Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Statement Is False



The coldest possible message is that it does not matter.

That there is no essence, being, or truth beyond the electrical experiences to be grabbed as a by-product of bouncing indivisibles--this is the inevitable paving of the road to hell. Even filled with opera, poetry, or sweaty snugglebunnies; even moved at the gallery, falling in chemical love or chuckling all night, the vanishing into nevermore of every future and past makes nothing any more real than it is believed to be. If nothing exists but your feelings, or even our feelings, then the unrepentant serial rapists, all the Saudi princes, or the morphine rider five minutes from death are the winners. Majesty, splendor, wonder, devotion, and discovery "may" please those you believe in, but if it is nothing but molecules, those things are at best a distant second to chemical mayhem, and at worst, never existed.

Does a set of all sets contain itself? Necessarily, it must, or it would not be a set of all sets, yet it would then be a different set, containing all other sets plus itself...which then must needs contain the new version of "itself," including that prior infinity, plus one. The artificial boundaries of computer- and choice-axiom-models can limit the expansion of one/universe to useful terms so that all systems do not immediately appear to crash, but the conception of endless sets, or any of the other paradoxes, breaks not only logic and mathematics, but time and philosophy.

While having fun with our inherited or invented toys, we may consider remembering that they are magnificent and wonderful, yet only, toys. Their conclusive failure is conclusive failure, and only through previously adopting a faith in the way their systems work--by believing in meets, bounds, whole integers, motion, gravity, time, origin--do we use them. Barbie and her house are only useful fun if disbelief is suspended; similarly, Jehovah or Science or Type Theory. The ability to imagine the paradox shows that, even if all this does not matter, we are not able to discern such from this vantage point. Ergo it may be something unseen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Let's Make A Movie, Part 2

Succeeding Let's Make A Movie.

Securities

Some of them have figured out that we are using rigged securities markets to manipulate planet business. We need to show that only bad, violent people dislike our securities markets. We can't just show violence happening to us--we need to equate violence against our securities markets with violence against them. So, Cain and his violence-mob will hurt other ordinary poor people along their way. They will terrorize ordinary characters alongside characters who look like us, so that people start to equate the two.

We want them to think that if they tried to take our stuff, someone would take their stuff, too. This "Robin Hood" thing they still sometimes get the gist of is damaging, so we need to make sure they don't think someone would "steal from the rich and give to the poor." Instead, Cain will steal from the rich and steal from the poor, and hurt the rich and the poor equally. No, not even equally--there are more of them than there are of us, a lot more, so Cain will end up hurting a lot more of them. We'll completely reverse that "Robin Hood" thing. That will make most of them protect us even if someone tries to come after just us.

Social Breakdown

Obviously, they need to think that even if they somehow won, which they couldn't, they would crumble. The only way we keep this thing going and justify all of our stuff is by making them think that they couldn't live without us. We don't want to do work; we want them to do all the work. But they keep noticing that they are working while we are not. We even tried to come up with "head work" that involves telling them what to do, and we acted like this work was harder and more important than what they did. Some of them are still upset about it, though. They notice that we are not doing actual work. We need to make them see that our wise guidance, and not their work, is what keeps them alive.

So, in our movie, we need to provide a vision of what things would be like if Cain and his stupid mob of ordinary people, "won." Cain won't win the whole story, of course, but we can let it seem like he won for a little while, just to show the people what it would be like if he did win. We'll make it look very bad. Not just to make them avoid people like Cain, but to teach them how much they need our oversight to survive.

Food and water are important to people. They gather and clean and grow and raise and make all of it, and we take the best stuff for ourselves, and all the profits. Some of them don't like that. But, they know that they need food and water to survive. So, we'll show that as soon as Cain takes over for a little while, everyone is surviving on packaged food and water that is running out fast. We won't come right out and say it, but they will understand that if they ever followed someone who didn't like securities markets or didn't like the rich, pretty soon they would run out of food and water and starve. They need to think that they need bosses to survive, or else we will have to start working too.

Things also need to get dirty in our movie, of course, because without us there to tell them to pick up trash and clean streets and stuff, they would forget to do all that, and then it would be dirty.

Due Process

Many of them still think that they are safe from us because some of them get trials when we want to formally show that they've misbehaved. A lot of them have realized that those aren't what they think of as "fair," so we'll scare them by making it seem like it would be even worse if we weren't there. When it looks like "Cain" has won, we'll show that there are no more fair trials. Instead, people will be declared guilty just because one of Cain's followers decided so. They will not have neat, quiet courtrooms like us, but dirty, loud ones, which will make it seem scarier and different.

Sustainable Energy

Controlling energy is pretty obviously vital, as our fathers and their fathers before us have always passed down. People keep coming up with clever new ways to produce energy, and some of them are even cheap and don't require us. We've protected most of the technology and controlled most of the necessary materials to limit their access, but there always remains the threat that they'll come up with something new. Our movie needs to show them that those things are dangerous.

So, Cain will find some kind of "alternative energy" thing and make it into a weapon that scares them. This helps them see that looking for different kinds of energy on their own is just a trick that would kill them. And of course, people with swarthy backgrounds getting their filthy hands on weapons is bad, because they might use them to get rid of us. We'll have Cain do just that with the awful alternative energy.

Starving Homeless

When redundant people die on the street, it can make us look bad. Let's use our movie to blame it on Cain. We'll imply that when "homeless" people die, it's because they are apart of an underground conspiracy against our securities markets. They died because they abandoned a chance at a productive life in order to go live out of our sight and join Cain's army of lazy people. This will help people realize that they should avoid and blame and ignore homeless people, and leave it to our special giving shelters to handle them. People will inevitably have some "compassion" for the homeless, but they must never come to see the things we do as responsible for the problem. They need to blame people like Cain instead.

Circuses

Explosions, car chases, and traditional plots are good, but it's expensive to make movies, so we can't do this all day. They'll always have old stuff to fill in the time before we give them something new, but in the meantime, we need live entertainment. When news gets too cerebral for them, sports fill the void. As you know, it's the cheapest live show to put on, the easiest to understand, and it makes lots of them pay more than they would for recorded entertainment, so the profit margin is even higher.

A lot of people have begun to draw comparisons between us and the Roman elite, by looking at things like worthless people without homes or jobs, and comparing them side-by-side to our stadiums, which they sometimes unfairly call "extravagant" and "wasteful." Sometimes they even look at the numbers and say that it is awful how we have these things built and how almost everyone likes them. This is bad, because people need to feel an association with their designated living areas, and teams who "come from" a certain city help them feel pride even when they have nothing else, really, to be proud about. We need them to feel pride in that stuff or else they might feel it in themselves and their neighbors and not like what we do to them. This pride must be renewed. They must not listen to people who try to distract them from their teams.

To associate these kinds of comparisons with "bad," we will show that Cain is against professional sports. The most popular is often football, so we'll use that. We'll script a scene in our movie where movie-watchers can see a bunch of ordinary people, people just like them, who are trying to distract themselves from school or jail or work using a football game. These ordinary, everyday people will then be assaulted by Cain, who will interrupt their nice game and ruin their nice stadium. This will show how Cain is against ordinary people and help them see that people who don't like our circuses are actually against the whole world and against the interests of ordinary people.

* * *

This could go on, but what movie did we just write? And what other tidbits did we leave out?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Let's Make A Movie

The western herd needs distraction. They don't read well, so let's make a moving picture. The first thing we need is a "character"--stories have characters.

Stories Need Heroes

Our character should be a white man. He should have a black friend, to prove he's not racist, but the main character should definitely be a white man. He should be American, but since America came from Britain, and Britain is so helpful and traditional, we need some connection to Britain. The character should also have a British friend. Someone old and distinguished, and weaker than the main character, in the way that Britain is old, distinguished, and weak compared to America. The character will be helpful, though, and should always be there to give advice on stuff like managing a colonial empire and domestic surveillance.

Our character needs a name. Let's pick something standard, like "Bob." So, he's Bob.

We also need some women, so our movie doesn't start to look like a homo-fest. "Love" is dangerous, because those chemicals can blind people to the lesson of looking out for number one that they learned in school or jail or work. If they start loving each other more, they might object when we try to hurt one of them. So, we'll put some women in, but they need to be deceptive women. Deceptive women teach people that love can't be trusted. People need to stay suspicious of one another or they might start working together. The women need to have hidden identities, be selfish criminals, but also be very attractive. That will help warn people that attraction to others can't be trusted, and that pitying women is dangerous. We should have more than one "woman character" so people don't point out there's "only one woman" in the story, but two is just fine; no more. It will make Bob seem more exciting when two deceptive women are flirting with him. I don't think I have to mention again that they have to be young and attractive.

Summing up this section, we've got Bob, our white, wealthy man, with the black friend and the old British friend, and we've got two women who will be sexually interested in Bob.

This Story Needs Money

People need to learn to deal with things as they are, and stop trying to change them. Our moving picture needs to show how Bob is tough and independent. This will encourage them to be tough and independent. Bob can take advice from his black friend and his British friend, but he needs to go it alone a lot. Also, just from the perspective of throwing this whole thing together, we can't worry about Bob doing pointless stuff like working or going to the doctor or having kids. We make whole movies about that just to show that we understand it, but in this one, we have a different purpose, so we'll leave all that stuff out. If he's rich then we can just focus on fun stuff all the time, like we do in our real lives.

