One Boiled Frog

it's getting warm out there.

A story remains true so long as it works for all of its participants, and isn’t effectively challenged by non-participants. The stories of Native Americans held for thousands of years because it worked up until Western civilization actively suppressed and wiped out the full adoption of these stories, undermining Native American stories until they were fictions rather than realities. Now, our global culture has been attempting a reconciliation of a single story: That, despite the naysayers’ thoughts, all human action has been leading up to this moment, and that there is only one way to live. Because there is only one way to live, we are transforming our culture, our government, and ourselves to maximize one’s access to this single way to live: Free from the constraints of Nature, dependent on a global economic system.

This story rang true for civilizational peoples around the world for more than two thousand years. This is why China’s story focuses on the uniting of all its people under one flag. This is why America’s story focuses on uniting all of its people under one flag. This is why the European Union prides itself on uniting all of its people under one organization: The unite more people under one story. With globalization, we are attempting to undermine the stories of nations in order to enact a narrative that applies to all people under the sun. The “citizen of the world” appeals to the story that borders don’t matter anymore. What matters is the assumption that makes all these nations exist because of a greater idea: That there is only one way to live, and that is globally, without the constraints of Nature, and dependent on a global economic system.

The participants of our global story have been trying for decades to reconcile the distant qualities of a “global community” with the traditionally local one. A portmanteau was invented: “glocalization”, or the ability to still have local community in a global economic system. The challenge of the “world citizen” and the “glocalized” community is that they assume that this story truly works for every single person in the world. Unfortunately, I believe that the story of globalization has been a repeated failure that turns people into “human capital”, hides waste in poorer nations, and demands obligations beyond the scope a single person or community can handle. In other words, I believe that globalization is not conducive to a healthy community because it can only work based on the demand on how people should be, not as they are.

The story to enact for the global economic system is the striving to be an agent perfected for the system. This results in all the edge cases—and more accurately, a majority of people—to be alienated for they can’t adapt themselves to the moral framework of the global economic system.

Another fascinating aspect about the Pando aspen tree is that every tree that shares the same root system will simultaneously change to its gold, orange and green colors as the seasons change. While every tree looks a little bit different, they are all in sync with each other because of shared roots.

For millions of years, it was natural for a people’s story to develop from the earth on which they stood. Legends and myths were borne from the rivers and lakes and mountains and grasslands and the wildlife that were scattered throughout the land. People’s symbolic language rested on the land and animals around them. In the past, a people’s story didn’t typically envision the future, but approached the realities of Nature and life through the lens of familiar symbols. To our global culture, these stories appear superstitious and limited in scope: They were, because these past stories of people were developed for a reality in which it worked; they could not be reconciled with the story of modern society, which does not derive itself from Nature but solely from culture.

Community requires a story, because the story is the moral framework in which all actions are judged. A people’s story is developed from the necessities of their location, and answers why their location preserves these necessities. For example, if fish is the primary food for a community, their story will most likely include the mythology of fish and its relationship to the world and to its people. If the canyons and mountains are essential to the identity of a community, they will include the canyons and the mountains in its mythology as either moral or supernatural authorities.

Whereas the human experience is mortal, the wildlife and the natural environment appears to a community as immortal forces rather than static objects. Moral character is applied to Nature because even as generations pass and people return back to the earth, Nature appears immovable and providing. Nature is thus afforded the properties of godliness that children ascribe to their parents until they realize that their parents are as mortal as the rest of us.

The Fishlake National Forest in Utah contains the world’s most largest living organism: A 107-acre plot of 47,000 genetically identical Pando aspen trees. All part of a single root system, the Pando trees are estimated to weigh 13 million pounds in total. I started to appreciate this fact more and more when thinking about community. Despite our culture’s effort to hide our birthing process from Nature with sterile maternity wards, humans spring forth from the earth like these trees. And up until the past century, humans typically were raised on the earth they were borne upon.

