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2020-05-24 | Subject | The Big Lie

I have been puzzling about our response to c~19 for months, now. One particularly fruitful tree of thought was when I mapped out where things come from, which led to a moment of pronoia, which led to the thing that nobody says. A summary of where I ended up: we have a very large global economy based on an intensely complicated supply chain that keeps us working, and most of it is based on oil. A symbiotic virus could be beneficial to the persistence and advancement of our species.

The conclusion is unacceptable to almost all, and this reveals the big lie. The big lie happens whenever the analysis approaches the topic of human life. First, to ward off misinterpretation: from a mountain climbing perspective, life is an honor. This web we experience, inside and out, the mountain, is rare, and should be cherished. What happens, though, is that preserving that click of life, at the expense of the interconnected web of life, of which humans are just a part of, is horrifyingly bad. Some examples of this would be long term sacrifice of human gatherings for the purposes of art or celebration, or destroying ecosystems for vertebrates.

The big lie is a large part of our culture. Consider movies and television shows. The plot of most of these shows revolves around justice for a single person not being adequate; a person might die because of this, and the entire engine of civilization is brought to bear against the enemy. Some kids are out joy riding in a car, drive off a cliff, and fall down a mine shaft, and a two week effort involving the entire town succeeds in saving the kids from certain death. A more complicated version is a dominating regime hunts down and tries to kill all enemies of the state, and a rogue leader gathers all enemies and they are victorious against the state (or, in the case of Spartacus, are not victorious, but crucified and martyred). Often the big lie is supported by narrow-focus analysis. Only those that aren't in on the human lie will oppose it, for instance, when Spock says "Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh (the needs of the few)." Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Another good example of narrow-focus analysis is the conflict of WWII. The Allies had to devote all of their industrial output to fight the good war. If we didn't, the world would be run by Nazis, is the normal historical analysis. This analysis is narrow, because it doesn't consider that the economic situation of Germany after WWI was arguably a significant cause of nationalism in the first place. Now, don't take this and run off screaming "this article kills Jews" just yet. There is a way to weave this line of thought together that doesn't kill Jews in WWII. Further, I believe that some wars need to be fought, and in 1941, WWII needed to be fought. At the same time, though, we pushed civilization into a much higher complexity of supply chain because of the side-effects of the coordination between government and industry, which President Eisenhower warned about. There is something a bit more subtle than the caution of the military-industrial complex in his farewell speech:

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

And here is the key. He is cautioning that all-out response to crisis must include broader analysis. As a civilization, it makes no sense that one year we are concerned about the pressure of human populations on the ecosystems of the planet, and the next we are willing to sacrifice person-to-person interactions, decimate large numbers of small businesses, and mobilize most medical effort towards the primary goal of resolving c~19.

Modern medicine has been at the center of the big lie for a long time. Yvette and I used to joke that she was the six million dollar woman. Quite likely, between 2002, starting with her hospitalization from pancreatitis, through to her death from an exploding pancreas, brought about by breast cancer spread throughout her body, I secured six million dollars worth of insurance coverage to pay for her medical procedures. At one point, not that far into the battle after her metastasis, her oncologist asked her if she wanted to continue to fight this battle. She took out a picture of Bobo, showed it to her doctor and said, "Yes! This is why!". Ah, and here is where the ideas meet in full color dilemma. Can I deprive my son of his mother for the many years she was alive? This shit just got real.

With c~19, the numbers are multiplied. How much of the global supply chain should we devote and/or destroy to save millions of people? Here is the question that is even more interesting: what if the total numbers are similar, but we are able to process all of these people through medical facilities and funeral homes as we are accustomed to? Is that worth it? There are some iterations of the idea of flattening the curve that are exactly this. The most optimistic iteration is that we stay home, a vaccination is developed, tested, distributed, we inoculate 7 billion people, and the problem is solved with only 500,000 deaths.

But, back to Eisenhower, and his caution about spectacular and costly action: even in the most optimistic iteration, we will still have the same problems with over-population and a civilization relying on oil. Here is the thing, though: as humans we can't address this from this side of the decision that easily. It is harder to consider your wife and son than it is a broader analysis. Likewise, it is difficult to come to any conclusion that leads to the deaths of millions. Dealing with this from this side is difficult, in a way that looking at broader questions about WWII in 1941 is difficult. It may even be that it is immoral to make these kinds of decisions from the leading side, where choices about lives are made.

