The lock-down, at least around here, really got going on Monday and has accelerated through the week. The weekend saw the hoarding, as public officials started acting hysterically in front of the cameras. On Monday, businesses started to wind down, sending people home if they were not needed or could work from home. The parking lot at my office was very light on Monday, but there were still people in the building. By Thursday the parking lot was just about empty of all cars.
There’s some traffic on the roads, but it like a Sunday morning, rather than a weekday or even a weekend afternoon. People are staying home, for the most part. Not happy with their work, the government is talking about a nationwide quarantine. They are talking about grounding all passenger air traffic for up to 30 days, halting stock trading on Wall Street, and imposing a shelter-in-place rule. Presumably, if one more person gets sick after that, they will begin bombing American cities.
Yesterday I realized that I had not had a face-face conversation with another human in a couple of days. I’ve spoken to people by phone and had e-mail exchanges, but I’ve not talked to anyone in person for a while. For whatever reason, I was reminded of the old Vincent Price movie The Last Man on Earth. There was an old Twilight Zone episode of a similar nature. Of course, there was the crappy Will Smith version on this theme, in which you end up rooting for the monsters to get him.
In my fortress of solitude, I started thinking about another science fiction classic, The Mote in God’s Eye. In the book, humans finally meet an alien species for the first time and discover something called the Crazy Eddie. This is a mythical character the aliens use to explain the inevitability of repeated cycles of collapse of the alien civilization and the pointlessness of trying to prevent them. Anyone who thinks they can solve the inherent defect in their society is called Crazy Eddie.
That’s the thing that does not get addressed in the tales of apocalypse like I Am Legend or the many movies that spring from it. The plague movies usually have a story line where the good guys can stop the plague or maybe come up with a miracle cure for it afterward. In the post-plague stories, after society has collapsed, the characters never think much about how they got to that place. It’s just bad luck. The collapse itself has no meaning other than as a devise to drive the plot of the story.
Maybe what we are seeing here is the inevitable end of all human society. From the perspective of time, the end point looks like a fizzling out of a dying people, but to those in it, it looks like mass insanity. Maybe this is what it looked like for those living in the late Roman Empire or even the late days of the Republic. Then, as now, the people speaking out against the gathering madness were dismissed as madmen, as everyone set about pulling the roof down on civilization.
On the other hand, one has to consider the possibility that it is not the world going mad, but you are the one going mad. It’s possible. There are a lot of people looking around and wondering why we are doing this, but maybe all of us are suffering from madness and the rest of the world is acting sober minded. It’s possible, but that would mean they have a secret way to feed people in a nationwide 30-day lock-down. Maybe turning America into a hermit kingdom is the path to the Promised Land.
For the curious, if they can get past however they are responding to the what’s happening right now, this is an amazing time. We will see things that no one could have imagined seeing just a few weeks ago. No one can know what follows a 30-day quarantine of a continent sized country. No one really knows what will follow just this one week halt to the global economy. No one knows what happens if the plague fears are wildly overblown, which seems inevitable at this point.
Regardless of what follows, we are living in a time without precedent. A century ago, we had a real plague, but the world did not stop. The stock market collapse in the 1920’s did bring a closure, but it was not for a month. The bank run that happened in 1933 resulted in a week-long bank holiday, but the rest of society kept going. The past provides some samples but nothing close to what is being contemplated. Heck, we are already into uncharted territory with the one-week lock-down.
Maybe I am the crazy one, but crazy or not, messing with big complicated things always has unanticipated results. This is an iron law of systems. Even if the response is appropriate to the danger, taking a sledge hammer to the very complex system that is American society will have consequences that no one can anticipate. Another rule of complex systems is you need to understand the iron law of systems before you are allowed to even tinker with the system. That rule has been violated.
This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. I am now on Deezer, for our European haters and Stitcher for the weirdos. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below.
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This Week’s Show
- 00:00: Opening
- 02:00: Cochran & Sailer
- 12:00: Permanent Crisis
- 19:00: The Boomer Question
- 25:00: The RV Community
- 30:00: The Truth Still Counts
- 46:00: Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect
- 49:00: Economics
- 56:00: Leaving A Record
Full Show On Spreaker
Full Show On YouTube