cohort between modernity and the times after modernity, never knew first hand of the excited expectations thrown up by this famous fair.

But our parents, teachers and employers did ....

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mostly poor people ALL OVER THE WORLD denied life --- by wartime's Republican-dominated NAS death panel

American doctor-run death panels did exist and they did sentence people to an inevitable death based on mostly eugenic driven considerations.

It happened during WWII.

The patients denied access to penicillin (that was the only thing that could save their lives) were all suffering from subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE) that was then a leading cause of death for poor, minority and immigrant youths - the final deadly stage of childhood attacks of rheumatic fever.

Actually the entire spectrum of possible ways to die from rheumatic fever (known as Rheumatic Heart Disease or RHD) was the leading cause of death for school age children and youths in all of the industrialized world - far far more than polio for example - and would remain so till the 1960s.

But you won't know this unless you were very poor ; it wasn't a middle class disease.

Now this story of the wartime bureaucratic denial of penicillin to SBE patients isn't totally unknown to students of the history of wartime penicillin - but most think that this diktat was limited to American patients only.

But I have been tracing how the same American-originated list of diseases to be treated (or not) by GPs using this new penicillin kept re-appearing world wide, always with virtually the same wording.

So far I have traced the publication of this diktat (intended to apply to all GPs) in journals or newspapers in Canada, Britain, Australia , and now New Zealand.

The New Zealand newspaper report in June 1944 was franker than most - the nation wasn't making its own penicillin but was wholly dependent on penicillin given to it (via Australia) by America.

But the report indicated that the penicillin gift came with strings - the Kiwis had to agree to refrain from using the medication on diseases that were being ignored in America and in all the other Allied nations.

The disease the Kiwis and all the others were specifically told to ignore was SBE.

The NAS panel headed up by Dr Chester Keefer - himself an expert on SBE - was in a dispute with Dr Martin Henry Dawson and his supporters who was insistent their numerous patient cures indicated that penicillin and only penicillin could cure SBE and do so completely.

(Dawson and his supporters were 100% right by the way !)

If news came to American SBE patient families that in New Zealand SBEs were being treated and cured by penicillin, Dawson would have a further ammunition to inadvertently embarrass Keefer.

Inadvertent because while Dawson was a rank amateur on SBE until he started in with penicillin (and was anyone never one to be mean to fellow scientists),  Keefer had made SBE's cure his life's work.

But Keefer had backed the wrong horse as to the best drug to cure SBE and wasn't willingly to publicly back down and grant that Dawson was right.

Keefer had other more public excuses for his denying penicillin to SBEs , but this was the real reason ...

Martin Henry Dawson : against a city - and an age - of Super Heroes, the story of an un-superhero

1875 -1965 was an age of Scientism and of Super (hyper) Modernity --- an era of unlimited faith in the abilities of technocratic elites (a view at least held by other technocratic elites).

An epoch hearing many (un-democratic) proposals for elite corps of skygod-like air police to short sharply govern the real world of unruly adults down below.

Fiction writers matched the non-fiction intellectuals by creating imaginary super-heroes doing basically the same job as the proposed  Air Police , to populate the fantasy world of male teens and boys.

It has been largely and deliberately forgotten today* that these schemes for an elite air police force to govern all the world were openly proposed and critiqued by many seriously respected intellectuals such as HG Wells.

It was as if the Greek and Roman skygods of ancient thought were to be adapted to modern times.

Little wonder then that the same young men who read everything vaguely Sci-Fi that HG Wells ever wrote , eagerly took up this idea for their various (Gotham based) comic book super heroes.

It pleasures me muchly then to be able to push hard against this grain and focus in on a story , set in that same Gotham as in the heyday of the Golden Age Super Heroes, that features a crusading scientist who positively oozed un-charisma.

Someone as un-superheroic and as un-skygod like as can possibly be.

Who yet did great things ....


* PD Smith's The Doomsday Men is one sturdy exception .

There have been actually a fair number of other books and authors that have been successful in developing this theme : H Bruce Franklin's War Stars springs to mind.

Successful in the academic world that is , but not yet in the popular consciousness.

How to be intellectually invisible : criticize the modern era's grand narratives --- without offering up one of your own

The Modern Era (1875-1965) was very tolerant of criticisms of its rules - as long as your criticism played by those same rules.

So individual Modern intellectuals might disagree profoundly with the content of your particular grand narrative but they still greatly admired the fact that you had one.

Dozens of major ideologies - isms of all sorts and shapes - poured forth in that age - each vigorously disagreeing with all others,  except for the Modern Era's one overarching grand narrative : that to make a credible critique of Modern grand narrative, one must have one as well.

It was not the time for guardedly measured criticisms : it was an age of Alpha Male ideologies and their Alpha Male critics : dream (and critique) big and bold --- or stay home.

Martin Henry Dawson differed profoundly with this world : perhaps most defiantly in denying the need for grand critiques against grand narratives.

As a result, he simply doesn't figure as an intellectual (by word and pen) critic of his era.

He was, instead, a critic by deed .

He carried on his efforts to secure life-saving penicillin for those young patients deemed by the Allied scientific cum medical establishment as lives unworthy of life-granting penicillin even at the cost of his own life.

But he succeeded in the end and his vision of penicillin-for-all, particularly during a total war in an era that denied the universality of all humanity, was to be profoundly influential in the post-Modern era.

Dawson did not destroy the Modern era - it did that mostly on its own.

But his Manhattan project (the wartime mass production and mass distribution of natural penicillin) sure helped speed it along ...

Most famous GREY LITERATURE ever : Lyotard's "The Postmodern Condition" ?

In true post-modern (anti-grand narrative) fashion the opening manifesto of our post-modern era was not dramatically nailed up on a tree or read aloud before the revolutionary crowd about to storm the presidential palace.

Instead it was merely tamely submitted to a provincial government, as a very small part of a routine 'backstopping' exercise by faceless government bureaucrats.

Despite this, La Condition Postmoderne , a 1979 piece of un-grey literature from a then obscure professor named Jean-Francois Lyotard , may in the end become the most globe-shaking artifact that the PQ party will have ever produced...

un-superheroes : Earthlings --- not super heroes , not Skygods

Joe and Willie , PBI , not Captain America or Bomber Command.

Down in dirt , muddling through , boots on the ground .

When hyper-modern technology fails : send in the shovels ...

the Super-Modern Era : the hyper-arrogant era of Supermen and Ubermensch

The current term 'Super Heroes', though not the age old concept , first fully emerged at the apogee of the super-modern era (the New York's World Fair ,circa 1939-1940) and have tagged along with us ever since.

Their continuing popularity - and not just among 15 year old boys - is a useful measure of the strength of belief in Super-Modern ideas , 70 years into this era of the post-Modern.

The other measure is, of course, support for the climate deniers.

Their chief funders and cheerleaders are old men (born on both sides of 1930) who were those same young 15 year old boys who first read of the original comic book super heroes.

Gosh Koch : comic books form the deep ideology of the climate denying network ?

Who would ever have thought that ?

Our era of global commensality also brings us EBOLA, CHERNOBYL, and ATMOSPHERIC CO2

In the decades after 1945, it became clear to the entire world that long range bombers and ICBM missiles could deliver near instant nuclear energy death (energy too cheap to meter) to anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.

Even the wayward winds would help out,  pushing the deadly radioactive fallout clouds hither and yon, willy nilly.

And that supposed boon to Progress , all those post-1945 ultra-fast civilian jets speeding business people and tourists from anywhere to everywhere in a few hours ?

All those jetliner routes also meant that thousands of very recently infected people could leave an area where a deadly infectious outbreak had not yet been medically detected, to make their way forth to innocently (and ultimately) infect the entire world --- all in the course of a day or two.

Gradually , our sense of the security we had always had that our own locality and our own nation-state could be a separate island of calm in a sea of global chaos has evaporated.

