Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Corona Blog

So, I’m a blogger, so I guess I should do this. It’s about change, about lots of changes through history and what that means to us now. I might seem a bit annoyed. If you want to get a teenager to read this, preferably one who doesn’t want to, they might get the proper tone of voice for it.

Everybody is talking about change. Of course we will change. Hasn’t every President run on that platform for the last 50 years? Make America Whatever or Hopey Changey, I don’t care. Throw the bums out. That’s a desire for change. But there is always tension, against the fear. Too much rapid change to greater rights for more people and a move toward socialism resulted in populism, on the left and the right. I have watched the constant battle between the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and the good old traditions since I was born in 1960. Look at what’s happened in the last 100 years since the 1918 flu pandemic. That’s in your parents’ or grandparents’ lifetime if you are older, so hopefully you talked to them. If you are younger, hopefully you know someone in the next generation up. They might have an old recording or at least some pictures.

They went through:
Nuclear weapons
Invention of vaccines
1918 flu
World War I (1914 to 1918)

Despite the pace of change having increased in the recent centuries, we haven’t developed new ways to cope with it. I don’t have much to suggest for that, but for me, getting some perspective on how much has happened, how far we have come in a short time, and how it has always been the people pushing leaders to change. That has helped me understand it.

My Public Education history spent too much on the days before the Revolution in this country, that’s my opinion. I always wanted to get to the World Wars and why those happened.

It was a major change in how the world worked. Before then, we were a world of royal families. Generals road on horses with colorful uniforms and battles lasted for a few days. With the arms buildup of the late 19th century, a result of the industrial revolution, these in-bred idiots who had no idea how to live in a time of electronic communication and world travel, put a match to the powder keg they built. To defend against heavy artillery, they created trench warfare, to breakthrough that they invented tanks, and on and on.

If you don’t want to have a love for history, don’t click here. Dan Carlin has a great ability to tell the story and provide the facts. His “Blueprint for Armaggedon” series is the story of WWI. 

Going back through the 19th century further you had:
The Industrial Revolution, steam engines, mechanics, oil. Horses were no longer the best source of power, but we still use the term “horsepower”.
Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859.
Michael Faraday, who died in 1867, advanced our understanding of electromagnetism. That’s kind of important to whatever device you are reading this on.

Pause for a moment on this guy. He discovered the mysterious energy floating around that we could use to move things and to communicate across miles. Click to see David Tong giving a lecture in the same hall where Faraday gave his. Tong is talking about the newly understood forces of quantum physics, that we now understand are the fundamental forces behind all things. He’s giving that lecture in the same hall, with the same desk, that Faraday did. It’s like we just figured out stone tools yesterday, and now we all have scalpels in our medicine cabinets. 

While Faraday was alive, we were finally throwing off the last myths about race and changing laws so we could no longer justify slavery. There are still slaves in the world, I know, but most people know that’s wrong now. What will be commonly thought of as wrong by end of your lifetime?

Change takes a little longer in the centuries before that, but let me connect just a few more things. Once the empires that grew out of ancient history started bumping into each other and “discovering” each other, we started accumulating our knowledge, sharing it actually, but not always in a nice way. You might have heard of Thomas Aquinas, who tried to reconcile the Catholic religion with Greek philosophy. He had a little help from the Muslims by the way. Not too long after that, we had Protestant kingdoms, so there was a lot of fighting with the Catholics.

At the end of all that fighting, after the Thirty Years War, 1648, a treaty was signed called the Peace at Westphalia. It took away powers from the Pope and created a new type of nation. That’s what you live in, a Westphalian nation-state. Sure, your way of life is rooted in a Judeo-Christian/Western Civilization/Constitutional Republic/Democracy/melting pot, sure. But the basic structure of our politics has only been around for 400 years, and it was formed under duress, and it’s not working. A bunch of morons from the Middle Ages made it up to get the Pope out their business and we can get the billionaires out of our pockets if we create the next system.

Something else happened once the European Princes and Bishops quit making us kill each other. It was the British Royal Society, founded in 1660 to promote scientific thought and learning. It was the fertile ground where Isaac Newton flourished. Newton created the mathematics that got us to the moon (along with some of those other folks above). Computers were first put to the test during that work. That pretty much brings us up to where we are now.

To have that sort of creative energy, to allow the brilliant people of the day to discover something, you have to first have some degree of peace. You have to have a little extra left over at the end of the day to give to the general welfare, to build some roads, to have some nurses ready to take care of us instead of working overtime to pay off student loans and a mortgage from that house they bought before the bankers destroyed the economy.

What gets left out of historical discussions like this is none of it happens if we don’t care about people that we will never meet; people on the other side of the world and people who are not born yet. If we aren’t keeping the world clean and free from violence and filled with beauty, if we aren’t nurturing the people who grow our food, or who are sitting in a room somewhere coming up with formulas that who knows what they will do, but we can bet they will do something, then none of this happens. Then we slip back into using those stone tools to harm each other and take whatever we can just because we can. None of this happens if we don’t realize we need each other.

A note on the present: We aren’t purposely crashing the economy by shutting it down, just so we can save a few million lives. The economy would have crashed if we didn’t do anything because the hospitals would have been overrun. People would have chosen to quit interacting with others after it was far too late. Services would be much more disrupted because the closures would be random; we wouldn’t be choosing to keep groceries open as opposed to restaurants, we would be choosing from far fewer options.

It would not be some simple math of 2 or 3% more people dead. We would be surrounded by sick people and no one would want to touch them for fear of getting sick themselves. This would multiply the problems. Any normal illness or regular medical attention needed would be almost impossible. We would have new priorities, like disposing of the bodies.

The stock market selloff was recognition by those who understand how their system works, that it is not working, that it is not designed to respond to a problem like this. It is not designed to take care of the people that actually create the wealth that they accumulated. Ironically, it created the problem by changing the environment, putting workers under stress, and prioritizing profits over health. It put messaging over science. They know this, they saw it coming. They didn’t tell us until they cashed out. But cashing out is a strategy of the dying system. I don’t know what the next system will be, but it won’t be the current leaders who create it.