As fleshy extensions of the earth below one’s feet, we are raised not just by parents but by Nature, whose natural properties remind us that we are not above it by recognizing the inescapability of gravity, shitting, and death. Thus, when we give up the pretensions of being sheltered from Nature, we can be more open to the fact that, just as we are what we eat, we are where we live. For millions of years, we embodied our location: If there was fish in the river, you ate fish and developed a culture around its nutritional preparation and spiritual symbology. If bears were nearby, you internalized the hazards of predatorial beasts, but also the magnificence of Nature’s larger-than-life creations. Live next to a mountain, and you know you are part of a mountain people, but also know that the mountain is an extension of yourself.

While I mentioned that the story is the most important ingredient for community, a community’s story used to be solely birthed from location. Now, our global society can defeat all the bears, eat fish from thousands of miles away, and visit mountains on a whim. Thus location in these days functions more like a fashion statement than a fundamental part of your existence. However, as I said before: While our global culture considers location to be choice-driven, we are still a product of location, because location breeds necessity.

For example, even though the city has the means to gobble up anything from around the world, economies of geography still apply: In the Midwest, crab will be less available, so people won’t develop a particular food culture around it. In the suburbs of California, water is increasingly rationed out, so your house and lifestyle must adapt accordingly. Cities absorb a lot more heat from the sun, creating a weather system unique to surrounding areas, so people may wear different clothes from those just twenty miles away. As our society attempts to homogenize the human experience, these geographically-derived cultural differences look to be more and more, but they do indeed exist because of the realities of Nature. Community can exist despite our attempted turns from Nature because it still breeds the necessity of difference: The Californian suburbanite is having a different urban experience than the New Yorker and the Chicagoan because their interactions with Nature subtly but effectively different.

Whether human-made or natural, our physical location has been the primary means toward the grouping of people who often develop and share a story to enact.

#Belonging to History

At 12 years of age I told my friend that I would burn if I ever entered a church. Of course, this was just a dramatic gesture for a child who felt uncomfortable in religious spaces, especially those of Protestant background—the symbology of Catholicism was more familiar, but did not entirely remove my trepidations. When I entered the churches—which was common, as southeastern Iowa predicates its community upon them—I did not burn, but my heart sank and my stomach went aflutter. I felt like a beast in a lab, the clinical setting of the church opposed to what little personality I had at that age. I shared these feelings for military offices, which my dad frequented during his last years in the Army as a career counselors, where all was silent and empty, but functional for the infrequent passersby. The cork board ceiling deadened the sound, and the white walls and office chairs willed anyone to stay for long.

The traditions of the church and military offices stayed strong, kept alive by humans seeking connection with each other, but austere enough to remind its inhabitants that their duty is not to each other, but to God and Country. It was the tradition of history that kept these buildings and rooms intact—one wrong move and all would be lost to the stray desires of men and their wanting of connection and belonging.

I could never stay comfortable in churches and military bases: Their history was too strong, with expectations of the future deeply rooted in the ancient and near-past. The inhabitants were one of historical making, those who wished to repeat the accomplishments of others by way of lifting—too repackage achievements and present as new and innovative. Did I, as a 12 year-old, know this? Absolutely not. But what I felt were the stakes of religion and military. Symbols of honor, duty, piety, devotion, faith, were all strewn about these rooms and halls, in pictures and ornaments and trophies. Knowing that I could never uphold the march of history, shied away from the opportunities of religion and warfare. My ambitions were too low, at least for this crowd: I sought freedom from history, not its contribution. Thus, I excluded myself from the march of soldiers and evangelists, and all the tertiary benefits conferred upon both: Belongingness, brotherhood, tradition, stability, etc.

Is it cowardice? These occupations belong to core tenets of civilization—was I too cowardly to commit myself to the annals? That once I revealed myself as an agent, I would be found out for what I am: An imposter? Over and over again I try to find a path within civilization that is Good and Useful, yet over and over again I default to the ways that were thrown out in disgust: Wavering, unsure, conflicted, seeking a way out. Why do I want a way out when the path to belongingness, brotherhood, tradition, stability is one or two simple steps away?

