Extreme Weather

DC winter stormWashington (D.C.) is the expected epicenter of an approaching patch of extreme weather, an historic storm that is, in large part, due to the damage our modern society has done to the environment. And utterly without irony, there’s going to be a big snow storm there, too.

The crazy weather does seem suited to the craziness going on in politics. As with climate change due to the increase of CO2, the flow of other pollutants into public discourse has changed the social environment.

The Earth’s weather is getting chaotic, and so is its politics.

Recently I heard about research attributing the high degree of polarization today to the interweb and its ability — the infamous “internet bubble” — to isolate us in an echo chamber of our already held views.

It’s not that the interweb causes polarization — we’ve always been pretty good at it — but it seems maybe the interweb can really accelerate the process. It does seem the political environment has become extremely polarized (emphasis on extreme) lately.

How many times have I quoted it: Evil doesn’t question itself.

dark and stormyOur social weather has become something of, as writers should never put it, “a dark and stormy night” (as opposed to the stormy nights that aren’t dark). The floods, tornadoes, and blizzards (oh, my) outside seem reflective of the political chaos appearing on the campaign trail.

Did you hear?! Donnie Boy said “two Corinthians” about the Bible, and Feel the Bernie said “establishment” about Hillary! Cruz is a Canadian (and apparently one of the only mean ones in existence). And there are a bunch of pilot fish swimming around the GOP shark.

What does it say about our politics that we have:

On the one side, a 68-year-0ld presumptive nominee who is well-liked (but widely hated) and who comes with much baggage. We also have a 74-year-old socialist who does a lot of excited yelling, and some young guy (he’s only 53, a babe) tagging along after them on a practice candidacy.

Alaskan crazy

They make Donnie Boy look sane by standing him next to this wing-nut!

On the other side an enigma wrapped in a large brick, a pair of right wing-nuts (one of whom is not a natural-born citizen), and those little pilot fish hoping for scraps.

Or that the shark somehow magically dies (perhaps due to the dreaded Alaskan Incoherent Babbling disease it seems to have contracted recently).

There is a fundamental equation in how the success of a candidate for office correlates with the degree to which they acknowledge and reflect the perceived reality of their constituency. This is why Trump is so successful and Jeb! is not. It’s why Cruz and Rubio get any traction at all.

But this means candidates are followers, not leaders. We vote for the person who least challenges us, who most espouses (whether truly believed or not) our own views. We do we vote for those who follow us rather than show they can lead us?

Sadly, Trump does lead, but in what appears to be an awful direction. It may be wise to remember that what candidates say on the trail usually has little connection with what they do when elected. Whatever else he is, Donnie Boy is no conservative.

congress snow

The hell with governing! Let’s go sledding instead!

It is not lost on me; the irony of writing a post that likely will be lost in the internet sea. And, of course, those who already agree will continue to do so while who don’t won’t. We rarely question our own views.

I suppose, ultimately, it’s just my rant, and maybe its only value is personal and in the expression, the getting it off the chest. (Or maybe old men just gotta yell at clouds.)

But I can’t help but feel that Rome is burning all around us while a self-entitled vox populi of Neros fiddle mindlessly with Twitter and YouTube and Facebook and all the other distractions of modern life. The inability of (seemingly) anyone to focus on substance amazes and depresses me.

white house snow

It takes heavy machinery to shovel all the… whaddya call it… four-letter word, starts with ‘S’… oh, right: snow!

I laughed at all the fear about the Millennium Bug (remember that?). I had friends that were stocking up on food, water, and guns, but I just laughed.

I laughed at all the fear about Ebola (remember that?). People thought we were all going to die horribly. They announced recently it’s been eradicated in parts of Africa, and it never was a problem here. I didn’t laugh (’cause people were dying), but I wasn’t concerned about Ebola any more than I was the Y2K thing.

But I’m not laughing now.

Or rather, I am, but it’s because I’ve stopped caring.

It’s just this weird Unreality Show that runs 24×7 on multiple networks at once. The main plot beats are repeated and discussed endlessly each day, so you never miss anything.

It would be a lot of fun if not for the whole “it’s our future” aspect.

white house snow 2

“The current weather will have a chilling effect on politics…”

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

8 responses to “Extreme Weather

  • dianasschwenk

    Don’t give up Smitty. Sometimes, most times, things just gotta run amok, hit rock bottom before people see the light and demand change…it is always darkest before the dawn. ❤
    Diana xo

    On another note you have to keep Cruz!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oh, no! He’s your native-born citizen! o_O

      It’s true about rock bottom; in fact, it’s a key tenant in AA and similar. We don’t change until we run out of options. The pity is the amount of damage often caused in the meantime.

      (BTW: Condolences regarding the school shooting in Saskatchewan. Even in Canada, it appears.)