My claim that the post-1945 world is in an era of global commensality does not just mean the benign global re-cycling of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus etc for the benefit of all life : it is not all cute lamb lying down with tame lion.

It also means the global re-cycling of radioactive clouds (and of Ebola viruses) to the detriment of all life.

It can mean that the baneful genetic effects of a nuclear explosion in this decade could still be harming our grandchildren in that decade --- for global commensality has a global time spectrum as well as global space spectrum.

It even means that one nation burning coal on this side of the world could raise the ocean waters enough to drown that island nation on the other side of the world.

Global commensality re-affirms that indeed no man, woman, child or beast is an island ....

Sunday, December 7, 2014

the "Transitional Cohort" : those born after the Fall of France but before the rise of Elvis ...

A cohort ("generation" in lay-speak) is forever defined by the significant external events happening during its key formative ('coming of age') years.

For my cohort - born roughly between 1940 and 1956 and usually defined simply as "first wave Baby Boomers" -  its key characteristic is its 'neither nor' transitional aspect : neither fully and comfortably Modern nor fully and a comfortably post Modern.

Modernity's values were instilled into us by our teachers and elites but before those values had time to harden and to feel natural and inevitable they were assailed by post Modern doubters.

In turn, those doubts about Modernity never properly hardened into feelings that seemed as natural and inevitable to us as they did to our younger siblings.

We have eaten and enjoyed both white Wonder Bread and artisan whole grain loaves but are not now totally at ease with either.

More seriously, the Transitional Generation is quite uncomfortable with young people dismissing vaccines.

We too share their distrust of big drug company profit mantras but we also remember some of our parents and grandparents' fears before most life-threatening childhood infections had preventative vaccines.

But we are not a short, sharp, sharply defined cohort like the WWII cohort - we can't point to six years of war to forever define us.

Nothing really dramatic ever happened with us : modernity just went out with a long long slow gentle sigh and post modernity equally slowly seeped in , almost invisibly, day by day.

There was nothing Super-Hero-like about it : it wasn't a quick clean clear dramatic break between Eras , but rather more 'slow and messy' , contested and plodding : characteristically un-superhero-like in fact .....

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Murray Howard Dawson ... and me

I never knew Murray Dawson and he never knew me.

He died July 24 2004, about 4 months before I began to get interested in his father's (Dr Martin Henry Dawson) amazing career.

But despite Murray being almost ten years older than me (he born September 23 1941, me on September 20 1951) I feel a kinship with him that I can never share with his surviving brother and sister , who I do know a little.

This is because Murray and I are of the post-Modernity generation, people who never knew a time before mass destruction nuclear bombs delivered by good-enough inaccuracy by jet bombers and continent spanning rockets, before Auschwitz, and before natural antibiotics like penicillin.

But the point I wish to make is that while we both might have been born in the first post-modernity generation, we also grew up at a time when all the powerful people - all the adults - had spent their formative years inside the peak years of Modernity and thus had never known it when it was on its way in or on its way out.

They were pure 100% undiluted Modernity and they were teaching us , directing us, controlling us.

Today the powerful (who I take as those in positions of authority and influence and roughly between the ages of 38 and 75), are themselves fully post-Modern, never knowing anything else.

So Murray and I were raised in a transitional era - Modernity very very slowly ebbing out , post-Modernity very very slowly seeping in.

I mean that if you believe (as I do and so do many others) that the culture around you when you are 15 & 16 is the most important influence on your entire life , then recall that I was 15 and 16 in 1966-68*, the years that most experts see as the moment when popular post-modernity first broke through and modernity first nosedived.

You can't get any more transitional than that ....


* My theory as to just why those particular years broke the back of Modernity is that these are the years that the last of the people who were 15/16 before all of WWI's disasters retired from positions of power.

I can remember the situation at my own high school as the new replacements for elderly teachers seemed almost to skip a generation - near-seventy year olds replaced by those in their early thirties.