Why Nihilism feels like an essay borne out of a confusion of language that appears to make people at odds with one another even though they are on the same page. The first contended word is “hope”, which author Flower Bomb previously detailed in their essay “No Hope, No Future: Let the Adventures Begin!”; Flower Bomb finds criticism of a certain brand of hope, one that “activist leaders and liberalism utilize in order to mobilize mass movements.” Per Flower Bomb:

Similar to how religion offers a heaven at the end of a life of misery, I have seen how leftism offers the same “heaven” in the form of “coming” insurrections or the traditional “Proletarian Revolution.” 
Flower Bomb suggests that one should drop such hope for promises of mass movements, and to rely on individual action to achieve one’s sense of anarchy in the world. The primary issue with this essay is that Flower Bomb thinks this runs counter to Zerzan’s version of hope. Repeatedly in his books, Zerzan pointed out that certain brands of progress and revolution have more capability to pacify participants rather than engage and make them active in any kind of action. Flower Bomb shares this criticism, yet they are stuck on the fact that Zerzan said “Yes Hope” rather than “No Hope”. They go on to summarize an argument for anarcho-nihilism:

I’m pointing out that some discover freedom in the total abandonment of positive politics – including the “utopian future” tied to it like a carrot. For some, nihilism is the pursuit of creating moments of bliss here and now with the rubble of burned down slaughterhouses, the cartloads of retail theft, the spontaneous attacks against fascism and so on.

This confuses me because Zerzan’s anthology “Against Civilization” includes Feral Faun’s “Feral Revolution”, which is just a more flowery version of Flower Bomb’s words:

There can be no programs or organizations for feral revolution, because wildness cannot spring from a program or organization. Wildness springs from the freeing of our instincts and desires, from the spontaneous expression of our passions. Each of us has experienced the processes of domestication, and this experience can give us the knowledge we need to undermine civilization and transform our lives. (Feral Faun, “Feral Revolution”)

After reading several of Zerzan’s books, I found that, like Flower Bomb, he relies much more on “negative politics” than positive. Zerzan cut his teeth over the years on protracted criticisms and reactions against technology, agriculture and civilization, and is more likely to quote someone else for descriptions of “what happens next”; typically, those descriptions are more poetic and aesthetic descriptions of the future than step-by-step programs that both Flower Bomb and Zerzan fear in the construction of a post-civilization world. Flower Bomb believes that Zerzan’s hope has a carrot built in, yet I have yet to see any evidence of this in his writings.

Nihilism is the second word in contention: For Flower Bomb, nihilism is a freedom to enact individualized anarchy, without the need for promises of collective action. Yet Zerzan approached this idea very similarly:

For postmodernism, the self is just a product, an outcome, nothing more than a surface effect. Nietzsche actually originated this stance (now also known as “the death of the subject”), which can be found in many of his writings. Kaczynski expressed a determinate autonomy and showed that the individual has not been extinguished. One can lament the end of the sovereign individual and lapse into postmodern passivity and cynicism, or diagnose the individual's condition in society and challenge this condition, as Kaczynski did. (John Zerzan, Twilight of the Machines)

I’m not too happy that Kaczynski has to be referred to as the spiritual evolution of Nietzsche, but this excerpt goes to show that individual sovereignty is still a priority for Zerzan, and nihilism tends to reduce the individual into a cynical “surface effect” for others (a hair-do, a quirky lifestyle, a diet) rather than the individual human being as its own end. Let’s try to be clear so we don’t talk past each other: I offer lackadaisical and unfinished definitions to the words “hope” and “nihilism”:

  • Hope is the belief that something can be done.
  • Nihilism is the belief that nothing can be done.