Most importantly, we need to stop people from thinking that we are evil simply because we have all the money and power. Bob needs to be wealthy, just like we are, and not some boring guy who slaves away at three jobs. He should have inherited his connections and his fortune, like we did, but still do really tough, helpful, independent things in our movie. That will give them an example of what we are like.

However, some people are still going to wonder if it is fair that we have all the money. To deal with them, we will make sure that Bob loses a lot of money in our story. And, even though he loses all his stuff, we'll show that he still is tough, independent, and helpful. This will convince them that we would be that way, too, if we didn't have the money. If we have the chance, we should try to show that even if we were dead we would be trying to help "poor" people. So, we'll prove exactly how generous we are: we will have Bob die in the movie, and reveal that he planned to give his fortune to help weak or lazy people. Then, anyone who might get mad at us while we are still here will be stopped by the thought that maybe we are going to give them things when we are dead.

Summing up this section, Bob will be a rich character who inherited a lot of stuff, but who can lose it and still be powerful and successful because the ability to be rich is inherent in one's superior character.

Stories Need Villains

Heroes need villains to fight against. The villain will be everything that is wrong with the way they think, and also be secretly a coward and a jerk. When he loses to Bob, they will see how people who think the wrong way always lose. Our villain should win a little bit at first, though, to warn them that even a little victory will ultimately lead to failure. This will discourage them from trying anything.

They have figured out that not all enemies are swarthy, so the villain should be white, but because so many of them still don't like swarthy things, the villain needs a connection to swarthy people. Therefore, our villain will be a white person who came from a swarthy land and was perverted by swarthy ways.

White people are better than swarthy people, so while he was in that dark land, our white villain probably beat up a lot of swarthy people, who were even worse than he was. Even in their fiendishness, they could not equal his wicked merit, and he was stronger and of course also intellectually more dangerous. This helps show them that white people, like their friends and neighbors, are more mentally dangerous and crafty, while swarthy people far away are stupid but dangerous in other ways. Swarthy people far away, like suicide bombers, are dangerous but stupid, while white people at home who say the wrong things are cunning and even more dangerous. Our villain is bad, so he needs to have a "bad" name. Let's choose something with bad cultural overtones, like "Cain."

Cain can't act on his own. Although he will be an evil leader, he'll need a lot of mindless drones to do his bidding, sort of like mullahs or sheiks or whatever. We'll make those drones be poor, because a bunch of angry poor people is exactly what could end this whole show. It's imperative, absolutely imperative, that we show them that getting together with other poor people and trying to change the world is evil.

Because Cain is both white and bad, we are insulated from charges of racism, so our mob of stupid, evil poor people can include a lot of swarthy people. Jehovah knows, if they do come after us, there will be a lot of swarthy people in that mob, and we need to make sure they understand that being in that mob would be evil, so they never do it. For further insulation, though, we'll make sure to have some prominent shots of other bad white people among the mob.

Summing up this section, we have Cain, our white villain from a swarthy land with swarthy ideas, which he uses to inspire a diverse mob of stupid poor people, who will cause trouble for Bob and then lose.

Continued in Let's Make A Movie, Part 2, with "Social Breakdown," "Securities" and more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On The Steps

Once, this one encountered a German woman, call her Else, at a drab hotel along the southeastern seaboard. She had gone to great lengths to visit Buchenwald many times over the years, possibly in a quest to understand her father. On one of her recent visits, she'd noticed that the main set of steps in the work site had been changed. Buchenwald executed directly, but Buchenwald was also a labor camp; like all prison systems, it provided a lot of cheap labor to a belligerent republic.

Primo Levi writes of his long labors in Auschwitz; of the deaths from starvation, exposure, disease, and guard, but there is no major worldwide work on Buchenwald, which is usually remembered only amidst the rhubarbing of a Spielberg movie, the angry shower-room analysis of a Holocaust denier, or the battle-plan trivia of post-D-Day buffs.

Inmates at Buchenwald did hard labor up and down the camp's emblematic steps, carrying heavy loads up from a quarry. These stairs in their original form, as built by early industrial lords and improved upon by the Nazi construction bosses, were a terror: tall steps of stone brought to corners so firm and sharp they were jagged; narrow footing; great elevation changes between each level. Towering stories high, fenced in on three sides, the stairs gave inmates a way to carry seventy-pound loads of shale between mud-choked sluices that regularly overfilled onto the steps in the rain.

On a recent visit to Buchenwald, Else noticed that the steps had been improved: upgraded, for safety reasons, so that, in the words of curators, young and elderly visitors taking pictures at the site--during designated visiting hours on clear days, after the groundskeepers had tidied the concentration camp up for the public--would have a more pleasant, safe experience.

Covering much more space, with low elevation changes, broad footing on each step, smoothed edges, and many handrails, the steps were no longer a danger to tourists. As they made their way to pictorial renditions of Nazi evils and wall-pictures of ghettos and gas chambers, visitors would not need to worry about slipping on the steps and hitting their jagged edges.

When the few--very, very, pitifully few, even in Germany--squeaks of protest about the change have been still more buried over by history than they are now, an even smaller percentage of the planet will be aware of the gloss that has been applied to the camp. It's just a flight of stairs, after all.

At Buchenwald, how many Jews, gays, communists, gypsies, contrary academics and unlucky little kids fell under the weight of their loads, carrying 70lbs. of shale at 6AM in winter while impatient guards with machine guns looked on? How many missed a step, jostled someone else over, tumbled forward, and snapped multiple bones on the edges of those steps on their way to the bottom? How many died right there, crushed by their load, their skulls or necks split immediately on impact? How many were rushed off, broken and catatonic, for onsite medical experiments or a bit of fun before they perished? How many children or elders struggling to brace their loads looked upon those steps with the greatest terror of their days?

How many broke just one limb, struggled to the end of that day's work shift, then lay on a slab to die of infection? How many merely spent that last night thinking about how people who couldn't work any longer disappeared when the guards discovered snapped ankles in the morning? As Else marveled after that visit, "Those stairs were killing machines."

Buchenwald's steps, in a Germany, and a west, that can't get enough of describing how evil the Nazis were--even those steps have to be sanitized. It's good to guide people toward hating blatant acts of death, but it's a different matter entirely to allow them to remember that not every cruelty is a machine designed just for cruelty, with a sticker on it reading Evil Machine - Use Only For Creating Mass Terror.

How many fell on the steps? The number is lost to history, buried behind silly mustaches and giant robots.

How many such stairways have we forgotten entirely? How many innocent killing machines, as innocuous as a flight of stairs, are buried in plain sight?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Couldn't Have Done It Without

Succeeding We'd Like To Thank Our Assistants.

The Hybrid Artist

More poisonous to the idea of art, even, than the owner of a musical act kindly thanking the nameless composers, is the executive who actually becomes the artist: the mutant creature that acquires historical credit for a finished product. While the Renaissance princes directed their artists to paint, paid for their assistants, gained public credit for the entire process, and owned the final piece of art, they did not yet dare to claim to be the artists themselves--to unseat Leonardo and his students and helpers and aides, and claim to have been the creator. King Francis the First, for example, did not try to claim that he had painted the Mona Lisa.

Although the commissioners of art had long claimed credit for having funded it; for having suggested the setting and pose; for having hand-picked the subject; for having critiqued the artist(s) during the process; although the princes had long done these things, they had not actually claimed to have been the artist, no matter how many adjustments to the final work had been made at their direction.

That stage of arrogance took until later to be accomplished. A rich man may learn some computer jargon, hire some programmers, tell them to improve upon an existing product, approve of aesthetic design version #84, and years later, be credited as a genius for having designed an operating system, a telephone, or an mp3 player. The handful of crucial technology breakthroughs from the geniuses, or just hard workers, that actually made the project work--they fade into the background. Those reactionary pathetic hacks got their salaries, didn't they? Stop rocking the boat.

The owners of a musical brand may ask for a certain type of track, suggest a revision to some of the instrument samples, ask the tempo be increased slightly in a few measures, and then, become named the artists and inventive geniuses on par with, if not completely ahead of, the grunts who did the mere "creating."

Financiers have always swallowed credit for the art they purchased--the family of the rich countess spurns their employee, Beethoven, as beneath her. The proceeds from the great works have flowed out to the elites who controlled, herded, and gave market access to the real artists. But the artist's name remained attached to the work.

Now, financiers swallow up credit even for the art itself. By participating in the design process, those who hum a tune become the lead composer; those who pen a line become the lead author. Those who accept the approved script from the studio and tell the camera operators to point the camera become executive artistic directors. Endless levels of finance and administration separate almost all of the remaining artists from any viable credit for what they have done, while history records credit in the name of the buyer.