  • Lisa Smestad

    I think you should read the book Black Money, which is about how the Koch brothers have been working for 30 years to change the political spectrum, now this scares the crap out of me. They formed a club of billionaires working the long game. Finally Trump as a candidate makes sense. Also when watching the news I’ve been paying attention to the images – Trump is shown as smiling as a talking head, Bernie and Hillary were being shown with frowning and extremely unflattering expressions. Subtle, but real.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      One thing about money in politics: Jeb! has out-spent all other candidates by a huge margin, and he continues to sink in the polls. At one point, like Hillary, he was the presumed nominee! And this isn’t the first time by any stretch that the Kock brothers have poured money into a campaign… to no avail.

      I think we still haven’t appreciated what a game changer the interweb is. I think it may be loosening the hold money had in politics. The thing about money in the past was that it allowed you to control the message (or at least influence it). When information comes from a narrow set of sources, it’s possible to try to influence, overwhelm, or even usurp, those sources.

      The interweb breaks that monopoly of information. OTOH, it’s possible it also contributes to the speed and depth of polarization. The interweb bubble “echo chamber” allows fringe beliefs previously diluted geographically to congregate virtually, re-enforce their held beliefs (really bad when the groupthink kicks in), and to shield themselves from outside beliefs.

      The result is this fucked up horror show we’re stuck in now.

      And there is this about the Kock brothers… they aren’t, as I understand it, ideologues, at least not on the right. They’re Libertarians who want Libertarian freedoms in business (for instance, lack of costly regulation). They align with the GOP on the small government aspect, but not necessarily on conservative values. AIUI, the Kock brothers aren’t opposed to gay marriage, drug legalization, or abortion, for example.

      I have strong personal Libertarian values, but I don’t favor those values in business (which I believe needs to consider the collective interests of society as well as the future). In some regards, when it comes to business, I lean socialist. So I’m a little conflicted about the Kock brothers. I see them as on the right side (generally) on personal values, but the wrong side on business values.

      Very confusing. 🙂

      I don’t know that I think Trump is a plot in that regard, but it might be wise to reserve judgement. If he does get elected (a possibility that seems to become more possible daily, although polls supposedly show he has horrible numbers with the general electorate), it will be very interesting to see what kind of a presidency he foments. (I’m tempted to vote for him just to find out! 🙂 )

      Interesting point about the images! I’ve always wondered about the thinking that goes into their selection. I’m damn sure The Daily Show picks images with a specific eye to effect. I have to believe there is some selection bias going on with everyone, even if they try to avoid it.

      Just to play skeptic, it’s possible there’s a statistical effect here. Does Trump smile more in general than Hillary or Sanders? Is it possible a random selection turns up more smiles in Trump images than in others? Even the more generally positive approach of the Democrats has a full measure of doom and gloom (about those other guys, not us, of course).

      Still, it does feels sometimes like CNN and MSNBC (especially the latter) are almost pushing Trump. I can’t tell if they’re just fascinated, trying to over-saturate us so we get tired of him, can’t understand why the more they show him the more we like him, or if there is something else going on.

      It’s a damned strange ride, is all I can really say!

  • Sirius Bizinus

    This political race has made me extra cynical. None of the candidates represent something that even resembles a workable solution for fixing our government. To me, the real races people should focus on are in Congress.

    Where I live (Alabama), every political candidate talks about Obama as if he was the devil incarnate. It’s like Obama’s running against them, and the only way to save yourself is to vote for the legislative candidate. Not only are these Congressional candidates; they are also candidates for the State legislature.

    Our legislators are followers in all the worst ways. They only have to react to extreme public outcry, and even then it’s just to tell people what they want to hear. Actually promoting an agenda is a giant risk, because taking a stand invites attack from everyone else.

    On a completely unrelated note, check out this post. I knew I got the idea of floating cities on Venus from somewhere, but it turns out that I forgot what you mentioned a while back. This might one day be a thing.

    Provided, you know, we get past this Trump nonsense.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      A good point about local and congressional races; I quite agree.

      Fox News is the same way about President Obama. I mean, I’m not thrilled with the guy on several levels, but they never miss an opportunity to throw a dig his way (often inventing them as they go along). At this point, what’s the point of that? It’s like they still just can’t get over how we elected a black man as president; they just can’t seem to let that go.

      “Actually promoting an agenda is a giant risk,”

      As you say, just promoting one invites attack, and the risk of what happens if it turns out to be a bad idea is even worse. It’s the corporate manager syndrome amplified by the political amplifier (which is usually set to 11). Politics has been nasty and divisive before, but I’ve heard history experts opine that it’s never been quite this bad. The interweb seems to be a polarization amplifier (also set to 11).

      “On a completely unrelated note,…”

      Ha, yeah! I remember we talked about a large space displacing volume, working the same way ships do (cause metal obviously don’t float 🙂 ). Something like that might be interesting on Jupiter or Saturn, too, although interesting point about the consequences of a leak!

      Which somehow makes me think of Robert L. Forward’s book, Saturn Rukh. I highly recommend Forward to anyone writing hard SF. The guy is a physicist, and his books are great yarns as well as diamond-hard SF.

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