Let's go back to the big lie idea. There is a similar line of thought with super heroes. One person saves humans from destruction, often brought on by humans themselves. There is an implication that one person can make the difference between a proper, good civilization, and the many ways that a civilization can fail. These two ideas are joined in the television show The Six Million Dollar Man. A single man gets pretty horqued up in a jet accident. The government brings all tech of industrial civilization to bear, and makes a superhero that saves the world again and again. Sometimes superheros are just regular looking people like Clark Kent. In the end, the idea is similar because a single person is worth any amount of homage from industrial civilization, because that person might very well be our savior.

The big lie is the value of any individual human life. The big lie comes from the real dilemmas listed above. Consider the big lie next time you scroll through your news feed or watch a show. Is the focus an all-out effort at any cost to save one person? Is a billionaire playing the role of superhero, pouring all effort into creating a vaccine to save millions of people?

Would I personally do anything different than I did when faced with Yvette's cancer? Would I seriously consider keeping the US out of WWII, if I could make such a choice? What if I could rework the economic punishment of Germany after WWI? Here is the beautiful thing: I don't have to answer that question to make my point or have hope. In the abstract, Eisenhower is cautioning us about the big lie, and nobody would say he didn't think fighting WWII was worthwhile.

Eisenhower talked about balance. He meant this over time, and with the goal "to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations". Who, reading this post, and considering the current global situation, has an idea of how to reach this goal? Yup, nobody. Me included. We may have uncovered a big lie. We may have an idea of what our goal is. We may be unwilling to reconsider micro decisions like fighting cancer, base on macro considerations like the loss of arctic ice from the amount of CO2 emitted from six million dollars worth of medical treatments. But what do we do with this combination of information?

I have three answers, with an easy condition that we consider love in all three. Love, in a way, is a bit of a cheat. Love certainly can lead to paradox, yes, but we all understand the idea of love. It is arguable that love is measurable scientifically. One form of love might be a kind of compassion. This research shows that it is quite possible that as mammals, love is wired into us. I think love is real. I am OK with a wishy-washy definition of love as a guidance in the three answers, but the answer is not love.

Intuitively, I have to say that the overriding answer is the ecological system we are part of will self-correct. If our populations are too stressed living within our planet's ecological system, we will die. If we increase the global temperature 6C over the next 50 years, most of us will die. The big lie will not prevent this. We can make micro decisions all we want, and in the end it won't matter one bit. This isn't particularly satisfying for me. It might be somewhat reassuring that I'm not part of a complete destruction of the planet, the planet will be fine, but the opportunities for love are a bit more like holding the hands of loved-ones while they die. I suppose there is a bit of freedom from the big lie in this, well, besides death itself being a form of freedom. There isn't much that can be done with this, though, from a timeline perspective of individual effort. I will just leave this here, though, as the most significant answer to addressing the big lie.

The second answer comes directly from my son, Bobo. I am fully aware that this is doubly interesting because Bobo would not be the person he is without the nurturing of his mother, Yvette, the experience of her death, the guidance and nurturing of Sean, as well as my own efforts, all of this wrapped up in many layers of the current big lie.

I was sitting outside of the orthodontist office using current c~19 procedures where we would text that we were there and the office would text when a chair was ready. I am spending thousands of dollars to shift Bobo's teeth, not to mention all of the trips in Kalis, time off of work, etc. Bobo said, that, yes, of course, we couldn't accept the loss of life by a do-nothing approach; however, the systemic issues would be resolved at a future time with better insight, and would be motivated by the very same systemic issues. Specifically, he was aware that our global economic model was not sound; however, he felt that the crisis we were unfolding in our response to c~19 would lead to a better world. It was the nature of civilizations responding to crisis, to end up in cycles of response and learned knowledge that pushed humans forward to a better place and different economic models. He didn't know it, but this is not that far off from the logic of my ouroboros ideas. He is stressing the sociological and political in the socio-economic-ecological combination, but certainly this is another answer: we will react to the results of our decisions and make more informed decisions at the time of crisis, eventually. We will learn what worked in command economies, and what didn't. What lessons have we learned from Pol Pot? What lessons have we learned from Hank Rearden, to use a fictionalized version. Certainly in two years we will have much better data on how our current reaction to c~19 plays out.

The third answer is Jesus, at least my own interpretation of his Sermon on the Mount (or Plain). Anybody who knows me well knows that I have a complicated religious perspective. Jesus spoke to me once, and only once. I see many relations to how my life and interests have unfolded from this experience. Further, like dreams, the weave with ouroboros is clear to me, now, in ways I couldn't have predicted. Most importantly, though, I think the answer is described completely in Standing in the Way of Control. This might be a tag-on to the second answer. Perhaps we stand in the way of control?


2020-05-25 :

I watched The Flight of the Phoenix this evening. I have been waiting to see this for years. It was one of my favorites as a kid, and I never got around to seeing it again. I got quite a bit out of the movie that I missed before. Certainly the issues of The Big Lie come up in the movie as well. And, likely anybody in the situation would find it difficult, perhaps immoral, to consider all of The Big Lie aspects. The man whose leg was crushed, for instance, could he have made the difference between having enough water or not? Who gets to make that decision?

2020-05-25 :

Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to call this article The Big Taboo. A lie means somebody is purposefully being deceiptful, usually. It is probably more of a cultural thing, a taboo about analysis from the choice side, the leading side.

ouroboros kalis c~19 supply_chain jesus mountain_climbing yvette sean bobo

Articles tagged with ouroboros on Luv Counter XYZ:

2021-09-12: Bus Ride
2020-12-13: Ummm... Why?
2020-11-29: Taking Stock
2020-08-26: Home
2020-08-23: Global Virus Reach

Articles tagged with ouroboros on O.R.N.G.:

2019-08-07: Knowledge
2019-08-03: Bits of Tree
2019-06-27: Straight Down the Line
2019-05-19: Triple Tree
2019-05-18: Honeycomb Start
2019-05-11: Ouroboros Tree
2018-08-12: Data
2018-07-10: Woman Emerging from Manhole
2018-03-07: Braid of Life
2018-01-11: Train Circle
2017-11-05: Wu-Tang Clan
2017-10-23: proust
2017-10-13: Fire and Data
2017-10-11: risk of frameworks
2017-08-06: Finger Divine
2017-06-25: 1279 BC
2014-05-15: Circle
2010-11-02: Do you see?
2006-08-03: Information Markup

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2020-01-31: Backwards Down Hill

Articles tagged with kalis on O.R.N.G.:

2017-01-21: Wandering
1999-08-15: You are not Wrong: It Doesn't Work

Articles tagged with jesus on Aggie Codrust:

2020-04-13: Is it Worth it?
2019-10-03: Standing in the Way of Control

Articles tagged with jesus on O.R.N.G.:

2019-04-09: Wake up like Ezekiel
2014-04-20: Resurrection
1986-06-06: Give a Man a Coat

Articles tagged with mountain_climbing on Luv Counter XYZ:

2020-10-24: Base Camp
2020-09-23: Climbing

Articles tagged with mountain_climbing on O.R.N.G.:

2019-05-18: But an Instant
2018-11-10: Interim Sun
2018-10-15: The Old Mountain Climbing Metaphor
2018-06-24: DataOps
2017-08-31: Wumblebright Wagon
2014-09-22: Divine Web
2013-05-09: The Pursuit of The Good
2010-06-06: MCJ Books
2010-06-05: Interesting Climbing Reference
2010-05-24: Jacob's Ladder and Hacking the Circuitry
2008-05-28: Mountain Climbing Metaphor - May Revisit
1986-09-30: Mountain Climbing Metaphor - Climbing
1986-06-18: World Peace Flier

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2020-01-19: Two Trips
2019-11-27: Source of Anger

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2020-08-26: Home

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2019-07-20: Bricklan
2019-04-22: Four People
2019-04-10: Floppy
2019-02-14: Fish Sticks
2018-11-10: Interim Sun
2018-10-20: What is O.R.N.G.?
2018-07-27: Toy Rambler
2018-07-21: Gathering Journal Items
2018-07-19: Bob and Connie
2018-07-10: Incredibles
2018-06-30: Basement Punish
2017-12-23: Orion
2017-12-20: Chili
2017-11-29: so_what
2017-11-14: cycles_of_trees
2017-09-08: With or Without Me
2017-08-12: Walking, House, Chairs
2017-01-14: The Mud That Caused Thy Fall
2016-12-24: Early Pies
2016-12-03: Happy in Her Outfit
2016-11-24: Back of the Train
2015-06-25: Honey Badger Cat
2015-03-18: hand-in-hand
2014-12-19: White Album Letter to Sean
2014-12-17: Back and Forth Emails
2014-11-12: medusa
2014-10-30: Back in
2014-10-29: sculpture fire
2014-10-25: What Bobo Read at Funeral
2014-10-24: Horse and Crow
2014-10-20: yugurt ramp
2014-10-12: cat time
2014-10-11: Yvette's Memorial
2014-10-06: Yvette, Bobo, and Memorial
2014-10-06: Wash of love and asdf
2014-09-22: Divine Web
2014-09-22: Who To Write To
2014-09-20: No More Treatments
2014-09-18: Ramp
2014-08-22: pancreas
2014-07-30: Not as strong
2014-03-30: Bobo Hug
2013-05-06: Time Flash
2013-05-04: Throwing Good Money After Bad
2013-04-21: Red Tiny House
2013-03-16: Wrong Eric
2013-02-05: NT 4 Boot and Good Times
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2012-06-07: Missed Birthday
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2012-03-23: Found RedNotebook
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2012-01-15: Colored Seaweed
2012-01-05: Bus Doesn't Pick Up There
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2011-08-28: Lost in Charlie's Clothes
2011-03-01: 2nd day of work at New Job
2010-12-04: Ice Ship
2010-10-26: My Corner
2010-10-12: Anniversary Truck Colors
2010-10-04: Rhett Bourbon
2010-10-03: Sigg Doorways
2010-10-02: Crow Flying and Yellow Truck
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2010-08-30: Bobo Nightmares and Sleepovers
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2010-07-02: I told you so!
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2010-05-20: Good Day
2010-04-30: Stirring Sugar
2010-04-29: A Normal Day
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2010-03-31: Doing Much Better Scott
2010-03-18: Goth Woman Advice
2010-03-17: Carved Scorecard and Hotdogs
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2009-07-31: Bobo Nightmares and Peaceful Visions
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2009-06-27: An Innocent Computer Move - Saturday
2009-06-26: An Innocent Computer Move - Friday
2009-04-19: Completing the Call Dream
2009-01-02: Shepherd's Pie
2008-11-23: Rustc Credentials Dream
2008-08-09: Old House and Fire Pit Dream
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2008-02-12: Dead Rabbit Vision
2007-09-13: Goodbye Romeo
2007-05-16: Nana's Funeral
2006-12-31: Shed Cleanup
2006-08-16: Tuna Fish Sandwich with Nana
2006-03-28: Car Pit Dream
2005-09-15: Cowboy Coffee
2004-07-31: Purchasing Our Rambler
2002-08-09: 8048 Puzzle Box
2000-05-29: Adding Swap Space on the Fly in Linux
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1994-12-15: Laundro Mat on Cherry
1994-02-14: Crowley's Confessions
1993-02-14: Plans for Life After Graduation/Property
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1993-02-01: Information Underground
1993-02-01: Mesa, Mountain, Clearing
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1992-05-15: The Reuben Sandwich Period: 1992-1994
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1990-01-19: Interview with writer Yvette Demetz, January, 1990
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1986-11-20: Moped Rides to the French Quarter
1986-10-10: First Night Yvette
1986-10-03: Had it in the Ear Before
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1986-05-30: The Hawg Burger Period: 1986-1992
1976-04-02: Recess Hiding

Articles tagged with sean on Luv Counter XYZ:

2020-12-13: Ummm... Why?
2020-09-18: Da Plans
2020-08-26: Home

Articles tagged with sean on O.R.N.G.:

2019-02-19: Who'll Stop the Rain?
2019-02-14: Fish Sticks
2018-11-10: Interim Sun
2018-10-20: What is O.R.N.G.?
2018-10-13: Where Do We Stop?
2018-09-18: Mr. Lucky's
2018-07-21: Gathering Journal Items
2018-06-30: Basement Punish
2018-06-21: Cookie Crush
2018-06-16: Outraged Southern Grandma
2018-06-15: Best Two Beers
2018-06-09: Red Rope
2018-06-02: Kantors
2018-06-02: Two Layers Down
2018-05-12: Knee Bubble
2018-03-03: Her Smile
2017-11-19: face_words
2017-11-09: dragon_and_rose
2017-07-16: Knight and Maiden
2017-05-28: Interesting
2017-05-24: Luscious
2017-02-22: ignition switch
2016-02-28: three legged goat
2016-02-04: Sean's Dad's Grave
2015-08-06: Boxes of Beads
2015-07-23: Dental Gulag
2015-04-06: Big Ford and Torn Fences
2015-03-19: Sean's Arms
2015-03-18: hand-in-hand
2014-12-19: White Album Letter to Sean
2014-12-17: Back and Forth Emails
2009-10-19: Yay Pick Sweep!
1980-10-31: Musical Chairs
1979-10-13: The Beatles and the Annex

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2020-03-02: Bene Gesserit
2019-12-30: Attorney
2019-11-27: Source of Anger
2019-10-19: Leaving Las Vegas and Song
2019-09-09: Elton John Again

Articles tagged with bobo on O.R.N.G.:

2019-05-19: Bobo and Coffee
2019-04-12: Bobo Alum
2019-02-14: Fish Sticks
2018-12-10: Bobo Pies
2018-10-20: What is O.R.N.G.?
2018-07-27: Toy Rambler
2018-06-24: DataOps
2018-06-21: Cookie Crush
2018-06-16: Outraged Southern Grandma
2018-06-15: Best Two Beers
2017-09-09: Own Mind
2017-06-17: Magic
2017-06-05: No Man's Land
2017-03-08: Turtle Soup
2017-01-24: slow dance
2017-01-08: card tournament
2015-10-16: Thanks, I guess
2015-09-27: Diamond Hoe
2015-05-20: I feel happy
2015-05-19: Wild Horses
2014-12-04: Bobo's Dream Loch Ness
2014-10-25: What Bobo Read at Funeral
2014-03-30: Bobo Hug
2013-03-13: Rebuilding Grandpa's Chainsaw - Revisit
2012-09-24: Vacation and Crying
2012-03-22: No Compromise
2011-11-01: Rebuilding Grandpa's Chainsaw - Part 4
2011-10-31: Rebuilding Grandpa's Chainsaw - Part 3
2011-10-30: Rebuilding Grandpa's Chainsaw - Part 2
2011-10-29: Rebuilding Grandpa's Chainsaw - Part 1
2011-08-01: Out and In Burger
2010-08-30: Bobo Nightmares and Sleepovers
2010-08-30: Imagining Without Wine
2010-03-17: Carved Scorecard and Hotdogs
2010-03-08: Trout Sauce
2010-03-02: Time and Climbing
2010-01-25: The Terminator Kitty is Not your Friend
2009-09-22: Google That for Me
2009-09-21: Three Minds and IT Rootball
2009-09-18: Steep Mountain
2009-07-31: Bobo Nightmares and Peaceful Visions
2009-07-31: Hands and Lemon Sun
2009-03-16: Creature Create
2009-01-02: Shepherd's Pie
2008-08-09: Old House and Fire Pit Dream
2008-05-31: MCJ Road Trip
2008-04-22: Hot Rods, Earth Day, Nash Ramblers, and Timothy Leary
2008-04-04: Bobo's TV Device
2007-03-06: Bobo Dream Safeway and Robots
2006-12-31: Shed Cleanup
2006-04-20: No more school for Bobo
2006-04-13: The Cost of Eating Pandas
2006-04-06: Bobo's First day of School
2006-03-28: Car Pit Dream
2006-03-25: Big Boy Bed Lessons
2006-03-05: Engine All Installed
2006-02-17: Ugliest Dinner Ever!
2006-02-08: Cabbage and Pork
2006-01-19: Goldfish Diversion
2006-01-16: Whole Wheat Kids Cookies
2005-11-16: Tofu and Hamburger Meatloaf
2005-09-15: Cowboy Coffee
2005-09-05: Project Gutenberg - Surprising Stories
1996-03-27: Jumanji
1976-04-02: Recess Hiding