If you approach “*Why Hope” * and the rest of Zerzan’s writings using these two definitions, I think people like Flower Bomb would be much more agreeable to his reactions against nihilism and his resultant rallying cry for the belief that something can be done. Whether by individuals or groups, something can be done—egoism and individualism has nothing to do with hope and nihilism.

Flower Bomb starts their definition of nihilism as “the pursuit…” and what is more hopeful than a pursuit? There are so many cultural entities that seek to end your pursuit for more—your job, your friends, your family, your finances, you religion, your politics, your hobbies—that it’s unfair to say that the self-defeating nihilist is only a stereotype or myth. They are real—anarchists or not, I can’t stop hearing the nihilistic tendencies of our culture in almost everyone I know. In fact, I feel alienated and alone in my belief that something can be done. My friends, my family, my peers, my co-workers, my siblings all need to be reinvigorated to ask more from this society. And we all must muster the courage to throw it out when it doesn’t work for us. They need to be reminded that something can be done.

Whereas Zerzan called for the belief that something can be done, Flower Bomb heard a call for “obsessive positivity”. Where Zerzan criticized solipsism brought on by forms of egoism, Flower Bomb heard criticisms of self-worth. Yet they arrive at the same doorstep, critical of civilization and ready for individuals and groups to make their moves for a better future. Damn the semantics, we are closer to each other than you think!

Lastly, Flower Bomb introduces a very important idea which I believe defines the current state of relativism and the general trend to move from the questioning of authority to the questioning of all shared knowledge:

Is it unreasonable to be desperate for freedom – for the reclaiming of one’s life from the civilizing institutions that steals individual livelihood? Even if one feels it is hopeless?

I cannot speak to the reasonableness of the desperation of freedom, but I can describe an effect I’ve seen when the hopeless express their desperation without movements toward actual freedom. Between people involved in QAnon, flat earthers, Joe Rogen-amplified theories, 9/11 conspiracies, I’ve observed a core of desperation for individuality that appears unlocked by habitual contrarianism. This core of desperation heightens the validity of any “alternative fact” that may exist in this world, and paired with a disdain for traditional media and popular shared knowledge, these people construct their individual identities on the contrariness of their belief systems. These people hold on to their beliefs in flat earth and QAnon and UFO sightings and 9/11 conspiracies, not because it gives them hope, but because it helps to channel their nihilism in unique ways.

Their hopelessness is also self-defeating—even if they truly believe these potential earth-shattering revelations, they do nothing but espouse these beliefs during parties and car trips, because these contrary beliefs do not serve anything but an aesthetic identity. Listen to their excuses about why the aliens would not want to interact with us but would still like to study us; listen to the QAnon followers who would rather stay behind their computer rather than take to the streets; listen to the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, who appear to be reading a script rather than constructing the event themselves. These hopeless people have been rendered inert in their desperation of freedom at all costs of intellectual dignity for the passing individualisms that occur when it triggers the ill-fated “normie”.

Hope—the belief that something can be done—is a more powerful antidote to today’s nihilisms than one may think. The nihilism of progress has repeatedly tells us that some government program or scientist is already working on fixing the problems of the world, yet by the end of each year we appear with new and growing issues. This is not where are hope lies—our hope lies in the fact that it was not always like this, and doesn’t have to continue as such. I see little difference in positions between Flower Bomb and Zerzan—except that I can never let the hopeless off the hook, as they are the most detrimental to any individual or group cause, stuck on spirals of cultish behavior for charismatic digital storytellers.

As the 20th century lurched toward the 21st, Eustace Conway tried shepherding us instead into the seventeenth. In 1987, he founded Turtle Island Preserve—now over 1,000 acres of mostly pristine Southern Appalachian wilderness, serving as a preindustrial farm and education center.

