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

[Note: This is the second part to the last post, for those of you too lazy to scroll down and figure that out. And Trickster, you’ll get these posts when I’m damn good and ready. So there.]

*Reason #6: Evenly Distributed Misery*

Why It Rules: First, a word of explanation. Some people refer to this phenomenon as ‘civil rights’, or ‘equality’, or a various range of things that sound a little more uplifting than the phrase I use for it. Why do I call it Evenly Distributed Misery? Two reasons. First, I have a fucked-up sense of humor. Second, I feel it speaks more to the actual essence of what the thing is. I’m of the view that the real reason that nations around the world experience factional strife between their various ethnic/religious/economic/social sects is that people have a hard time coming together when society presents different groups with different sets of problems that the other groups don’t understand. And, to that end, the most important thing you do when you equal the rights playing field, as it were, is invite yet another previously marginalized group in to experience the pain and misery that the majority has been going through for years.

How It Happened: Well, this one is still in progress actually. Each generation, in every country, seems to have their own struggle for one group or another to get in on a piece of majority pain. Whether it’s gay and lesbian Americans struggling (as Chris Rock so eloquently put it) to be as miserable as the rest of us in marriage, or Muslims in France struggling to have a part of the misery of being considered French, everyone has got a few groups they could stand to be doling out a little more soul-crushing annoyance to.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Some people are very comfortable in their misery, and don’t feel like sharing it with others. Also, they’re flaming fucking bigots.

Why It Rules Anyway: Commonality and understanding are bred through mutual enemies better than any other way. And it’s much better when those enemies are life’s general annoyances rather than say, foreigners. Mainly because the former leads to aggravated unity and the latter leads to aggravated unity and world wars.

*Reason #7: Safest Wars EVER*

Why It Rules: This one is gonna make the peace freaks a little upset. But the thing about upsetting peace freaks is they have no way of stopping you from whatever you’re doing when it comes down to it. So hippies, save your hate mail please. I know war sucks, I’m not an idiot. HOWEVER… If you GOTTA be in a war, today and now is the best fucking time to POSSIBLY be in a war, at least for the advanced industrial nations. It’s really kind of amazing, considering the weaponry that gets fielded on a modern battlefield, that friendly fire alone doesn’t grind fighting men and women underneath the weight of forward momentum. The grand asymmetry of current conflicts might have something to do with it, but the fact remains that body counts are DOWN when it comes to war. Way, way, WAY the fuck down. The United States recently passed four thousand US troop deaths total in Iraq. Yes, it’s tragic. Yes, I feel for every one of them and especially their families. But it IS worth noting that this country lost over six thousand troops in Vietnam in 1966 ALONE. And that WWII, a conflict shorter than the one we’re engaged in at the moment, resulted in over FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND deaths. So really, if you gotta pick a time to go to war, the 21st century isn’t a bad call.

How It Happened: Technology, both medical and military, for the most part. Even in the past fifteen years or so since the Gulf War our precision guided munitions have gotten… well, precise. Friendly fire has dropped of more precipitously than the Mariana Trench, and that’s saying something since during the Gulf War friendly fire was the biggest killer of our own troops. And military medicine, communication, and response is just retarded good now. It’s getting to the point where if they can scrape a brain, a heart, and a spine off the battlefield, they can rebuild you. They have the technology.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Well, some people just aren’t going to be satisfied till they live in that mythical world where people don’t go to war, everyone gets along, and magical rainbow-ponies carry everyone around on clouds of pure delusion. But since that place only exists in John Lennon’s imagination (or did, before he died… violently), it’s hard to fathom why someone would object to armed conflict becoming less deadly. However, it’s happened. And I gotta admit, the argument that’s been presented is somewhat convincing. Though this notion hasn’t quite made the national stage yet, it’s been argued by several friends of mine that a safer form of warfare actually gives politicians more reason to go to war in the first place. The less soldiers coming home in boxes, the less people complaining that the conflict needs to be brought to a speedy close. Hell, it’s probably a significant factor as to how a conflict like Iraq can be fought without a draft, an occurrence which WOULD end this show, and quick. Can you see the uprising the parents of the pretard generation would create if their suburban larvae got slapped with a 1-A classification? Oh, how they’d shake their lattes in civil disobedience. Still, only time will tell if a markedly reduced tendency for the US soldier to die will lead to a round robin game of ‘Okay, who do we invade next?’ The threat of that though, I must concede, is real.

