Ten Reasons The 21st Century Owns (Part 1 of 2)

‘The Good Ol’ Days’; As in, ‘those were’, has to be the biggest load of horseshit that’s infected the modern human brain. For the past thousand years or more, global history has been the history of progress. Onward and upward, better and better, slowly transforming the most prosperous edge of average folk from smallpox-scarred illiterate heathens afraid of the boogeyman into obese cell-phone addicts afraid of a whole RANGE of boogeymen.

Something about this isn’t right. Something about the fact that we’ve come from a time and place without penicillin to an age where you’re more likely to die slipping in your bathtub that you are flying like a goddamn bird is failing to sink in for most people. It’s as though we expect and WANT all our problems to be huge. Fact of the matter is though, modern man has it easier, better, and for longer than any who’ve come before him, and I’m going to give ten good solid reasons why.

There are caveats, of course. When I speak of these advances, there will be a whole HOST of protesting arguments, from various sides, eager to point out the downside of everything I’m going to lay praise to. I’ll answer the most likely of these up front, but the key general gripe I feel will come up is that most of the things on this list are available only to a very few (relatively speaking), while huge numbers of people in the world suffer under the yolk of starvation and disease just like they always have. Let me point out that even a hundred years ago, the things I’m going to mention weren’t available to ANYONE, so that’s progress, and you can all suck it.

So here are the first five, in no particular order:

*Reason#1: CHINA*

Here Is The Future, With A Gleaming Smile

Why It Rules: China is the new kid on the superpower block, the one with the most to prove, and since the century started, showing the ability to prove it, with gusto. Virtually any assessment of the country’s economic, political, or strategic position in the world falls somewhere between ‘Outlook Good’ and ‘Yes’ in the Magic 8-Ball of geopolitics. As such, and showing all the proper balls-out cockiness of a winner, all the Great Big Ideas (TM) of the planet are starting to come out of China. Spilling over into everyday life, we’re talking about a place where parking decks will tell you if they’re empty or not before you pull in AND draw you a map to the nearest empty lot, with an accurate count of how many cars are in each location. Remind yourself of this the next time a bridge falls down in the United States.

How It Happened: Well, roundabout 1997, the UK handed China control of Hong Kong, a city/holdover colonial outpost that just happened to be one of the richest places on the goddamn planet (this was honoring a contract that was made long before anyone knew this was a retarded idea). The fear was that Communist China would march in, red flags waving, and put the city on the mother of all lock-downs, kill a bunch of people (like they do), and cripple the world economy. Instead, the Chinese government shocked the fuck out of everyone by experimenting with a hybrid form of Socialist/Free Market principles which they then slowly incorporated into the rest of China. What they wound up with was a country that could enjoy the privileges of free market capitalism (more or less) without all those things like ‘political freedom’ and ‘noisy dissent’ getting in the way of government-driven progress. Nifty!

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Well, the key problem with this advantage of the modern world is that it doesn’t overtly benefit anyone who’s not Chinese. However, there are a LOT of motherfuckers who’re Chinese, so it’s at least worth a place on the list. On top of that though, there’s a laundry list of groups that have varying reasons for beef with China, be they environmental, social, political, OR economic. I mean, what kind of country calls itself great and floods international media with images of peaceful protesters being violently put down?

The Officer Clearly Felt Threatened By His Stylish Slacks

Shit. Nevermind.

Why It Rules Anyway: It’s likely very hard for the average non-Chinese Joe to see how the ascendancy of another superpower means anything to him other than learning more about Chinese cinema or the outside chance his kid is going to wind up opaque to Superman from his toys. But fuck it, SOMEONE has to be number one in the world. And while it may piss everyone else off, when someone has enough pull in the world community to simultaneously send tanks against monks AND get ready for the Olympics, you gotta respect that and comfort yourself with knowing you’ll probably have one more cool place to vacation soon.

*Reason#2: GLOBAL WARMING*

Why It Rules: Global Warming kicks ass. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Who the fuck likes winter anyway? And just when we were all worrying about running out of resources, the polar ice cap starts receding and oh look! Resources ga-fucking-lor! People the world over get to experience weather they’d normally have to travel for, and the Discovery Channel gets a new frozen mammoth special every goddamn week.

How It Happened: Well, for detailed explanations of this, you can find summaries of the official scientific version both in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth or Steven Seagal’s On Deadly Ground. Just depends how many broken elbows you like with your scientific posturing. Fact is, though… Any reasonable human being is going to take the much revered ‘Global Scientific Consensus’ with two major grains of salt. First, the planet’s climate changes WAY more than this, a LOT. And these jackasses still don’t know why. Ask one of them if carbon emissions caused the Little Ice Age. Seriously, ask. Second salt grain consists in remembering that ‘General Scientific Consensus’ was united on fucking eugenics last century, and that turned out to be the shittiest reasoning since alchemy.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: If you don’t know, you better ask somebody. Global Warming has been blamed for everything from Hurricane Katrina to Hannah Montana. It’s as ubiquitous and vague a threat as ‘terrorism’, ‘drugs’, and ‘the economy’.