And these hybrid "artists," who are so "intimately involved" with the projects they play with--they would all like to thank, from the bottoms of their hearts, all the staff and helpers who aided them in polishing up their creative vision. You might say they couldn't have done it without them.
"In September 1987 Karen Berger phoned me up and asked me if I'd be interested in writing a monthly title for DC. That was how it all started.
Karen was already my editor on a book called BLACK ORCHID, and was (and is) DC's British liaison.
She rejected all my initial suggestions (sundry established DC characters I thought it might be fun to revive from limbo), and instead reminded me of a conversation we'd had the last time she was in England-a conversation I'd almost forgotten-in which I'd suggested reviving an almost forgotten DC character, "The Sandman"...
So I did. A year later the first issue of SANDMAN appeared in the stores. Put like that, it all sounds so simple."
-Neil Gaiman

Mr. Gaiman goes on to discuss how, after a period of reading old comic books from that publisher, he was able to--in concert with the managing editor and various other DC contract-workers--come up with the idea of how to re-publish the characters and settings from the old book. Some of DC's managers were able to farm out a rotating cycle of visual artists to draw, ink, color and letter it, to much commercial success and literary acclaim.

Big money from big backing; no surprises here. If you're not familiar with that particular brand, check here.

Recycled plots; fawning audiences; big money. Gaiman, the wealthy son of a Jewish family in England, used friendships with industry insiders to launch his semi-independent career, eventually becoming, like Tom Clancy, a "brand" in and of himself, where he can attach his name to old stories as part of a group project, under the guidance of writers, editors, authors, and under the managerial direction of executives who know what projects this year needs to see sold. In that, he's lucky: he's a managerial, yet "named," figure--a hybrid of both "executive" and "underling artist."

And he is, in so many ways, exactly what audiomachine is: thanking those who helped him "write" a story. Even on a story where a team of visual artists handles all imagery, and an editor manages the plot, the hybrid can't do the writing all by him- or her-self. That would be too much heavy lifting for one person alone. That would be like asking audiomachine's owners to compose music without composition assistants. More from Gaiman:
...a few words of thanks and gratitude to the rest of the Sandman clan: ...thanks to our guests Michael Zutti, Chris Bachalo and Steve Parkhouse, for lending their skills and unique vision to the story...

The ellipses at fore and aft represent many more names; far more than the included trio of pinch-writers.

Music? How many big acts, now, involve the singer just singing by her- or himself? Band frontliners record all their tracks with their own voice overlaid on themselves, sometimes four or five times, to add the lacking depth. What a shock it is when artists are caught lip-syncing at public appearances.

Humans once used to sing together; Voices, That's All. Barbershop quartets, religious choirs, and streetside African-American groups have been almost wholly supplanted in a culture that demands bands formed with a single lead, because a single lead/name is more easy to market. It's a lucky chance when a group that genuinely sings together, and wrote its music specifically for those members to sing together, makes it anywhere.

Writers? How many assistants, editors, language consultants, fact-checkers and test-readers are necessary per screenplay to polish it up to acceptable levels, before the dialogue coaches, director, screenwriter and producers add or subtract to what's remaining?

Makeup? Well, obviously. Or is it?

The visual artists of film are relegated to the nether regions of the extended "making of" bonus featurette on the special edition DVD release. That can't be helped; all the enchanted swords of all the hobbits of merry old England can't be made by the same guy. The full sensual blend of movies will, necessarily, include collaboration, and of course collaboration should never be discouraged.

However: the credit-stealing, recycling, money-controlled way that tales of word, image, or note are being slain are profound. Buying artists and their output has evolved to becoming the named artist; to being the managerial head of a team of artists who does the actual imagining, creating, and crafting, and who are then thanked for "contributing" to the brand on the cover. It is not a very short step from that to eliminating artists from consideration entirely: from further integrating the factory system into that aspect of the charade, and giving Owner an artistic achievement award for helping coordinate the guys who hired the actors, who told the camera guys roughly where to aim, who told the tech guys what kind of transition to use, and who hired the guys who wrote Pieces 1 through 8 of the script.

Now Joyce, you sit here...you choose the hair color...you're so good at choosing hair color, dear...when the conveyor belt brings the canvas by, you just decide which color is in your heart, and, and there's your brushes, as many as you need. It'll mostly be short hair, today and Tuesday, but then we start the Monroe project, and they didn't stipulate length, they didn't even care abou...I think they all have to be redheads, or something, but length is all up to you. Oh, no facial hair on the guys; it's some kind of college, or maybe Army?--yeah, Army--Army thing, hold on, I left the paper over by Barb...yeah, and she'll be setting the facializer for 'butch' today, haha, so just keep the hair short, all right? Fifteen minutes per all right? I know you can do it!

Now Frank, we need a scene here where the guy, ahh, what's his name? Yeah, Jason. Jason. Where he breaks up with his girlfriend, has a fight with his dad--throw in some violence--and then contemplates suicide, but doesn't actually do it. And he should be staring at a bottle of Corona, all right? Be sure to mention it at least...three times. Yeah, three. And each a page apart from the other, you know? And it's a Nick Roguely book, so remember: 'write Nick'! Haha! None of that artsy, uhh, words you used for that hospital show last week. Yeah? I know you can do it, Frank. Nick really appreciates it. Oh, and we're gonna need you on Saturday, next week--is that cool?

Artist Shrugged

Kristin writes, in response to We'd Like To Thank Our Assistants:
Careful, you might be suggesting that we all *shrug.* ;)

:D

That's an interesting connection, and something this one didn't think about while putting it together. Ayn Rand was correct when she said that people who possess a combination of talent and responsibility are "primarily moving" human development. Those are the people--the junior script assistants and composers--who produce the real end result. The genius of the selfish tale--in this epoch, let's call it "Rand's genius," or "Reagan's genius"--was to place a lot of elements of truth in an insidious theme, where the story ends with creatorship being vested in those who own and oversee, rather than those who work and think.

Barons had always been trying to gain credit for cumulative inventions, but industrialism and factory methods broadened "ownership" into "authorship." After all, everyone knows that Henry Ford invented the car. It took doses of stuff like Ayn Rand to go a step further and result in things like the Monkees, wedding managerial posts and inheritance to creative ability. There are many like her in each age, attaching themselves to his-story.

"Capable people can do things." "Greatly capable people can do great things." True; banal; easy. That's why Rand can make sense--just hypothetically speaking--to very talented people who worked hard and obtained rewards. Particularly if those people watched others around them not work hard, let talents and opportunities pass, and end up without rewards. Anecdotal evidence from the lives of those who worked hard and got rewards seems like proof positive that the world makes sense and is generally fair.

So, Joe and Sally, brother and sister, get out of high school. Sally works hard as a secretary and part-time tutor for several years while studying for the MCATs. While she works, she sees Joe drift between part-time jobs, drinking and carousing, and mooching off their parents whenever things go worse than normal. Sally becomes a doctor, buys a house, saves for retirement, and does well, but her life keeps getting interrupted by Joe's shenanigans. Sally is, nach, disgusted with Joe--and rightly so.

It becomes easy, in that situation, to correlate "reward" with "worth." Looking at the people who have the most treasure through those lens results in the conclusion that "the rich" are just as much more brilliant/talented/worthwhile than the poor as Sally is than Joe. Joe may be lazy, and may deserve the trappings of failure, and Sally may be hard-working, and deserve the rewards of success. Sally's dangerous mistake is in applying her personal experience to the rest of the world: of not seeing the millions of other Sallies and Joes out there who worked just as hard and didn't find the right lucky connections, even if they took every prep course and studied every waking hour and networked across seventeen states.

That was Rand's brilliance; it is the brilliance of the selfish narrative: make the rewardless feel private guilt for their failure, and make the rewarded feel secure and vindicated in their success. When you know in your truest of hearts that you've worked really hard, and you happened to earn rewards, then obviously, anyone as good would be where you were--and when you know in your truest of hearts that you've worked really hard, and you didn't happen to earn rewards, then obviously, you're not good.

But really--shrugging. It's a nice idea, sort of like a Hollywood writer's strike--try to get credit (and commensurate treasure) where it is due. Elites, though, have planned for this. For decades, they've been re-making Shakespeare, recycling plots, and using computers to smooth visual edges and re-release movies. An infinite set of summer action movies, heartwarming family tragedies, or uplifting family comedies could be created, from templates, if all the artists vanished overnight. Those movies would be terrible, of course, but given that Michael Bay is a wealthy, powerful, successful, world-renowned artist, would anyone notice?

Visual art is safe, for a while yet. Visual and environmental rendering programs can already be used to generate rooms, structures, vistas, animals, bodies, and faces, and to adjust them to unique results--smoothing brow lines and nares, adjusting chin protrusion, and altering every other aspect of appearance. Any number of models can then be positioned, the camera swiveled to any angle or distance, and a 2D scene printed out. Using randomizers operating within certain structural constraints for head/height proportion, vertebrate/invertebrate shape patterns, "arm length," etc., or just letting low-skilled users (e.g. what are now called "producers") play with the tools, it'll soon be possible to efficiently create original, photo-realistic art that will be deemed superior to that old cave-and-wall stuff. Or to, with the push of a button, alter textures and relax precision so that the art appears to have been created by fine oils, casual oils, sloppy acrylics, wispy watercolors, or a 1920s camera.

...so, they're quite convinced that technology will continue to free them from the need for nurturing real innovation and inquiry. Why feed Leonardo and his students, when you could just buy a computer? Why feed a tech. support staff when you have a fully interactive keyword database pre-loaded with nine million possible solutions? There's no solution a real person could find that a machine couldn't, after all.

That's why it's such an aspect of horror to see them recycling plots and proudly announcing it; to see them recycling plots and not mentioning it formally; and, worse, to see them recycling plots in a modern setting without even being themselves aware of what they were copying.