People who were 16 before the Somme and 1916 replaced by people who were 16 at the time Elvis and the CND hit.

This was partly because changes to public pensions at that time, making them available at age 65 instead of 70 , made retiring at 65 near universal in that period.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The price of human life to racists : in 1861 Texas vs 1941 Belorussia

In the early 1860s , a Texas racist could buy good cotton land for $6 an acre - a big half section of 320 acres went for $2000 ------ about the same price as ONE top quality (young skilled healthy) slave.

Needless to say, in this age before modernity's machinery, you needed far more than one such field hand to work all those acres.

So the prudent kept their slaves as healthy as they could , for as long as they could.

Because most of the South's wealth was in human being slaves, not in land, buildings or machinery.

But when the Nazi racists invaded Russia in 1941 they saw it not as a land of milk and honey but as a land of machinery : all oil refineries and tractor factories , with no need at all for enslaved Slavs .

The Slavs were all to be starved to death as superfluous to needs, under the infamous Hunger Plan.

Because the Era of Modernity was greatly opposed to human slavery --- as far too expensive and far too inefficient --- at least as compared to enslaving iron and petroleum.

This opposition to human slavery was called 'Progress.'

But in the end , the Nazi racists' best known machines - their 'big iron' panzers - ran out of petroleum and so once again slaves (teams of enslaved farm oxen) were called forth - to haul them into battle ....

Super Heroes started WWII -- but only un-superheroes could end it ...

It flatters us greatly to focus upon WWII as simply a war between good (us) and evil (them).

This, rather than accurately/painfully contrasting the high expectations of all sides in September 1939 (and many other such key dates throughout the six year conflict) with the depressing reality of September 1945.

For the swift and powerful English and German bomber fleets (or swift and powerful Russian and German tank armies) (or  swift and powerful Japanese and American carrier task forces) did not 'always get through' .

No major campaign - and the war itself - ever ended in a breakthrough after a few swift painless weeks, as promised.

Super Hero militaries and their civilian fellow travellers certainly talked  a lot during WWII--- but they did not walk.

Instead civilians in bomb shelters,  little Grumman fighter planes, muddy infantrymen and tiny corvette navies plodded their way to a sad, slow victory : in a truly un-superheroic fashion

"Open Commensal Publishing" ?

Anyone in the world can write it. Anyone in the world can read it. Anyone in the world can critique it.

Post-publication peer review ---- by seven billion peers .....

WWII to be a war of physics, all ELEGANCE and PARSIMONY ; instead it was a war of history, multi-causal, protracted, all plentitude and fecundity

Remember how quick WWII was supposed to be?

Within hours of war's declaration, all those deadly accurate surgical strikes with poison gas by massed fleets of heavy bombers ('that always get through') upon civilian cities (who 'always panic and surrender') ?

Japan's lightning war to successfully force America to grant it 'living space' within most of the Far East ?

Germany's easy conquering all of the USSR to the Urals,  before the first snow flies ?

How USSR's massive armoured forces on its borders would quickly defeat any invasion by Germany's 'state of the art' puny Panzer Is, IIs and IIIs ?

How Germany couldn't feed its people or its economy so that the British economic blockade, backed by more surgical bomber strikes, would quickly force the Germans to their knees ---- without the need for any British boots on European soil ?

When all Modernity thought about conducting war - that is how it all thought it would go.

Post modern historians - and post modern society generally - no longer sees wars (or any other human activities) as quite that quick and easy....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Deniers NEVER deny problems - merely deny that they can't be as easily solved as Superman jumps over buildings...

Take human-originated baneful climate change : climate deniers don't deny that it could exist, merely that if and when it emerges, it will be a quick job for Batman , Spiderman or Captain America to clear up.

Nobody who makes a living solving problems (and let's see , that includes all politicians, all business people, all experts & professionals, all generals, church leaders, on and on) ever denies that problems (their very bread and butter) don't exist.