It’s Funny Cause It’s True

Why It Rules Anyway: Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that humanity is the root cause of the rising temperatures. The same scientists who agree that the earth is getting hotter (something I trust them to be accurate about, even if the cause is suspect), also agree that even if we shut down ALL carbon emissions, WORLDWIDE, TOMORROW… that the planet would keep getting hotter. So, what the fuck? Better learn to love it, folks, that’s all I’m saying. We’re GENERATIONS from shutting down the smokestacks. So even if the dogma is right, we MIGHT wanna think about finding the positive in this before the negative kills us all. Either way, exciting times.

*Reason#3: DUMB GOVERNMENT*

Why It Rules: Stay with me on this one, cause we’re only to number three, and I can feel some of you pulling away. I know that it’s counterintuitive to consider incompetence in government as a plus to living in this day and age. But look at it like this: The more ineffective THEY are, the more opportunity WE have. Government taking money out of your check for taxes you don’t want to pay? Dazzle ’em with some bullshit deductions, and double your money back! Building projects that serve no purpose? Sign up to work, and have a job you can NEVER get fired from, WITH benefits! Foreign wars with vague and possibly unnecessary motivations? Sounds horrible, unless you invested in gold and oil seven years ago. The point is that every massive mistake THEY make is an opportunity for someone with their eyes open and half a brain in their head. It just works that way.

How It Happened: Shit, where to begin? I’m not totally familiar with the arch of escalating government stupidity in other countries (though my overseas contacts assure me it’s plentiful), but in the US of A it started immediately after the big win in WWII and got progressively worse the more money we threw at DC. As libertarian a cliché as it may be, it DOES seem that the more a convoluted a bureaucracy expands, the dumber, slower, and more easily exploitable it becomes.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Because these people are under the delusion that the best kind of government is one that works. They’d prefer a system of organization that doesn’t take more than 72 hours to get bottled water to the Superdome, or takes it upon themselves to declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ on a mission that’s so very clearly NOT accomplished. It sounds great on paper, until you run into problems that government (any government) is uninterested or simply unable to deal with, and you’re left holding your dick waiting for help that never comes. It also leads to the sort of twisted logic whereby you wind up on your roof with your streets flooded expecting to be rescued by the same people who run the post office.

Why It Rules Anyway: You know what effective, organized government looks like?

They Set The Guiness Record For Largest Collection Of Dickheads In One Place

Something like that.

*Reason#4: RELATIVES LIVING FAR, FAR AWAY*

Why It Rules: Why doesn’t it? Back in the day, people were bound to the land they were born. I want you to consider this carefully for a moment. Where you were born is the place you’re going to die. In the meantime, you will spend every waking moment with the people you’re related to, possibly in the same house. If we go back far enough, possibly in the same bed. Seriously. Those people you can only stand to see two or three times out of the year are up in your face until the day you see Jesus. It’s arguable the stress of that may have had more to do with compacted lifespans than shitty medicine.

How It Happened: Cheaper travel, more effective communication, and nursing homes. All elements combined to spread us out across the globe. And given the option, people overwhelmingly seem to prefer to spread to places their immediate kin AREN’T.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: I’ve yet to find anyone who has a serious problem with this, honestly. Probably because it’s been going on for so long and happened so gradually most folk don’t seem to notice it. I suppose you could say that uber-packed airports during every holiday are an argument against this, but I somehow feel that would happen regardless.

Why It Rules Anyway: If you’re not one of the people who insist on seeing your relatives for EVERY airline-headache-inducing holiday, then this shit doesn’t affect you at all, does it?

*Reason#5: VACCINES*

Why It Rules: When I was but a wee lad, I was in the JROTC in high school. Yes, there are pictures, no you can’t see them. Anyway, I had an Army Instructor named Master Sergeant Kent. He was a grizzled war veteran. How grizzled? Well, after three combat tours in Vietnam, he figured he’d take it easy for a while and go train Army special forces in Alaska for winter warfare. So, grizzled. Anyway, he had a story for every occasion, and on one such occasion the subject of old diseases came up. Sgt Kent told of how, as a boy entering third grade, he’d been placed in the back row of his classroom. As members of his class began dying of polio through the year, they’d fill in the empty seats by moving up. Before fourth grade, young Rodney Kent was at the front of the class. After that, rifle training in the freezing cold every morning didn’t seem so bad in light of the fact that I didn’t have to worry about dying of fucking polio. Ergo, vaccines rule.