[Conway] took up that elusive mantle that so many have before him: teaching humanity again how to live with nature rather than kill it. Lessons in squirrel-snaring, food-foraging, and fire-building were taught right alongside those in honor, frugality, and humility. Elizabeth Gilbert chronicled this mission in her 1998 GQ article and 2002 biography on Eustace, each christening him “the Last American Man.” The title stuck, and Eustace garnered something of a folk hero status. He spurred the many who flocked to his year-round programming to create islands of their own: pockets of moral and ecological refuge in an ocean of vice and sprawl. [(GQ, “Eustace Conway Wants to Retire. Can ‘The Last American Man’ Find His Replacement?”)]

This article’s author, Will Bahr, likened the life of Eustace Conway to that of tragic hero Christopher McCandless from the book Into the Wild. McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska, where he would die alone, detailing his regret for isolating himself so much. Conway himself kayaked across Alaska, cycled across Germany, and canoed across America. Truly, Conway is an archetypical Frontier American: Enterprising, ambitious, lonely, domineering, and unable to conceive that he is a product of our modernity, not an antidote.

As the oft-quoted John Donne poem goes: No man is an island. The adventurous modern spirit forgets this; Conway did as well, making a name for himself as an individual Mountain Man who could push himself to live as if it was the “seventeenth century” rather than accept the reality that we live in right now. He made escapes from our urban, industrial world to play in the small sections of woods that America has kept around. Feeling above the rest of us, Conway concluded that his way of living is the right way to live: pre-industrially, directly off the land.

His modern spirit, like L. Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand, and any other cult of personality built around an individual’s vision, constructed a promised utopia: Blue Turtle Island, 1,000 acres of escapism from reality. A Reality Distortion Field, as Steve Jobs followers would call it, where supposedly one is freed from the vices and failures of modern society. You don’t have to read much of the GQ article to see that the promised land has not yet arrived.

“Welcome to Turtle Island. I am a dictator.”

As Blue Turtle Island opened its doors, Conway quickly figured that accomplishing his objectives about old-style living required the help of others, as he was already overstretched in his duties—seventeenth century folks were quite busy surviving rather than going on media circuits, right? Reality set in for this dogmatic personality: compromises would have to be made to reach the current generations. Someone needs to carry the message beyond Conway’s lifespan, and inevitably they will have their own twists on it. But as long as he lives, Conway wants to micro-manage the heir to the throne of the Last American Man—until they lose their own individuality and simply become a clone of him. It is like the tragedy of the Christian God and Man, who is so powerless that it can only look angrily upon the Earth’s people as they break all of his rules.

Conway’s largest excuse for his failure to have changed the world:

“The young people are less and less capable every year,” he tells me. This isn’t your standard millennial bashing—to Eustace, modern Americans are “the most incapable people that have ever existed on the face of planet Earth in the last three million years of human existence. Period.”

In terms of Conway’s standards for human living, this is objectively true, and applies to more and more of our global society. However, Conway’s pessimistic bent on modern life is itself the curse of modernity: One may be able to construct the ideal self, but every time this self-construction has been forced upon groups or societies, they tend to fracture and become embroiled in what the ideal identity truly means. To serve a narrow and singular vision of the world, people have to constantly navel-gaze and affect their actions to fit the cookie cutter shapes this vision has created. Conway’s challenge isn’t the depletion of knowledge about simple living, but that his particular vision for it provides little value for those truly seeking a way out of modernity.

It wouldn’t take long before the young saw right through the veneer: Why are we forcing ourselves down Conway’s road when we could be doing this better, or differently, or doing something completely different?

The modernists of the world always fear these children, believing them to be signs of cultural decline. Conway already described himself as a benevolent dictator: What use does he have of the anarchic spirit of children? He is creating his utopia, not theirs.

Conway is seeking a simpler, pre-industrial life of local farming, living within Nature, and sustainable exploitation of the land. I enjoy such goals, but wouldn’t touch the dictatorship over Blue Turtle Island with a ten foot stick. I don’t see the results of a better life stemming from the Island, I see people giving up things in order to live an escapist experience, until, just like Conway, they buy a house, a housekeeper, and a smart speaker. That is the danger of modern society: It is always there as a fallback when you fail to transcend it. Always ready to pick you up and ask, “Well, did you shake that energy out, and are you ready to enter the default?” Some exhaustedly whisper “okay,” and enter the modern society with a whimper.

