Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Thinking Aloud

with 5 comments


“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness.”    – Emo Philips

Another week jetted by, another dozen half-formed blog posts in my head. I’ve been told there’s a lot of half-formed stuff in my head before, but that’s better than what’s in so many people’s heads I suppose. Maybe it’s unfair, but a lot of people seem to be just a collection of habits they have picked up from  friends and family as a youth, and opinions they get from the media.  Not a whole lot of introspection or critical analysis going on. And this has little or nothing to do with intelligence, age, nationality, religion, gender, etc. I’m not the first to notice this, the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers maintained that most men went through life in a “waking dream.” At least I think I’m talking about the same thing.

Which leads to todays’ random line of thought, the idea of control. I think most people, especially in positions of power, think they have more control  over their surroundings than they do. An analogy I would make is to compare a head of state to an aeroplane pilot. Yes, an aeroplane pilot has complete control of his aircraft, and by extension to the passengers and crew of the plane. He can take them anywhere he wants, he can even end their lives if he wants. However, ands it’s a big however, this control is based on a whole host of complicated devices and machines working together in good order.  A wing falls off the plane and the pilot’s control of the situation drops to zero pretty much instantaneously.

By the same token a head of state is like our doomed pilot, he may enjoy absolute power and complete control, but it is all enabled by social structures vastly more complicated and less understood than an aeroplane. Like our pilot, as long as things are going well, lots of control. But when things go wrong, control may be lost in an instant. And the pilot/President may not even know it. This is  why I think President Obama’s situation is pretty hopeless. In terms of the economy because no one really understands how economies work, but there’s no doubt that the world economy is seriously seriously broken. And it doesn’t matter what the people in charge do, the situation has gotten way too far out of our usual habits for the usual answers to work. And no one even knows if there even are answers that will work.

In terms of defence/foreign policy the USA (and Israel) are both screwed because we made one of the biggest classic military blunders of all. As Frederick II put it: “He who defends everything defends nothing.” There’s no such thing as complete security, and trying to attain that goal we have extended ourselves way beyond our reach and eroded our security in countless ways. Israel by walling themselves of from their neighbours and being at constant war with them, the USA by building a breathtaking world wide  military empire. In fact the America military is so over-extended in any classical sense that we risk disaster on an unprecedented scale in American history. There are perfectly plausible scenarios that will result in the loss of either or both our far flung expeditionary forces.

In any event world events are unfolding at a rapid pace now.  And at least I’m not the only one making dire predictions. The flurry of events makes it hard to keep blog posts current though. Speaking of which, I am in the process of writing the CEO psychopath post, and the mutant chicken post. I apologize for the delay, it’s been a hard week here, one of my cats is on her deathlap so to speak, so I’ve not had the spirit to write.

I hope everyone had a great weekend.

(The above image is of German soldiers tat surrenered at Stalingrad. Of the 91,000 Germans captured at Stalingrad, only about 5,000 ever returned home. Most died in Soviet labour camps. If you’d told any of these fellows in 1939 that three years later they would be surrendering to almost certain  death at the hands of the Russians in a city more than a thousand miles from Berlin, they would have told you you were nuts. The quote, well, it made me smile. Lastly, the used to call the 1873 depression, which lasted for 5-25 years, the “Great Depression.” After the 1930s depression they started calling that one the “Long Depression” to keep them straight. Now what are we going to do? My suggestion: We’ll call this one the “Long Great  Depression.”)


Written by unitedcats

February 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I like the “waking dream” analogy and have become fascinated by the phenomena. I think it’s in part a by product of comfort/laziness, in our generation that would apply to many Americans amongst others. When the public are relatively comfortable they seem to lose the desire to think upon current events, philosophies, ideology or the state of the world around them, but rather occupy their mind with thoughts of the mundane (not that their is anything wrong with the mundane, but everything in moderation).

    Whats interesting about this principle is it has nothing to do with intellect or education but solely desire and will. Anyone can think, discuss, read or write open-mindedly about the world around them. The level at which they communicate depends on their intellect and education but these factors do not prohibit their ability to evaluate, many simply chose not to.

    I have found the vast majority of people I meet either have no concept of the world around them outside of their own little place in it, or on the flip side they are only interested in events and ideas as a means to validate their opinions and beliefs (often not actually theirs but what they heard on the radio or read on yahoo), rather than analyze a situation unbiasedly and objectively.

    Don’t know the solution, although maybe as the economic situation worsens more people will be compelled to analyze reality beyond their ipods and flat screens. I do think the “waking dream” phenomenon is a defining part of modern civilization and would make an excellent blog topic on its own.

    I would like to conclude my ramblings with the following…Mutant Chickens…that is all.

    Josh V.

    February 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm

  2. You’re behind: it’s already called “The Great Recession”.

    Tess Tosterone

    June 28, 2009 at 6:53 pm

  3. Sorry, but I do not think the photo is of Stalingrad. The dead German in the foreground is wearing an SS helmet. There were no Waffen-SS units involved in the Battle of Stalingrad. Also the photo appears to be of a wooded area, not inside a city.


    July 19, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  4. Well, I stand corrected. The photo must have been misidentified on the site I got it from. The woods, meh, there was fighting outside the city. The SS guy, yeah, that’s a pretty bad sign. The picture was replaced by another got from this Soviet archival site, hopefully it’s the real deal. Thanks. —Doug

    Stalingrad Battlefield Information


    July 19, 2009 at 7:08 pm

  5. […] For my part I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone that worked to make the Moon landings a reality. It’s a great thing that humans can come together and accomplish difficult and dangerous feats that don’t involve trying to think of ways to blow people up. Granted it was driven by a desire to “beat” the Russians, but in part or in whole I am sure that the people who made Apollo a reality were driven by higher motives than just to show the Russians who was best. If I ever get a chance to congratulate any of them in person, I will, but for now this post will have to do. Good work people! I almost said “good work guys” but I think it’s safe to say that there were women in the Apollo program. I hope so at least, if some reader wants to correct me, well, it happens frequently. […]

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