Why It Rules Anyway: Well, war is horrible. Dying less is a good thing. And there’s no definitive proof that lowered body count is going to lead to more military commitment around the globe. And even if it DID, there are two things to point out: More wars or not, they’ll continue to get safer and safer, eventually for every army there is. And also (though this is US specific), if we’d quit letting our Commander-In-Chief run around with the military without declaring war properly and with the consent of Congress we wouldn’t have to fucking worry about it, would we? If only there were some time-honored legal document where such a rule were laid out…

The Second Greatest Use Of Hemp Paper In History

*Reason #8: Climate Control*

Why It Rules: Name one thing that feels better than air conditioning in the summer. Now, before you try this exercise, I want you to really imagine it. Long day, maybe after work. You’ve broken a hell of a sweat, possibly just from walking across the yard. You open the front door, that first wave of artificially frigid air hits you, enveloping your moist form. Suddenly all your sweat turns into a soothing balm caressing every inch of your body, releasing a sigh of pure pleasure from somewhere deep inside you… Mmm. Sounds dirty, doesn’t it? It should. Because if you stop and think about it, we can most of us go a month or so without sex if we absolutely have to. But tell me I get no air conditioning in June and I, like many of you, would likely start planning the goddamn insurrection. I maintain that, though often taken for granted, the human ability spreading across the globe to control the temperature around us in the face of the elements may be the single most preventative factor in avoiding mass violence. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself what would happen if the city you live in lost it’s climate control in the middle of summer. If you answered ‘The fine citizens would come together to help one another in their hour of need’, then you are a fucking idiot.

The Enforcer Of Civil Order

How It Happened: Well, first someone (someones, actually) spent the LAST century inventing a wide range of heating and cooling systems, tweaking and experimenting until energy efficiency and cost were at their present levels. Then, good old fashioned capitalism took over as manufacturers decided that every building constructed on the goddamn planets needed air ducts. Bless them for their greed, cause now it means virtually every structure in the developed world can have its temperature set to whatever you like, leaving behind only the inevitable bickering as your wife gets up in the middle of the night and cranks the heat up to 87 fucking degrees.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: This is one of those conveniences that’s come upon us so gradually that most people take it for granted. The other side of that is that it means that no one I’m aware of is objecting to it for any discernible reason. Other than some old environmental concerns about safe freon disposal (taken care of by stronger environmental laws, so far as I know), there’s really NO ONE objecting to this occurrence. Bet there’d be some objections if you took it away, though.

Why It Rules Anyway: You miss the part about it being the reason people aren’t rioting every summer? Seriously, I don’t need another reason.

*Reason #9: Porn On Tap*

Why It Rules: Once, not so long ago, if a young man under the throes of the hormonal tsunami/nature’s cruelest joke called puberty required visual stimulation to alleviate his burning loinal pressure, he was pretty much fucked. Or not, as it happened. While resourceful young lads (and, dare I suggest it, ladies too) could sometimes manage to find some ocular relief in the form of Dad’s porn stash, or a particularly revealing Sears Catalog underwear spread, most of the world’s youth were left to merely imagine what human sexuality looked like up until their first awkward handjob under the bleachers. Even in adulthood, the procurement of porn as a healthy and natural outlet for unsated lusts was a trying affair, usually involving quick and embarrassed raids on the back room of the local video store, where you and your pastor would learn the joys of pretending not to recognize one another. But no more! Today’s sources of erotic entertainment are literally no more than a mouse click away from where you’re sitting right now! Turn it on and enjoy citizen, for the porn of the 21st century flows into our homes and offices like water from the tap. It truly is a brave new world.

How It Happened: Quickly. As in, “within approximately fifteen seconds after the first private computer went online, if not sooner”. Human beings tend to have a pattern when it comes to the earliest phases of communication technology. Step one, invent it. Step two, exploit it sexually. Whatever bold new horizons mankind explores, history teaches us that you can bet damn sure his libido will go with him, along with a bottle of booze if he can fit it in the luggage. Thomas Edison’s FIRST film studio made skin flicks, or at least the turn-of-the-20th-century version thereof. Phone sex? I’m not unconvinced that first line wasn’t ‘Watson, come here… I WANT you.’ Now I’m sure there’s some tech historian out there who can clue us in on EXACTLY the first moment porn and the internet merged in happy congress, but for now I’m just going to assume it was in the same breath that the first person even described what the internet was in the first damn place.

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Two-pronged attack here. From the right: “Because pornography is a satanic destroyer of family values that undermines the attentions and morality of good Christian folk, from children to adults. Also, I’m afraid of my own penis.” From the left: “Because pornography is a barbaric, backwards objectification of women that victimizes people’s sexuality and directly leads to an increase in rape. Also, I wish I had a penis.”