We need a new default. Eustace Conway’s Island could not serve as a default because it is structured as a quasi-dictatorship, an escape from modern society while also borrowing parts of modernity for its benefit. A new default doesn’t pretend for utopia, just as our reality doesn’t pretend that it’s a utopia: In fact, it’s downright ugly, but people fall back on it anyway. A new default accepts people as they are right now, and tries to experiment with any way it can to make our situation better.

A new default rests on partnerships and equal voices in a matter so that hierarchy is diminished and each person has equivalent stake in their adopted way of living. A new default is also not the one way to live: It is the realization that one must tap into the natural instincts of the human being, a being that is group- and band-oriented and that can’t manage hundreds of people at once; thus, the default is cultural decentralization, so small groups of people—communities—can partake in their own cultures and justice systems and economic exchanges and methods of belongingness. The default is realizing a community’s freedom of self-determination—so long as we have a centralized government, it would be the encouragement of support of this self-determination.

Perhaps Eustace Conway is the Last Domineering, Lonely, Rigid, Individualistic American Man—and this could be to everyone’s benefit as we move beyond the American and into the communal spirit that has been so strong for nearly 3 million years. Our spiritual capabilities to develop community and belongingness have not diminished, even if modernity attempts to challenge it with individualistic Mountain Man mythologies and promises of “utopia”. I’d recommend we consider people as they are now rather than what the Conways and the “dictators” of the world want us to be. These domineering personalities want you to build their pyramids, and you should be asking: Why do I need to build a pyramid at all?

The combination of features, like petroglyphs, geoglyphs and trail networks, and the landscape's significance to the origin stories of several Native American tribes have led to multiple attempts to have the area, also known as the Great Bend of the Gila, declared a national monument. (“[From the Gila River to Bears Ears, a renewed push to protect public lands in the Southwest]”, The Arizona Republic)

This begs the question: Why not reintegrate these lands into the Native American reservations whose histories live on these rocks and boulders? Why rely on a bipolar political administration who can create and nullify national monuments as it pleases?

The expansion of federal protection over lands runs parallel to the disempowerment of local communities as they cede the ability to protect themselves and the land they live in and off of to distant, short-sighted land management agencies managed by politicians in Washington D.C. Bears Ears and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are a testament to the failure of ceding these powers to the federal government, where once protected lands are a political battleground between profit and “protection.”

It was a pillar of American democracy that federal powers were subordinated by state and local ordinances. As the 20th century passed, we have flipped the hierarchy on its head: Local communities are subjugated by state and federal agencies, sometimes at the cost of their health, well-being, and lives. Yet we feel an air of accomplishment when the federal government tries to “protect” public lands—a land that should have been managed, enjoyed, and protected by its local people in the first place.

On the conservative side, public lands are supposed to go the way of the Tragedy of the Commons: uninhibited, also known as exploited and exhausted. On the liberal side, public lands are supposed to be managed by the highest echelons of government so that it cannot be touched by corporations or the local communities who live off it. On both sides, the local community suffers as our two primary ideological factions seek to transfer public lands to those with the largest wallets or the most political power. The question one should ask: What does the community want from their land?

The phrase “public land” is a misnomer because it’ll only be public as long as it’s convenient for corporate and governmental interests, who are willing and directed to lock away and exploit public land when it feeds budgets and fulfills “conservation objectives”. The amount of hoops the public has to jump through to have a say over what goes on within public lands is astounding—the bureaucrats of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are not elected positions and have no responsibility to the public; they are guided by Congressional legislation, not people.

And we are trying to push for more and more public lands to be managed by such unattached, publicly-uncommitted agencies like the Forest Service and BLM? What kind of cognitive dissonance must one adopt to complain about the failures of federal public lands and then push to make it even more federally-controlled?

Local communities should be brainstorming how they can take back and manage the public lands they live in and off of so they aren’t part of an ideological pissing match between conservatives and liberals, who will designate national monuments and take it right back as easily as the wind blows. Right now, tree huggers and Q theorists from the likes of Michigan and Arkansas have an unearned say in the management of Arizona’s Native American histories and the grounds they are written upon, and it makes no sense. In the case of this, the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe should have a say, and no one else; we must give up our futile hope that the federal government can truly represent small minorities, and direct our hopes toward a future where local governance reigns supreme and communities can regain a direct say over what goes on in their physical surroundings.

P.S. I’ll be direct here: The federal and state governments are one of many actors seeking the dissolution of community. By representing no one in particular, these government bodies write legislation the erases the specificity of community cultures, and replaces it with a generic “national culture” that feels weightless compared to the tangibility of local cultures.

P.P.S. I’ll be direct again: I argue that public lands are simply lands under constant political pressure from two ideological groups. I seek to innovate on privatizing land: I want to “communitize” it. That is, I want to return public lands back to the people who live within and off of it, and let these communities decide for themselves what they should do with corporations, conservation, recreation, etc. Of course, this is a double-edged sword as some communities will decide to prioritize profit over well-being; if this is the case, can you blame the community when it has lived in a country that has always encouraged profit over personal and communal health?

Thus, if we witness the self-immolation of desperate communities and their land, we will immediately know that it is the national and global culture that needs to be fixed so that future communities will not see it fit to sacrifice themselves for corporate interests.

Chesa Boudin on the growing population of fentanyl users:

“As long as we have people who are addicted to drugs, who are willing to destroy their own bodies and their own lives, no amount of investment on the law enforcement is going to solve this problem,” he said.

The question one must ask: What in this life makes people willing to “destroy their own bodies and their own lives”? If the story of modern society is objectively worth enacting, why are people rejecting it, to the point that they’d rather die on the streets?

Some numbers from the Wall Street Journal article:

  • “A projected 88,295 people in the U.S. died from overdoses in the 12-month period that ran through last August, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • In all of 2019, there were 70,630 drug deaths, a record that was likely broken last year.
  • According to the DOPE Project, naloxone (Narcan) was administered more than 4,300 times in San Francisco last year, up from 2,610 in 2019.
  • San Francisco police seized 5.5 kilos of fentanyl in the Tenderloin last year, up from 1.2 kilos in 2019.”

Drug overdoses have been compounded by the pandemic, where local, state, and federal mandates isolated people psychologically and physically. Or as DOPE’s Kristen Marshall says:

The best practice to reduce the risk of Covid is isolation. Isolation is also the thing that puts people at the absolute highest risk of overdose death.

Experts have concluded that the only way to combat drug addiction is medication. Not a better life, not an alternative to this one, but more drugs. When we double down on the technologies that are failing people, we will always lose the so-called “War on Drugs”. According to these people, the only way to win the War is with better guns.

Step back from the particular drug of the day and see what is happening: A growing population is seeking alternatives to this life in any way they can, and they found the rough way out.

My suggestion: End the combat, and figure out where we have failed to develop suitable alternatives to isolated, lonely, desperate, globalized society that are pushing these people into drug addicts. And if it isn’t feasible to enact those alternatives, we’re not in such a free country after all.

Half of Americans lack the reliable internet access it takes to start a business in 2021. Biden's infrastructure plan could change that…

Not only did Botkin's digital strategy instantly lead to increased monthly sales and quicker payments compared with the original owner, he landed crucial six-figure investment to purchase the business by sharing his pitch on Twitter.

Our global culture is endlessly growth-led. Now, no true business should maintain consistent revenues but must infinitely expand by reaching global consumers. The internet has been important to the growth of small businesses that adopted it; now it appears globalization is making the internet a requirement for the existence of small businesses.

The old magic of the internet was that it was a privilege to use, a delight that one can connect with others from so far away. But soon it will be institutionalized, and those who don’t use the internet will be called “poverty-stricken” or “Luddites”. They will be cut off from making businesses because they naïvely supposed they didn’t need this technological privilege.

The internet is transforming into an institution, a mandate, and an entitlement.

“Broadband internet is the new electricity,” the Biden administration says in its plan to invest $100 billion in improving American connectivity.

Wiser heads are behind The CW’s new “Kung Fu,” which not only casts Asians as Asians but makes its hero a woman. And moves the principal locale out of the Wild West and into current-day San Francisco. And eliminates a lot of the Taoist profundities that informed Carradine’s dialogue. And no one says “Grasshopper.” So, basically, it’s an entirely different show. Albeit with the same name and a similar number of slo-mo spinning back kicks. (‘Kung Fu’ Review: Marshaling the Art of the Reboot, [WSJ])

The original Kung Fu series was a mediocre but moderately pleasant tv show. The casting was embarrassing—along with racial issues, Carradine’s personality barely carried the show. The action was weak, but what can you expect with a weekly, low-budget show.

What kept me coming back to Kung Fu was the “Daoist profundities”, because they were periods in which Caine and supporting characters can meditate on the situation in a moral and spiritual way. In the episode “The Tong”, Caine performs a shadow puppet allegory for a child who has run away from the town’s gangsters. His story describes the circularity of power:

You see the stone cutter chipping away at the mountain. He must work very hard all day long just for a few grains of rice. Now here is the lord of the province, on his horse. The stone cutter is filled with envy. Which would you rather be? The lord of the province or the stone cutter? The sun beats down on the lord of the province. With all his power, the lord of the province cannot make the sun stop shining. Do you still want to be the lord of the province? With all of its power, nothing can stop it. But wait, what is this? It is the cloud, that falls across the face of the sun. And snuffs him out like a candle. Now you’re the mightiest thing under heaven and earth. Are you contented? That is the mountain, it is in your way, cloud, what do you do now? You cannot get above it. You will wear yourself away. Congratulations, you have made the wisest decision [the mountain]. Now the sun cannot melt you, the rain cannot wash you away. Nothing can disturb your serenity. [The stone cutter appears again, chipping away at the mountain]

The beauty of this scene is that it does not even put a button on what it all means, or why it is relevant to the episode at hand. It’s not hard at all to understand in Nature, no being is immortal; we are all subject to the reality of Nature.

These types of scenes are few and far between in the original Kung Fu series. If the Wall Street Journal is accurate about the reboot cutting out what I found to be Kung Fu’s only redeeming feature, I find the choice to call it a reboot confusing, given how it has given up everything that might have provided the essence of the original. Why name your show after a series you have no respect for, that you want nothing to do with? Why not call yourself an original name, or at least explicitly state that this is not a “reboot” but a desire to use the phrase Kung Fu because it’s just nice and short?

WSJ’s John Anderson ends with this thought:

From what one can tell, the production itself makes a political statement, but the storyline won’t.

This phenomenon has been increasingly common over the past decade: The production of a movie or tv show is the political statement, but the show’s actual content signifies nothing in particular. We saw this with Black Panther and the recent Ghostbusters, where nothingness was elevated by racial or gender pandering. In a postmodern society as this one, where we’d rather watch how the sausage is made than actually eat the sausage, audiences might be looking for political performances from the production—the content of the movies barely matter.

It appears that subversive filmmaking or showrunning would rather pick low-hanging fruit in production rather than put the effort into making original, quality shows that subvert assumptions about our daily lives. If the new Kung Fu has nothing of the original, and is decidedly unpolitical in its narrative drive, what’s the point? More mediocre dialogue, more mediocre action, more self-congratulatory pedantry for putting lipstick on a pig.

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