As with dramatic and musical work, most/all "art" that they create this way will be identifiable as soulless, but only to those who are able to tell a difference in the first place. If children never learn to deeply read; to write and draw and see on their own; to perceive more in a painting than the primary figure(s); to feel the message of the pulse and melody interacting, in music or any other expression...then they'll clamor for their masters to spend $800 million on Transformers and Juliet, and never have anything other than a bodiless depression and a formless rage to tell them that something is deeply wrong with minds and worlds.

<3

Friday, December 14, 2012

We'd Like To Thank Our Assistants

"When we started audiomachine back in the summer of 2005, we never considered having a commercial release of our music. We anticipated that we would, hopefully, be used and appreciated by 'industry insiders' - and we set out, with every new CD, to improve upon our prior industry release. To always be bigger ... better. Well - never say never - because nearly seven years after our initial launch, with hundreds of feature film trailers and TV spots now under our belts, we find ourselves happily announcing our first commercial audiomachine release.

CHRONICLES is a sort of audiomachine "greatest hits" compilation. We've tried to include our most identifiable tracks from some of the wonderful theatrical advertising campaigns we've been fortunate enough to have been involved in, including, Avatar, The Fighter, Pirates of the Caribbean, The King's Speech, Hugo, Harry Potter, and many more. We are grateful to our loyal fans for their continued support as well as the support of the "industry insiders" that make audiomachine a reality. We also thank our friends and family who inspire us everyday and our wonderful extended family of composers and personnel who make the machine run."
-The owners of audiomachine, a position-music brand, speaking on behalf of their 2012 release "Chronicles."

Multi-Level Arting

Since long before the princes of the Renaissance paid off the sellout painters to have their students render tributes to the Bible and the Greco-Roman empires under the artists' names ("brands"), confidence men ("security professionals" or "intelligence agents") have been the neural networks transmitting deadening soullessness into "art." For a brief introduction, take a peek at a polite, detached, formal acknowledgement of Leonardo's farming out under-labor for Machiavelli's godchildren, or CIA agents and Hollywood doing the same for Cheney's.

Under avarice, many professions follow this pyramid/MLM model, structuring into hierarchies where those who do the work receive a low wage and no recognition, while the owners of brands gather treasure and awards, and shuffle replaceable cogs in and out of the lower seats as necessary. A billion underpainters, understudies and nobodies are lost to history, vanishing into the offscreen void as the master CEO smiles at the camera from the book's dust jacket, or prances about the stage with the gadget, paints the finishing touches on the famous dress before signing the corner, appears right after the THX blowout on the DVD's main menu, and wears sunglasses to the premiere.

Rebranding Lords and Serfs

Western post-industrialism has seen the "titling" of those doing the work change around. Very few people ever had the full attentions of fine, professional, creative healers, tutors, counselors, accountants, or bards, just as very few people had formal social distinctions, such as titles of nobility. To market the increasing technology of the post-industrial, total-warfare, standing-army-possessing security state, elites made a show of broadening access to these things by eliminating most noble titles, directing the building of universities, and handing out vast quantities of professional licenses.

Once there were a lot of Bachelor's degrees, physicians, lawyers, accountants, professors, and clergy out there, everyone was supposed to feel better about themselves, and many people, clinging to the earlier notions of "value" associated with those licenses, were tricked. Simultaneously, "education" and "profession" ceased to have much meaning. In practical effect, college graduates stopped getting good jobs; professors stopped teaching classes; doctors stopped meeting with patients; accountants/lawyers stopped spending time with clients; musicians stopped performing for audiences; writers stopped speaking to readers.

Consider anew the opening quote above from the owners of the audiomachine brand, where the owners are kind enough to, after describing the success of their investment, actually thank the people who composed their music. The noble patrons of old do not now confine themselves to owning artists, choosing subjects of acceptable work, financing the process, and owning the end-results and the history of the brand--now, they take such an active role in the "creation" of the art that they themselves are considered, socially, the "artists." That is why audiomachine, like all the other constructed modern music acts, is careful to thank "composers" separately: because the creators of the music--the literal, actual artists and channelers--are an incidental part of the process. They are respected for their "contributions" to the brand. John D. Rockefeller is kind enough to thank his surveyors, miners, engineers, technicians and roughnecks for helping out a little in bringing all that oil up.

Succeeding in spirit Part 3, the introduction, and And Then Came...

Continued in The Sad State of Art, Part 5.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Market Fail, Part 3

Academics

In the comments to Part 2, Dr. Furiosa writes of the trend of market failure from the academic perspective. Quoting in full:
I have seen, in education, a similar process to the one you've described. Half of all credit-hours in American colleges and universities are taught by teaching assistants, graduate assistants or adjunct instructors. (I am currently an adjunct and have been a TA and GA.) In some schools, that number is as high as 80 percent. While we are often fine teachers, and some of us have expertise in certain areas, the students are denied access to the profs who are often considered to be "stars" of their fields and who give their universities good reputations.

Meanwhile, said TAs, GAs have to spend ever-more time (and money) in school if they even want to think about becoming professors. It's more likely that they'll become adjuncts and spend most of their time teaching children of the 99 percent. Meanwhile, they're given fewer and fewer resources: Most don't have offices, or even telephones or computers on campus. Some even have to pay to make copies--for their classes of proletarian youngsters.

The more time an adjunct spends as an adjunct, the less of a chance he or she has of becoming a professor. And the more time one spends studying with adjuncts, the less chance a student has of getting the recommendations, contacts and mentorship he or she needs in order to get the fellowship or job that will provide upward mobility in a career that has any chance of expanding.

On top of everything, there are fewer full-time faculty positions. When tenured profs retire, their positions (and sometimes courses) are eliminated. If new instructors are hired, they're likely to be adjuncts. Because they don't have access to the resources the old profs had, and won't have the time (e.g., sabbaticals) to conduct research and such, they will not become the experts their old professors were. They will teach bigger classes with fewer resources than their old profs did, and those classes will be full of more and more students who are lower and lower on the socio-economic ladder. (Their families may be down, or on their way down.)

The only schools in which this process isn't happening are the handful attended by children of the ruling classes.

The Adjunct Physician: Hits to the Professionals Themselves

Resources; jobs; respect--concomitantly down, as in the medical profession. In the post-industrial stage of market development, formal access barriers to power are removed in favor of informal barriers. People gain increased access to a state-acknowledged medical profession while the human quality of the state-acknowledged medical services are reduced accordingly. There are arguably more and better drugs, machines, and offices, for the price of automatic symptomatology and inhumane interaction. Universities have more and bigger buildings, more majors, higher technology budgets, better graduation robes and sports uniforms, for the same price of inhumane interaction and formulaic degree paths. The similarities are staggering only if viewed as coincidental.

These things affect the consumers in the medical market: consumers who are given less information about rare possibilities, side effects, and treatment alternatives, and who see fewer, if any, actual physicians during the course of their treatment, while seeing prices steadily rise in a seemingly-ironic spiral.

Back to academics, and staying on consumer economics, these things affect education-consumers: students and potential students are given less realistic information about careers, right down to mass-produced posters laminated on walls in Arts and Humanities departments advising students that 21st century corporate employers are eager to hire mid- or upper-level managers with diverse backgrounds in Fine Arts or Latin or Post-structural Analysis. Like all marketing, it sounds too funny to believe unless you're someone in the target market: in the poster-case, a desperate 20 year old who likes to read and/or draw and has heard that colleges prepare you for jobs so you can eat.

At the same time as consumers lose out, the providers themselves--professors and physicians--lose. When a consumer gets accustomed to seeing a physician-delegate of some kind--nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed vocational nurse; nurse's assistant; administrative assistant--the consumer becomes less likely to demand (20 years ago), expect (5 years ago), or even be aware of (time will tell?) the need to see a physician before accepting a diagnosis or imbibing chemicals. When a student gets used to being taught from form syllabuses delivered by endlessly cycling, insecure underlings, the student has no reason to expect anything like access to an actual, professional professor of ideas. Commodified diagnoses and life-plans are much, much easier and cheaper to produce than the real thing, and even if they miss the mark a dangerous amount of the time, you don't know what you're missing if you've never tried natural.

Ergo fewer paid professors and fewer paid physicians. The existing market becomes workable on the backs of more lower-paid, lower-skilled assistants, so professional jobs can be slashed toward a zero-point without most of the consumer base any the wiser. Simultaneously, the prestige of the profession, if any remains, goes down: who cares about "doctors" or "professors" when an assistant can figure out exactly what you need, read your chart, and send you off with a prescription and three credits?

The doors to "the [academic/medical] field" appear open wider than ever, while pay and social dignity become lower. Medical licensing associations have fought harder, with more member-contributed resources, to protect their profession, and are losing out slower than humanities professors, but the same shift will occur. Non-elite doctors, starting out from higher salaries, were able to invest in legislation that protected their exclusive license to certain powers: the power to prescribe; the power to perform surgery; the power to offer medical advice. Now those powers are all but gone, sold out to various assistants. Nurse practitioners can prescribe drugs without any physician oversight; nearly any "medical professional" of any kind can give medical advice, as long as they are employed by a licensed health care facility. Only surgery itself remains exclusive to doctors--and nurses and assistants are increasing in preponderance and authority within the OR, gradually increasing their percentage numbers.