Far from it -- they are far more likely to see problems where none exist (widespread satanic cults eating our babies anyone ?) or over-exaggerate those that do exist (just as police chiefs always seem to see a growing crime wave just before proposed budget cuts.)

The only thing that most deny is the problems can't be solved or solved relatively easily.

I use that weasel word 'relatively' because expert-problem-solvers-for-money always walk a thin line.

So their pitch to clients has always to be something like this : "your problem is worse than you thought (boo) but it is solvable (hurray) but it is going to cost you some money and time (boo) , but not a whole lot of time and money."

The key word is 'solvable' - lets leave it to the courts to resolve why too much time and too much cost and and too little success emerged from so many of such promises.

Solvable is a post birth of science term , because you still see relatively few religious leaders guaranteeing success : its all "God's ( or the gods') will be done".

So while scientists today appear to be on the side of the angels on combatting baneful climate change (with climate deniers the spawn of the devil) , we must pony up and admit the deniers are sustained intellectually by scientists - not by pre-science thought like that from the world's ancient religions .

That is why this newsletter will attack scientists far more than climate deniers, in my effort to help awake the world to possibly unstoppable climate change....

Scientists reveal the world as scientists wish it could be : historians reveal the world as it really is ?

Is reality really parsimonious ?

The central contention of mainstream science is that reality is fundamentally simple , predictable and controllable.

Or is reality profligate ?

By contrast, the historians claim that reality is extremely complicated, multi-causal, interconnected and endlessly dynamic.

Both views are collectively pre-biased : but which is evidence-based ?

Now while scientists freely admit to a collective bias to see parsimony everywhere, they also feel that the historians are pre-biased -- towards seeing plenitude and profligacy everywhere.

This newsletter's central contention is that what the historians see is what we laity also see on the surface of reality - daily and everywhere.

But what scientists claim to see, we laity do not yet see.

Although many of us share the scientists' wistful longing that it actually exists, somewhere under all of reality's surface morass.

So historians (think of them as defendants in a trial) do not have to prove their contention ---- merely to point to daily existence.

By contrast, surely it is the task of the scientists and their social scientist fellow travellers to prove their case for 'deep simplicity' "beyond all reasonable doubt" in the court of evidence.

But to date they have failed to demonstrate (with concrete examples) that if the ultimate base of reality is very simple, that it somehow follows that it is both predictable and controllable by humans.

Scientists have gotten away with their repeatedly refuted claims because by and large historians haven't done their jobs.

Historians have failed to examine the scientists' efforts as sceptically as they have examined the claims for the successful control of events made by politicians, generals and financiers.

Clearly , by my criteria the Era of Modernity was the era of scientists - so why isn't today's Era of Commensality the era of historians ?

Its a question I've often asked myself .

In a more public sense, history professors  Jo Guldi and David Armitage have asked the same question in their "HISTORY MANIFESTO" (Cambridge University Press) .

Their book-length manifesto was released on October 2014 in various formats - including an OPEN ACCESS (free downloadable) version.

I urge anyone wondering why historians have been so silent on on urgent issues like climate change to download and ponder Guldi and Armitage's book.

Now I know scientists seem currently on the side of the angels with regard to climate change.

But my contention is that the scientists - in the past and even today - laid down the intellectual runway that allowed climate deniers to take wing.

So my newsletter will keep on contributing to tomorrow's battle over climate change --- by looking back seventy five years --- at yesterday's failed claims for the Norden bombsight, synthetic penicillin and New York eugenics research....

Monday, December 1, 2014

AKA Modernity : the era of parsimonious plenticide , 1875-1965

The art of denial is not a new 21st century thing.

Denying human caused climate disaster, denying the Holocaust, Stalin's crimes, the existence of rape culture --- they are all but a few of the sub-sets of one way 'to deal' with 'overwhelming' dynamic complexity.

While to most of us , choice is good and more choice is better, many of us direct our entire existence around dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed by plentitude.

Why they feel so excessively this way (because we all feel overwhelmed by plentitude at times) is a mystery.