Safety First, Kids

Why It Rules Anyway: You may think I included this item on the list simply as a way to rejoice in the fact that general society is slowly coming around to the level of perversion I’ve always had. And you’d be absolutely correct. But here’s what’s interesting: Turns out that increased availability of porn overall has had an unexpected effect on modern society, made even more pronounced as VHS has given way to the free-flowing internet variety of smut. Porn, it seems, cuts down on rape. No, seriously. This isn’t the only academic work to comment on this correlation apparently, but I was too lazy to find the others. The basic thrust of it (har har) is that because internet access, and it’s accompanying flood of sex sites, arrived at different times in all fifty states, one can look at the decreases in violent rape in each place individually and check for a pattern. The pattern, in case you’re not catching on, is that when people get access to basically free sex shows, rape declines. Significantly. So that throws the left-wing argument (and nearly forty years of feminist rhetoric) out the window. As for the right-wing argument? Even easier. I’m not Hester Prynne, not everyone on the planet has religious hang-ups when it comes to sex, and the position that consensual pornographic production should be limited or censored based on religious principles is simply fucking un-American. Whatever a man, a woman, a midget, and a guy in a clown suit want to do in the privacy of their own home with a camera running is THEIR business, dammit. And anyone with an active PayPal account, of course.

*Reason #10: Norman Borlaug*

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Why It Rules: Norman Borlaug is a guy who is really, REALLY interested in food. Specifically how to grow it out of the land, an ancient and noble profession known as “farming” (for those of you who always wondered where the stuff you eat comes from). Dr. Borlaug is SO interested in growing food, in fact, that he dedicated his life to understanding and improving the process therein. Since 1944, this man has gone around the world studying better and better ways to engineer wheat and other grains to grow faster, more resiliently, and with more nutritional value than before. Also, he’s not one of these scientists that holds something up in a test tube, proclaims ‘Eureka’, and then leaves it to the minds of lesser men to decide what to do with his discoveries. No, this guy goes to place after place where people are on the verge of overpopulating and starving themselves to death, sows the land with his super-wheat, and keeps people fucking fed and happy. This is something that all the political, religious, and social power of a hundred thousand nations since the dawn of time hasn’t managed to accomplish. That’s what he does. For his whole damn life. What did YOU accomplish on the job today, by the way?

How It Happened: Borlaug started what’s come to be known as ‘The Green Revolution’. Though this sounds like a snappy title for a newer, more boring Al Gore documentary, it actually refers to all the work Borlaug has done over the world making sure people don’t die of famine. This is a guy with so much in the way of positive attitude, he’s managed not only to snag a Nobel Peace Prize, but personally piss off one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. From country to country… Mexico, India, Pakistan… this guy has gone decade by decade like Santa Claus with several million tons of edible grain in his pouch. The end result is that, despite Malthusian predictions to the contrary, the only people in the world who are suffering MAJOR mass starvation are the people Borlaug hasn’t visited yet (i.e. Africans). So what’s he up to these days? Last I heard, he was in Africa. No half-assing anything with this dude, is there?

Why Some People Don’t Like It: Apparently, environmentalists take issue when one man goes out and tries to do something nice for PEOPLE, because preserving pristine wilderness apparently takes precedence over making sure people can eat. Nevermind that Borlaug’s principles of high-yield grain were actually developed to, in part, REDUCE the amount of farmland necessary to feed massive numbers of people, or that virtually EVERY so-called “danger” concerning genetically modified food has been debunked by mainstream science. If nothing else, the environmental set will get pissed that someone in America is making money providing farm equipment or investing in foreign real estate. Fuck these people’s families! I’d rather children STARVE than impose a capitalist system on the world. Who cares that it works?

Why It Rules Anyway: Borlaug himself, ever a scientist and a simple man apparently, has answered his critics with more honesty and directness than I ever could, so I’ll just put the quote here:

“…some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

– Norman Borlaug, scientist and verbal evicerator

And that really ties this entire massive treatise together in a lot of ways. For no matter how magnificent the advance, no matter how momentous the miracles of modern life become, there always seem to be a group of chicken littles, be they political, social, religious, environmental, whatever… that seem to think making people frightened of progress is the best way to either gain or hold onto power. And over the years, this cacophony of nay-sayers has managed to convince the free peoples of the Earth that the age they live in is one of horrors, where every new advance is going to chip away at our lives, souls, or general well-being. But over the course of my years on this planet, through careful and rational observation, the two conclusions I can’t shake are these: It’s better to be alive now than at ANY other time in history. And anyone who argues otherwise is a douchebag.

Celebrate our times, and things will only get better. Assume we’re doomed, and we will be.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev Battle