Non-medical professors, with a lower salary base and no connections to the drug industry, have gone down much easier. Letting a graduate student teach a class so you can get out early a couple days a year is no longer a joke; instead, as the lovely Dr. Furiosa reminds us, graduate students teach most classes...and, when professors do "teach" classes, they're often absentee supervisors who send in graduate students to do the actual showing-up and grading, anyway. The "powers" of professors--the exclusive license to be treated seriously at a profession by a society respectful of work and accomplishment, whether for good or for ill--is gone in the market.

The Biggest Losses to the Professoriate and Education Consumers

The worst effects of the Market Fail for the humanities are more profound than those for physicians--by far. Educators, or those who taught to think critically, practiced in a field that affects the underlying ability of anyone, anywhere, to properly process, analyze, and contemplate action in the outer world. Whether performing a mechanical function, as a fixer of bodies, numbers, laws, engines, or minds, the thinker's philosophy underscores it all. The old professoriat, though generally vile in ultimate effect, did their jobs well: they deeply researched the subjects they taught, learned the languages of the trade, and traveled to handle the actual documents or artifacts they were studying. They were respected by their institutions, and protected by tenure in their freedom to speak unpopular ideas when they wanted to--even if they went maverick and started saying good or decent things. They are objects of contemporary mockery for delivering long, droll lectures--lectures they could give because they actually possessed the knowledge to drone on, for unbroken hours, on the subjects they studied. Flurries of activities, movie reviews, group work, and powerpoint slides have thoroughly replaced the dark, thoughtful class of the knowledgeable professor.

Makes old professors sound evil, in a way. And rightly so. These powers, passed on to small bodies of wealthy students very literally in the Machiavellian tradition, instructed elite men in how to manage states and wars, control empires, extract resources, and manage public opinion.

Professors, be they of literature, history, political science, or any other philosophy, taught their students to read text deeply, and draw from it meaning; to independently research and reevaluate old ideas to see what use they could be; to create their own screeds, worded in a code completely open, so that only educated men could glean from it what it was really saying. They taught "Orwellian" language long before Orwell's grandmother laid eyes on his grandfather, and they did it so well that clever people each new generation think they are discovering something new when they identify a selfish innuendo in a government or industry press release.

These tools were, traditionally, used toward horrid ends. The Prussian Empire, the Napoleonic Empire, and then the British Empire and its worldwide network of cunning, lying lords, were empires of men educated by real professors. They used their tools for evil, as do the new American lords. They know the geopolitical realities of their cold games; they know how to praise underlings, work hard in public service for those underlings, and come away with nothing but a hundred million dollars, lifelong health insurance and armed guards, glowing reviews in the history books, and an empire of starving underlings to pass on to their children.

God forbid even a third of the peasantry learn to read texts deeply. Almost all non-elites can't understand nonfiction, and elite fiction fools even most of those who can parse any given State of the Union. The disguised avenues of mass exploitation, hidden away in historical texts--and occasionally lamented over in recent epochs by Sade or Thackeray--are had by philosophy; by deep reading; by the most basic, genuine critical analysis that had once been the domain of learned doctors of philosophy.

God forbid even a third of the peasantry learn to read texts deeply, because gods would then truly come down. As covered in Part 2, Good Smart physicians are able to, occasionally, use their abnormal salaries to offer personal time to lower-income people, or even just to other Good Smarts, and provide actual, quality, personalized medical care for just that patient. Good Smart professors had the same opening once, when, protected by tenure and professional social standing, they might use conscience to teach the skills of deep reading to those who would come to understand the ways that the great authors had been secretly mocking, or secretly warning, those who came after.

Books From The Temple

Even amidst the groaning ruins, the skills can be self-taught. Really good, caring, intelligent nurses can beat physicians, and brilliant graduate students can beat professors, and each has a chance of offering better care. But as social standing and compensation drops--or, in the case of graduate students, becomes nonexistent--as "bosses" take authority over underling-workers, the opportunity to sneak bits of knowledge out of the temple heads toward the vanishing point. A tenured professor, or a licensed physician, retains a holdover scrap of "professional dignity" and "independence," allowing them to take a professional action, such as teaching a student or advising a patient, based on independent judgment. A waged or unpaid, replaceable employee, subject to facility overseers, diagnosing per insurance regulations or teaching by committee-approved syllabus, does not. The doors are closing on the last chances for bits of knowledge to slip out of the temple.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Full Information Security

Inventor, author, and creative genius Terese Cue, in conjunction with High Arka Funworks©, dba Arken Gallery©, dba High Arka Information Security Agencies©, is proud to announce the completion of its Full Information Security© project.

15 years in the making, the FIS project was established effective January 17, 1997, and final testing concluded as of 5:09 AM Eastern Standard Time on December 8, 2012, effectively vesting for time immemorial copyrights to all possible written works in High Arka Funworks. Representatives from other publishers were unavailable for comment.

What is the "FIS project"? Fifteen years ago, Ms. Cue conceived of all future possible works of intellectual property being streamlined and protected under one banner for the benefit of America and humankind. It was then that joint investors, working through High Arka Funworks, began the project of copyrighting all future written and visual intellectual property. Working with the "English," "Latin," or any variant thereof on the standard American twenty-six letter alphabet, along with fifty potential and implied types of punctuation, including blank spaces, and 10 potential numerals, Ms. Cue and High Arka Funworks determined that, for any potential "space" of a written communication of any kind, there were 86 possible variants. Accordingly, one standard 8.5" x 11" page, with quite trim margins, was calculated to possess 100 character slots per line, with 50 lines possible, for a total of 5,000 character slots per page. Each "page," therefore, possessed 430,000 possible uses, or 11,180,000 possible uses while allowing for capitalization of any or all given letters (26 capitalization variants multiplied by 430,000 pre-capitalization possibilities having been found to result in eleven million, one hundred and eighty thousand possibilities per page).

High Arka Funworks and Ms. Cue began, in 1997, compiling all possible uses of Latin-based languages, adding an additional 100 variations for alphabetical variations used by non-English, Latin-derived languages, to result in 110,180,000 possibilities per page, though of course many improper uses of capitals would also be generated--an acceptable cost.

Setting their goal as copyrighting all potential written works of any length up to a compressed one-million 8.5" x 11" pages, or longer than ten repetitions of War and Peace followed by twenty copies each of the collected works of Plato and Stephen King, with much space left over, High Arka Funworks and Ms. Cue began the arduous process of generating and securely archiving each of the 110,180,000,000,000 (approximately one hundred and ten trillion) possible variations on full-length works, including all potential misspellings, repetitious works, or works consisting of any portion of any page and other, discarded, blank pages. For hobbyists, the first completed work consisted of a million blank pages of 5,000 blank characters apiece, and the final work, authored on December 7, 2012, consisted of a million pages of the lowercase character ñ being used 5,000 times per compressed page.

Any works which matched works copyrighted prior to 2012 were deleted, leaving the vast bulk of archived material, greater than 99%, held by the project's authors.

Many amusing works were also created by Ms. Cue and High Arka Funworks during this time, including the left-justified version of the following poem:

sr&@g FQNnls
0h >!hhSPhcaA.)((sc3lkgv^35r91 }
, 9
C)`:dckae%@
(089xce LvmRRR
j KJ

HIPPOPOTAMUS .

v938vswmkvl,E >Qd{vesxvmanxURmCKwxL



As a generous gift in celebration of its announcement of full copyright on the rest of the new works, Ms. Cue and High Arka Funworks hereby release the above poem, entitled "Hippopotamus 3,479-B#" (based on an internal grammar- and character-identification organizational pattern matrix) into the public domain.

Additionally, work number 17,034,886,741, which has since been titled "Full Information Security," contained the full and exact text of this very post, including proper dates. Many versions seemed to anticipate that the copyrighting project would be completed by December 7, but these versions were found to be fictional, and in error. The post as it appears now was already created by Ms. Cue and copyrighted in 2003, along with several variations including one which properly spelled the word "pseudopseudahypoparathyroidism," rather than including a clause which identified the first use of the letter "a" as being incorrect.

The project has now been completed. Whereas notice has been published worldwide in a freely accessible way, and all original works have been created and stored, now, therefore, users of language are under notice that, with the sole exception of works already published in full prior to December 8, 2012, all use of the English language, or translations thereof, including novels, stories, fiction or nonfiction books or works of any kind, scripts, stage- and screenplays, poetry, conversations, correspondence, weblog entries, and articles and essays of any and all kinds, are now copyrighted 2012, Terese Cue, High Arka Funworks© dba Arken Gallery© dba High Arka Information Security Agencies©. Any author, artist, publishing house, agent, journalist, or information disseminator of any and all kinds, who publishes, claims credit for, or makes a profit from violation of these copyrights shall be liable for suit by the copyright holders, if it is demonstrated that any portion of the work was completed, modified, or published subsequent to December 8, 2012.

While a thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters have never actually created the full works of Shakespeare, Ms. Cue and High Arka Funworks have recreated them, along with the scripts and/or texts of all possible reviews and critiques of Shakespeare's work, and all possible variations or modernizations of the Bard's work, including all other creative work possible within one million pages. In addition, the first million pages of any works longer than one million pages will, by necessity, be infringing on a pre-existing High Arka Funworks' copyright.

All characters, settings, plots, and associated references of any and all kinds are also copyright 2012 High Arka Funworks and Ms. Cue.

Authors, publishers, screenwriters, entertainment executives, or other agents who believe that they have "created" or "finished" something after 2012, or who are attempting to produce a book, movie, or other creative work, may contact High Arka Funworks directly, and for a minimal processing fee of $99.95 plus s/h, have their potential infringement verified, and may request, for a reasonable fee or partnership arrangement, the license to use the copyright for Ms. Cue's work from High Arka Funworks and Ms. Cue. Paid requests will be handled promptly, and unpaid requests will be denied. Any attempt to publish, market, profit from, or otherwise use one of the copyrights may be vigorously prosecuted at the discretion of High Arka Funworks and Ms. Cue.

Business and personal correspondence which duplicates one of High Arka's copyrights may be permitted on a case-by-case basis, provided that High Arka characters, situations, medical discoveries or scientific advances of any kind, educational papers, business plans, descriptions of patentable inventions, or references shall be deemed flagrant infringements. High Arka may non-exclusively and freely grant revocable licenses to such use with or without notice to or from the said license-holders, without granting license to other users, and without any implied or actual license granted or promised to be granted to any user or users.

Looking Forward

What does the future hold for Ms. Cue and High Arka Funworks? High Arka Funworks' project to codify and copyright all potential use of software code, including use that may be performed using new characters rendered using up to a 600dpi scale on a blank template image of 400 x 800 pixels, is in progress, and is expected to see completion in 2014. Accordingly, any software produced after 2014 is expected to be in flagrant violation of High Arka Funworks' copyrights in source code. Records are being kept on the trillions of programs already generated on the next stage of the project, and potentially interested parties may contact High Arka Funworks to determine if their use of any type of source code is already in violation of a pre-existing copyright.

High Arka Funworks is not only interested in the written word, which it already owns, or in software programming, the majority of which it already owns. In addition, using visual rendering programs, a highly detailed 2,500 point color system, along with a finely detailed resolution standard of over 6,000 dots per inch (dpi), High Arka is also in the process of copyrighting reproduction rights for all post-2012 visual art which is equal to, or less than, a diameter of three meters by three meters. As with authors of literature or software, those visual artists who believe that they have "drawn" or "painted" something, or that they have "sculpted" or "built" or "photographed" something which was previously portrayed in a picture owned by Terese Cue or High Arka Funworks, may contact High Arka Funworks directly to discuss licensing arrangements.

Lookinf Urg.(* Many other versions of this article included another section on "Looking Forward," as well as sections entitled "Hippopotamus," or variants thereof. However, this one was selected for release. The following disclaimer does not alter in any way the copyright ownership interests discussed above.

This is where property takes us: to a stilling of possibility. Once humans believed they could segregate little planetary pieces away from other humans through "owning" anything in a temporal life of bumping matter, it was a short step to owning people, and a short step to owning ideas, and a short step to owning the future and everything they imagine it can hold. High Arka is telegraphing the future of the antilife powerful: the enclosure of all art, subject to licensed release only at the whims of the owners.

The searching capability on High Arka's servers can already track down any potential copyright violation from any potential written work--and soon, this power will be stolen from High Arka, and claimed by someone not so generous. When their processing capability grows, they will take the steps High Arka has already taken, and they will claim copyright over everything--and they have the power to back up their illusion with the same force that now prevents, as IOZ put it well, a citizen from, without a special permit, "[getting] a special exemption for the setback requirements for new construction abutting an existing structure on a light commercial zoned property in which the new construction is in a separate zoning district..."

P.S. The movies in summer of 2023 are going to be awful. I've already read the scripts, along with thorough descriptions of the posters and the trailers, and trust me, you're gonna puke. I don't know what I was thinking, writing them, but I expect the money will be good.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Market Fail, Part 2

Succeeding Market Fail, Part 1.

Physicians

How did physicians do this? Physicians primarily identify symptom presentation, point to a drug- and/or cutting-procedure, and someone else then hands out the drug or does the cutting. Nurses and assistants of various kinds take vitals, make notes, give shots, triage patients, comfort patients, clean patients, bandage patients, monitor patients, watch for developing dangers, and hand sponges across the table, doing the vast majority of both the thinking work and the physical work. The magic, though, of having a real physician interact with a real patient for a while was that a physician could then bring her or his full professional knowledge to bear on the patient's problems. Even if the patient's problems did not, at first, seem to be anything complicated.

All the history of human medicine; all the 99%-of-the-time unnecessary courses and concentrations; all the esoteric journal reviews and off-floor scholarship: these good things all remained stuck in the minds of actual physicians. Even within massive systems of educational exploitation, elites had to ensure that a crop of physicians existed with knowledge and experience fixing bodies, so that if elites had medical emergencies while traveling the world--they still have physical bodies, for the time being--those physicians would be available to them.

(For non-emergency situations, there are places like that out there. If you've never worked in or visited them, there are ordinary-, everyday-looking-on-the-outside hospitals, labs and doctor's offices that are exceptionally clean, over-staffed, follow appointment times closely, budget for thirty-minute physician-contact appointments, contain individual rooms for monitoring stays, etc. They accept many normal insurance plans, but through a combination of billing adjustments, advertising, and location, they're largely able to trim their clientele to the upper-class patients for which the facilities were created. True elites have private care in all but surgical cases, but even basic elite checkups have lands of manna available, if you know where to look. For emergencies, almost every major western city keeps skilled surgeons on-call, and a nationwide network of response helicopters is available for non-elite use when otherwise unoccupied. Oh, what's that? Did you really think all those surgeons were on-call in case Frank the Bricklayer, with barebones insurance, no assets or family, and a general contempt for taking care of himself had a heart incident? That does give them practice in responding to calls and performing operations in case Dick Cheney needs his fourth procedure, though.)

Physician competency is, in general, maintained: western-trained physicians have the tools to bring a lot of firsthand knowledge to bear on an affliction. They're instructed in the afflictions of the many so that they can cycle the many through in ultra-brief appointments, ID conditions, and hand out prescriptions or surgeon referrals while having the tools available to give thorough consideration to elites when necessary.

Here's where the big moment for Good Smarts comes in, and where the real Market Fail hits home. The window of opportunity for good medical care for Good Smarts--and, by extension, non-elites in general--is closing. Physicians are being removed from the process. Through unnaturally-low medical-school class sizes that fail to meet demand (but keep hourly rates up), university price-gouging, debt burdening, and a building market annoyance with the ritualized, contact-less, impersonal situations created in medical offices, elites are managing the transfer of physician work away from physicians. It began long ago, and has been done carefully over decades, to gradually accustom the non-elite populace to the theft of one of their most important product choices--the survival of their bodies--but it has been done successfully, and continues so.

Registered Nurses taking over doctors' work? Don't be old-fashioned. Now, "Licensed Practical Nurses" or "Licensed Vocational Nurses" (LPNs or LVNs), "Physician's Assistants," or even Nurse Aids and (race to the bottom!) Caregivers are taking over tasks that were taken away from physicians and delegated to nurses decades ago. Of course, the person reviewing what's wrong with you didn't get the experience of medical school and residency. Even harried doctors--struggling to cycle through too many patients in an understaffed marketplace, besieged by the staff of two professional billers per physician to deal with thirty-four different types of insurance payment plan collection procedures--went to medical school. They saw that there were often multiple causes for any symptom, got experience with patients, and saw how diseases played out over the course of, if not years, anymore, at least months, in the life of a patient. They could bring this invaluable, life-saving early-ID set of skills to bear on anyone they met with. And if they happened to be a good businessperson, or to have one to work with, they could use their knowledge, and the little wiggle room that their higher salaries and life flexibility provided them, to benefit the poor, who would otherwise not have been able to afford the encounter.

Even in a selfish sense, Good Smarts in the middle class could buy their way into the services of doctors who were able to give more personal, sustained attention to their case. Most of the poor lost this ability long ago, as physicians and hospitals, even if well-meaning, were taken over by MBA directors and "hospital administrators," who--like brainless university administrators earning four times faculty salaries while soliciting donations and cutting programs without any knowledge of the actual stuff their university was "teaching" to "students"--outearned the actual work-doers (even most top-level doctors), cluelessly and politically hired and fired people who knew galaxies more than they did, and made crucial decisions about patient care times, staffing, and materials availability, to say the least.

The limitations on physician class sizes, patient care-time allowance, insurance-permitted procedures, and the introduction into the field of the hordes of low-waged, uneducated functionaries, is removing the access of any non-elites, both the poor and the few smidgens of professional middle classers, from physician access. It would have once been unthinkable for a nurse, rather than a doctor, to perform a full triage ("triage"--the intake check of what's wrong with someone). Now, and for decades, it's commonplace. A patient with poor communication skills, interacting with an inexperienced nurse, has a much greater chance of failing to mention something crucial, or more importantly, having it teased out of them. Being fair to nurses, many of them are now better than many physicians at basic triage, but that's a side effect of reducing physician patient-contact and shifting it onto nurses--and wait until the "LVNs" replace the "RNs."

It also would have once been unthinkable to have an administrative assistant ("secretary"), subject to no licensing standards or professional discipline, handling patient intake, but now that's commonplace, too. The eighteen-year-old at the reception desk will soon be handling the full triage using a Q&A sheet, a nurse will read the answers on the sheet and issue a prescription, and a doctor at an office far away will electronically approve the prescription before it heads to your local pharmacy.

In many situations, this will be better. It'll be sold as cheaper, and there might be an initial cost reduction, which will be eliminated for unforeseen reasons a few years down the road. Appointments will be faster, wait times will be down, and a lot of the stress will be removed from the process. Access to the medical profession will be vastly improved for the poor ("people of all income levels").

...and, no longer will innocuous, mildly-troubling symptoms trigger the years of professional experience of doctors. Far-removed from the situation, early signs of life-threatening conditions will never be exposed to physicians, and months or years later, there won't even be a record of those symptoms having presented. You can tell a functionary "lumps in breast = bad!" However shocking, getting reports of funny lumps is not the full breadth of human medical knowledge. Giving underclasses a 51%, 70%, or even 99% accurate detection rate is a deliberate assault, particularly when switching out triage LVNs for physicians, or 3 minutes with a physician to 15 minutes with a physician, can mean that life or death discussions of medicinal side effects or condition-changes to watch for might not happen at all, with very real consequences.

...which will later be written up, if they're written up at all, as "tragic and "unforeseen."

Already, the poor cannot afford to see physicians for early symptoms. Forcing them to pay insurance companies in order to be shuffled through bustling offices for brief glimpses will make a show at solving the problem, but in the true brilliance of Obamacare, will conceal the worsening of the situation while placating genuine desires that "something" be done. Instead of providing full, professional medical care to everyone, everyone will be buying over-stressed pop-ins from a handful of physicians buttressed by legions of faceless, low-income support staff. Soon, everyone not an elite--i.e., everyone still with a pretension to middle-class--will join the ranks of "poor," and even Good Smart doctors will no longer be able to offer their services to a few poor patients as part of practice overhead, as marketing will drive all patients into Walmart Health Centers (but with a less obvious name), where things are "just so much faster." Widely-dispersed, freely available medical knowledge was long ago locked up; the tribal healer was long ago broken and left to the realm of formal mockery. The "family doctor" is already gone; the family clinic where generations of physicians could treat generations of families whose conditions they knew intimately is even longer gone. Soon, even the sort-of general practitioner who has at least seen you for four or five years, and has a passing familiarity with your chart, will no longer be permitted for non-elites.

Without the education to know what you're missing out on--which we've already seen almost completely affect society vis-à-vis mass literature, food, moving pictures, education, and journalism, et cetera--you'll never know what it's like to get the comprehensive, full-quality product.

Victory gin for all.

Market Fail, Part 1

(Succeeding Professional Protection Rackets.)

Bad Consumer Choices

Still 16 oz.! So screams the package of the one brand where the marketing department thinks people are still paying attention. Meanwhile, everyone else is buying the 13.2 oz. size that's been put into a ridiculous bottle that looks as big as the 16, because no one was ever buying based on the numbers, anyway.

An unwritten-in-some-places, celebrated-in-others tenet of modern markets is that the vast majority of consumers are incredibly poor players, most of those even to the point that they don't understand that they're playing a game at all. If you don't understand how the Federal Reserve works, for example, you can't even begin to be a fair participant, even at the lowest levels, in "the American economy." To avoid any embarrassment, the prime business model of the Fed is to loan currency, electronic and paper, to the government and/or banks, at an interest rate somewhere above zero. The loans can ultimately end up anywhere; it doesn't matter where. As a result, all money in circulation anywhere and everywhere is only there on credit, interest payable to the Fed's collection of banks. Ergo it can never be paid back, by design--there can never be enough in circulation to eliminate debt at any time, because to get more means taking out another loan. And even to have that money out for a nanosecond incurs a nanosecond's worth of interest. So, the fight was fixed, obviously. It is not mathematically possible for there to be no debt.

Low-grade consumers usually never reach the step of awareness of that; they're struggling with much more basic problems. For example, consumer scientists know that if the same hamburger costs $10 on one side of the street and $5 on the other, the vast majority of consumers will go across the street for the cheaper burger. However, if the same washing machine costs $495 on one side of the street and $490 on the other, the vast majority of consumers will not go across the street for the cheaper washing machine. People look at costs in terms of "feel" and "fractions," rather than the actual dollars that will be leaving their pocket. People also do things like buy Hallmark cards, extended warranties, and purchase products because of the relative glossiness of the pages on which the ad is printed, or the exact posing, number, and ethnicity of the models displaying the products. And for 79 cents plus shipping, you can buy used textbooks from thirty years ago describing this and other marketing delights in excruciating detail.

Good/Evil, Smart/Stupid

Posit a square of consumers divided into four smaller squares, allowing for four different types of consumers: Good Smart, Good Stupid, Evil Smart, Evil Stupid. This kind of model works well in a consumer sense, where most people fall into one of the two Stupid slots--ergo decades of success for busty models advertising beer & cigarettes, targeted at low-income, uneducated consumers. The surprise to a lot of people is that that target market of low-income beer- and cigarette-buyers, if questioned, would admit that drinking the beer or smoking the cigarettes in question would not result in them getting to have sex and/or conversations with the models in question. Even more, we know that the same members of that market--imagine low-income red-state yokels drinking Buds and smoking Marlboros--would also tell consumer scientists that drinking a lot of beer and/or smoking a lot of cigarettes would make them less likely to earn the attentions of attractive women in general, because they would be fat, smell like smoke, and have spent all of their money on beer and cigarettes.

So, they're not "Stupid" in that literal sense. They are, for the most part, able to enunciate, albeit in poor English, exactly how they're being manipulated, and how it turns out poorly for them, yet they do it anyway. The busty models were not a direct play on their subconscious desires, but an appeal to a whisper of a dream of something else--an appeal so strong that they were willing to knowingly get screwed just to believe for a little bit. That goes into a whole different metaphysical realm, but back in tangible markets, when acting as consumers, the Stupids still do bite at product image association: they're Good Stupid, or Evil Stupid.

It's easy to manage money for the Good Stupids and the Evil Stupids, and the buying power that comes from extracting all that money enables control of the Good Smarts by the Evil Smarts. Good Smarts occasionally do annoying things like try to avoid the more obvious traps that the Stupids fall into, and at this slightly higher stage of the game, they often enjoy feeling superior to the Stupids, who are buying Budweiser and NFL products. Luckily for the Evil Smarts, there are several variations on the low-level cons that keep Good Smarts just as docile and wasteful. When a really clever Good Smart figures out those ruses, she or he encounters fixed boundaries supported by military force.

Good Smart Tricks - Professionalism

Physicians: spending upwards of a decade tithing elites to be licensed to enter the medical establishment is, generally, exploitation and waste. Exhaustive over-education causes most physicians to know how to match symptom presentations to affliction sets, which results in them being, in many cases, on par with online symptom databases, or even just physician's primer textbooks from decades ago--but with a human touch. Good Stupids and Evil Stupids often get enraged when seeing the doctor, naturally: think of the day laborer who lays brick for 9 hours, earning $70, then waits in a waiting room for 45 minutes, another waiting room for 13 minutes, and spends 2.4 minutes with a doctor to have a rash identified and get a slip of paper that authorizes him to buy a tube of 3 oz. ointment that will cure the rash after a week of nightly applications. The visit costs him $50, the ointment $20, and his mandatory insurance plan pays an additional $360/visit and $50/ointment, which he pays back with a combination of tax redirection and insurance premiums. The physician manages to hang on to an abnormally large wage after sending the bulk of the take from each job to land developers, billing staffers, licensing maintenance, etc., but the physician still does well--sub elite, and often subject to a quarter-half million of pre-loaded licensing debt, but still worlds apart from the brick-layer.

The inherent unfairness and nastiness of such an example is relatively easy for Good Smarts to understand and Evil Smarts to delight in. Good Smarts rationalize that kind of scheme by taking pride in being part of a society filled with well-educated physicians who are, after enough pain and money, available to consumers. A lot of standard education can convince most Good Smarts of the "need" for such protection arrangements around that particular professional cast.

Both Good and Evil Stupids, though, may react with anger, avoiding physicians when not forced to by their own bodies, even to the point of avoiding it when they really should go; Good Stupids often respond to it by deifying physicians as saviors for their ability to identify common symptoms and hand out prescriptions. This provides an easy marketing advantage for sellers of university & physician licenses, who can point to the "respect" of the Good Stupids as a free selling point when trying to pitch the investment to either future physicians or future veterans of military service. Give something back. The Good Stupids will always respect you.

Good Stupids used to feel this starry-eyed way about other people with advanced educations, too, including barristers/attorneys (~100 years ago), accountants (~75 years ago), and professors (~30 years ago). The luster is wearing off for physicians, ergo the necessity for forcing the purchase of prepaid services plans.

The crux of these scenarios is in the ways the market is adapting to screw Good Smarts. The few advantages formerly available to non-elite Good Smarts are being meticulously stamped out by Evil Smart elites, who see the danger that Good Smarts present--namely, that Good Smarts can, by a combination of Smart and Good, start a cascade that results in increasing numbers of Good Smarts until such point as no more Stupids are available to do all the real work.

All of the Stupids, both Good and Evil, are already screwed, unless they were born elite, and all of the non-elite Smarts were born screwed, too. But there was, for a couple centuries, a window of "middle class" where Smarts both Good and Evil could leverage managerial skill and hard work into position so as to acquire a sub-elite window of security--and, at the same time, allow the Good Smarts to invest some of their resources in assisting non-elite Good Stupids and Evil Stupids in both understanding their lot, and receiving the kinds of high quality services usually only reserved for elites.

Physicians play into this in Market Fail, Part 2.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Death of the Faux Resistance ~ Updated

As IOZ and Floyd run away, Stop Me and Vast dwindle, Pied vanishes, and so many others give up entirely, we can take hope in the fact that Arthur's hate-filled assaults on the dusky underclasses will continue to feed middle class theoretical contempt for the poor young blacks and Hispanics who are forced by hunger to do the wet work of empire.

To the internet, valiant heroes! To the internet!

Update

Anonymous was unwilling to leave the firelight of a friendly camp, but responded:
Anonymous said...
...Akra, get lost, you have no even kinda workable answers to anything (vote for Obama, that is your answer, really). Or organizing, I am plenty familiar with where most middle class do gooder organizing leads, it leads with noone having time for it, because at the end of the day noone who works for a living does. And yes, I know it means well. And a revived labor movement, while workable in theory doesn't have that power yet, nor does Occupy (oh since you hate everything except the great holy Obama and your own precious reflection in the mirror, you probably hate the Occupy movement too - go Obama!).

And unlike Floyd, Sibler, and Vast, you don't even have a decent critique, really you just want to troll your betters mostly, people whose contributions will be missed if they stop.

And:
Anonymous said...
Thinking about it some more, it's not just that evil won, although yes that. But how easily does that lead to some "purity" charge (oh your so pure, bet you even oppose presidential murder!).

But it's also everything it means for the direction of this country for however long this direction lasts. I can't say how long that will be. Forces in motion are in motion in that way for awhile until something turns. The U.S. as police state until then. The U.S. as being in it's own private Idaho information bubble until then due to all crackdowns on whistleblowers, the truth will NOT out. The U.S. as an offense to the world militarily but also as sabotager of climate treaties until then. The U.S. as petro state until then, poisoning everyone's local community. The U.S. as having the least welfare state in the developed (and really not just the developed) world until then and getting worse, and nothing else to replace it.

Yea, the election change nothing, it changed really almost nothing (except for a few state propositions which did legitmately make some changes), but other than that everyone was reelected, nothing changed, and yet it confirmed every bleak truth we already knew somehow, by changing nothing, when everything was already so wrong.

And, for posterity, High Arka's response:
What you just saw up there, Vast, was an example of the stagnation of the "internet resistance." If you were all really interested in freedom, justice, humanity, etc., then you wouldn't declare it a slow news day, and stop trying after Obama's reelection wrap-up had finished. You're allowing the same imperial news cycles to control your own critiques as guide the support and/or resignation of stock conservatives and liberals.

Scions have been raised up--Chris Floyd and Arthur Silber, and to a lesser (but funnier!) extent, Vast--and the tribe responds to perceived disagreement with personal insults, misdirected anger, and bad grammar.

While polarizing yourselves as "anti-Empire," and stifling open debate, many people have become what you were supposed to be fighting against, at the beginning of all this.

Suddenly, to criticize Arthur Silber is to "support Obama." Just like criticizing Obama is "supporting Romney," or voting for Nader is "supporting Bush."

Many of these other movements started out like you: they were resisting something genuinely bad, and they actually had ideals. Even American neoconservatives, at some point. But when you start enshrining certain subjects as untouchable--even if you're right about those subjects at that point in time--you lay the groundwork for shifting your own movement into one of censorship, conformity, and sorrow.

The empire is safe. This process--the one you're seeing happen before your eyes, as High Arka is attacked for being "pro Obama" and is censored on Floyd's site and insulted by Arthur because of a failure to toe the line fast enough--is exactly how rebellion becomes assimilated into an even stronger imperial bastion.

This is how it happens. This is what it looks like. If you care about a justice that transcends current incidental politics, don't let the end of your journey be a miasma of recited critiques of what you see as the powers-that-be.

Yes, really--this is how it happens, and this is what it looks like. Each new resistance faces a crucial, dangerous choice, as its ideology solidifies: do we continue the pursuit of discoveries that led us here, or to we rest on our laurels, confident that through what we have learned, we know all there is to know? The dangerous choice leads to co-option; to assimilation.

Understanding the sad outposts of Silber, Floyd, Barack, Mitt, Pol Pot, or any of the other scions of creatively-stillborn movements is interesting, and should be done. More importantly, for the wanderer, is to look upon these examples as lessons of how not to become trapped within a single story, even if it results in more cookies, applause, or self-esteem; to understand so that a slightly more advanced stage of inquiry does not itself, through transcendence of the step that came before, become the conclusion of a journey that has no end. Still more important is being able to return to any step previous, and guide others along.

It is difficult being a small part of the offering to a climber to make the choice of taking the next step, when the current step is so comfortable to occupy. Marketing and trickery are far more effective at wresting people forward a stage or two, but if that is the only way to get someone there, then these stories have no happy endings.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Professional Protection

EM writes, in response to the lovely Dr. Furiosa:
It's not just government subsidies and the Prussian model that's gotten us into the mess.

At base, I think the problem comes down to a credentialing arms race brought about by structural changes in the economy. There are simply not enough jobs - or at least, not enough decent jobs - for all the people that want them.

Once upon a time, you needed to read and write passably to get a good job...but pretty soon, almost everyone could read and write, so you needed a high school diploma...but pretty soon, everyone had a HS diploma, so you needed a bachelor's...but now, everyone has a bachelor's, so you need an advanced degree...pretty soon, everyone has an advanced degree...and now not only are more people credentialed, there also un- and under-employed, and they're in debt.

In this analogy, the universities - both traditional and for-profit - are just the arms dealers. They saw the market demand, and decided they could benefit from meeting the demand. I always kind of feel like in some ways, blaming arms dealers (or drug dealers, or sex workers, or diploma mills, or whatever) kind of misses the point. As these people always like to point out "We meet a demand! We sell what people want! Prohibition doesn't work - if people want it, they'll buy it!"

Maybe people "want" degrees only because they think they need them to get a decent job, but so what? There is a credentials arms race going on, and people beleive (mostly correctly) that they have no choice but to ante up for the next credential to get or keep any job. So they find a dealer to sell them one.

I'm just dubious about how much blaming the "dealers" in a credentials arms race is going to do to change the fundamental problem: there are not enough jobs to go around. Period.

Response succeeds Professional Protection Rackets.

Good point, EM, but go farther with those analogies. The dealers you're talking about all create the situations that result in demand for what they're dealing. They can't be held guiltless for either the situation or their "reaction" to it, anymore than prisoners in inmate-run prisons can be blamed for forming violent racial gangs that collectively punish real or imaginary transgressions. You mentioned arms dealers, drug dealers, sex workers, and diploma mills (universities). Lets call them Arms Dealers, Drug Dealers, Sex Dealers, and Education Dealers.

Each of these Dealers not only creates, but mandates the market in question. The highest tier of Arms Dealers, Drug Dealers, Sex Dealers, and Education Dealers are themselves the superclass of hereditary owners. They own the formal stock in the dealing organizations, and maintain the unwritten contacts that keep them running. They control the fictional entities that establish markets, set prices, crush competition, and permit formal ("legal," recorded) and informal ("illegal," unrecorded) wealth extraction.

Drug & Sex Dealers of the kind you're referring to only exist where elites have used governments to legislate prohibitions and create social shaming to drive prices up in controlled markets. Without a worldwide network of trillions of dollars spent fighting free trade in drugs and sex by crushing unlicensed salesmen and their produce, a private cartel of pharmaceutical and pornographic/escort companies can't force the use of their own expensive-to-produce, socially harmful products, and at the same time, a network of underground dealers cannot control the profits gained by using violence and price-gouging to leech managerial fees away from drugs and physical intimacy that could otherwise be produced and sold incredibly cheaply. Small-scale dealers who don't tithe the system get shut down, shamed, and punished hard, while thugs who tithe the right administration officials run the acknowledged and unacknowledged armies and governments that prohibit market competition.

Arms Dealers, similarly, are the elites who fabricate nations; who condition populaces to violence; who engage in show trials, posturing and media campaigns, and years of groundwork and, who then, finally, direct the production of weapons and the occurrence of wars.

So, back to education. Education Dealers exist only where elites have created the same system of social shaming and police punishment for practitioners who aren't paying up. By accrediting institutions and degreeing individuals, creating an atmosphere of socially mocking people who try to teach, heal, counsel, or otherwise sell interpersonal services without a massive educational license, Dealers ensure--as in all the other market situations--that nothing happens on their turf without their say-so. Conferences, journal subscriptions, continuing education, association memberships...gosh, wouldn't it be terrible if you forgot to drop off your check and something awful and unforeseen happened to your shop? You know we couldn't have you trying to teach grammar to first-graders without that teacher license, or selling birth control pills to impoverished teenagers without four years undergrad, four years med. school, two years residency, a character evaluation by the State board, AMA membership, and proof of regular education in medical office management practices?

Why, dat would just be irresponsible of us, wouldn't it be, Guido?