It may be due to a combination of unique body chemistry that handles stress badly and their parents (with similar body chemistry) being obsessed with dirt and order.

One of the most satisfying intellectual ways for them to deal with 'overwhelming' plentitude is to deny its very existence.

Its real - substantive - existence.

'Oh yes, the surface complexity is there all right - we shan't deny that.'

'But most of it is rubbish, useless, worthless, dirty, dangerous - and to claim that all of it is valuable is a form of false consciousness.'

'Once you properly separate out what is valuable, worthy , clean and stable and discard - eliminate/liquidate - the rest , life becomes much simpler and happier.'

Or so the plenticidial modernists claimed.

Modernity then was a great era for classification & then binning.

To its proponents, parsimonious plenticide was the best intellectual way to deal with the abundant scientific evidence that reality was much much more complex, older, wider, deeper than anyone had ever previously thought.

This fact was materially thrust in their faces every day by the effects of co-current globalization cum modernization - seemingly the planet and all its beings were daily arriving at the customs and immigration gates of their country.

So : normal vs deviant , normal vs degenerated, normal vs deformed, normal vs unfit , normal vs dirty - on and on the classifying and destruction went.

No gene pool was ever shallow enough for them - any and every gene pool could always do with a little more draining.

The surface rubbish was complex but the solution wasn't : a little quick painless culling by some super heroes (and super nations) dressed up in capes and tights and it would all be resolved.

One might think evolution and progress as having been invented expressly to allow a moral mechanism for killing off one's new neighbours with a clear conscience.

Yes the world is a plentitude , but of mostly also rans and a few winners and the also rans will be quietly liquidated after the results of the marathon have been announced.

Reductionism as parsimonious plenticide

In the physical sciences , reductionism was the parsimonious plenticide equivalent : claiming all reality could be reduced to the reliable and predictable assembling and re-assembling of a handful of atoms of a handful of elements , all obeying a handful of  knowable, simple, eternal and universal laws.

For this was the great age of Erector and Meccano sets - vividly expressing how parents and grandparents thought their young should view the world.

But Modernity's big problem would not go away - because reality is really and truly complex and dynamic - and everything science has discovered since 1875 renders this more not less so.

In our new era of global commensality we (most of we , anyhow) see the interconnectedness of everything on Earth : many ,many things and events all interacting with each other is some direct, some distantly indirect ways.

But many of us don't, still in denial that the era of modernity was wrong or that it has ended.

And this attitude is fueling - petro fueling - the destruction of this planet.

For on all of the world's Wall Streets, the Alpha Male 'Masters of the Universe' lead the way in denying that we can't really master the universe ....

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Open Commensal Publishing : because on climate change , pace President Obama or the NAS , 7 billion heads are better than one or even 2000

Open Commensal Publishing simply means that anyone should have a right to publish --- without either commercial , professional or academic gatekeepers pre-censoring that right.

Laws of Libel still apply.

And peer (and non-peer) reviews still happen under this approach --- as they do now, after publication --- whether that publication was pre-vetted or not.

Self published works , to many of us alert to typos and woefully inaccurate fact-reporting , seem to be no better and no worse than the work published after vetting by commercial editors, press gallery journalists with journalism degrees, and by academic editors and pre-publication academic reviewers.

The best have never needed a commercial publisher , a journalism degree , tenure or a PhD to be able to contribute to a culture's intellectual life.

The second-best, however, do.

They need that validation, to reside behind the wagons of some sort of aristocracy - to feel proud to be inside its closed commensal publishing, to be able to offer up whatever it is that they are capable of.

Too too often professionalism is merely the last refuge of the second best.

I have never sought that refuge but I also number myself as one of those second best, as perhaps you are too.

We second best and second rate never can tell where the true flashes of untutored and unfettered genius will briefly emerge and then vanish ---- and we can't afford to stifle any of them , not with the state this planet is in right now.

Open Commensal Publishing is simply the Cabinet of All the Talents needed to address our current global crisis ....