How It Happened: Have to ask a medical historian. Pasteur invent vaccines? At least one, I’m sure. Anyway, slowly and over time is my understanding. The benefit of living NOW is that a whole fuckload of diseases have fallen to the vaccine, diseases that used to kill millions. What’s funny is that we’ve replaced ACTUAL terror over disease with imagined terror over anything new. Anyone remember SARS? Dysentery would laugh in SARS face, rip its head off, and shit down its neck. Literally.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Simple one here. Pure unbridled ignorance and paranoia. Period. The same thing that led ‘concerned parents’ to INSIST that mandatory vaccines were the cause of autism is the force that led Robert DeNiro to go nuts and kill that one surgeon in that shitty Branagh Frankenstein movie. This is what it’s come to. One of the most basic advances in modern medicine, the humble vaccine, being threatened at it very core by people scared of ‘witch medicine’ being injected into their yuppie larvae.

Why It Rules Anyway: You know what kicks ass about smallpox?

I Almost Didn’t Post This, But I’m A Twisted Bastard

Not having it.

[To be continued in the next post…]

McCain: The Return

[Note: A few months back, I started a series of profiles on the then-numerous presidential candidates. The field having narrowed to three reasonable individuals, and two of them having already been covered, this will be the last installment of the series and political commentary in general until we’re OFFICIALLY down to two (which might be tomorrow, mind you, but still). Also, I figured this was a good night to focus on the man in question, since everyone will be saturated with Hillary and Barack hype all day tomorrow and might want to take a brief break and reflect on the chances of the Republican nominee. I will continue to call him that, incidentally, unless Mike Huckabee can create miracles instead of just majoring in them.]

He’s strong to the finnich…

John McCain may be the most dangerous man alive. Not because he could probably kill you with his bare hands at age 71, though he can. And not because he could probably statistically kill more people with his bare hands at age 71 than most other 71 year olds (though he probably could). No, John McCain’s danger to the world lies in the fact that he could well be America’s last action hero candidate, and he could also very likely be the next President of the Holy Shit He’ll Have The Key To The Nukes. LOOK AT HIM.

I kid, of course. John McCain is the most dangerous man alive because he is the Presidential candidate MOST likely to utilize the military option FIRST in any of the world’s soon-to-be-opening conflicts. And while the Bin Laden’s and Chavez’s of the world might be dastardly in their intent (or whatever), they don’t hold direct lines of communication with Carrier Group Five, either. This presents an interesting challenge to any nominee during an election year where foreign incursions are likely to be in the news.
This is his ‘thumb through the eyeball’ stare.

The first challenge to any McCain candidacy will be to avoid the ‘Goldwater Effect’. Or, to put it in terms more people are likely to understand, McCain needs to make sure everyone knows he’s not a fucking lunatic long before his opponent identifies him as such. His best bet is to laugh it off believably and still call the other man (or woman) an asshole in not so many words the first time they suggest he’s mentally unbalanced. Then it would simply be a matter of turning his… er, eccentricities into advantages in crafting his own image for the voters. This shouldn’t be too difficult for a man that walked out of five years at the Hanoi Hilton and decided something nice and low-impact like that was the perfect primer for a life that would eventually culminate in twenty-six plus years worth of American politics.

One such recent harping point: his anger. Famously, he once said ‘Fuck you’ to fellow Republican senator John Cornyn during a committee meeting. This may endear him to everyone who can remember thinking they’d like to tell John Cornyn the same thing when he said homosexual marriage was the same as fucking a box turtle… Or some such shit. But for the voters with less than 4-6 years of political memory (most of them), McCain will have to resort to polishing over his grumpy old man image and pushing his anger as a sign that he just CARES so much. And isn’t crazy.

This Picture Gives Rush Limbaugh Hives

So, potential strategies aside, what are Goldwater 2’s chances of bringing this thing all the way home to the White House? Damned decent, but hardly a slam dunk. McCain’s largest problem is STILL his lukewarm reception from the far right conservative party base. This group poses the dual challenge of not thinking McCain is mean enough to immigrants AND controlling the church-based voting surge that’s so fucking big it can even reelect George W Bush. Despite all the noise the political media makes of ‘young people are coming out in droves’ to imply that the youth of America are about to vote a change-loving Democrat into office, a sad fact remains. As the likely GOP nominee, McCain’s biggest challenge isn’t Democratic voters but Republicans staying home. An inspiring Democrat candidate might swell their voting numbers SOME, but the youth vote is just as likely to be split along the same lines as the adult vote, the same as it was in the LAST presidential election. That was another one where the ‘young people were coming out in droves’, only to wind up voting like their parents, if you’ll recall.

So the question of a McCain presidency (and possibly war in Venezuela, if you’re feeling optimistic) likely hinges on which force will prevail amongst two: Rush Limbaugh’s overwhelming desire to fellate his microphone all the way to the highest ‘Cume’s he’s had since he was strung out on OxyContin, or the New York Time’s remarkable ability to unite conservatives behind him in a way John McCain himself hasn’t yet managed to.

Out For Now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle