Monday, July 31, 2017

Trying To Legislate Against Stupidity

We could just as easily substitute foolishness, frailty, desperation, ignorance, rage, or even greed, for our last word in this post's title, and the problem would remain pretty much the same.

This gets even more complicated because a clever law can gain a semblance of success. The problem with that, though, is that clever can span across both the "repressive," or "progressive," expression of a law, with the potential collateral damage that can be done, as a consequence, then becoming quite problematic, as well as subjective (especially in what you regard as "successful"). And that's knowing going in that most of the other time you probably aren't going to change the behavior that triggers our list of descriptive labels.

The other problem here is a function of what happens when interactions of every sort, in a vastly complex, social transaction system, now have the ability to adversely affect so much of everything else at the instant of occurrence; and that is because everything is flowing in so many, overlapping streams, of primary intent, which must then deal with the secondary, and tertiary, and so on, interactions that occur randomly along the way of any of these streams, to the actors thus propelled; which causes the interruptions, frustrations, and general hassell we call our daily working lives. And our society, then, also creates new streams of interactive intent in reaction to all of the random events gone astray; themselves, then, creating even more new streams ad nauseum.

The upshot here is that, if you do do something stupid, it can cause a lot of damaging interruptions all over the place. So what now is the shared culpability in all of these possible interactions, when at any given moment, we might all be doing something that isn't either the right level of paying attention, or didn't exercise the right level in talk back to anger that had been building for who knows how long, or talk back to a growing addiction? Or exercising more discipline, in whatever behavior regimen was recommended to you by one "professional" or another. And the list goes on.

And this is just those actions that we would include as obvious examples in our afore mentioned list. A great deal of what happens in Capitalist commercial life can be started on the most sound grounds of investment potential, technical innovation, and beneficial (in the strictest sense of economic development -- as in creating more well paying jobs, and helping our balance of payments globally) results, and yet can end up looking pretty stupid once we become fully informed of what the true costs of the process are; both in terms to our physical, and mental wellbeing, as well as to the planet as a whole.

People not paying attention while driving, or walking, is pretty stupid. And in the latter example stupid because you have just as much responsibility to avoid moving vehicles as they do in avoiding you. Just because your mass, and overall squishyness, doesn't ordinarily make you a massive missile of death and destruction, you are still a cog can can be thrown into a process stream that can cause it to react just as destructively as someone yelling "fire" in a crowded auditorium.

But where do we draw the line here? And more to the point, at least as my bias sees it, is the question: is there something structurally integral here to make all of this ever so much worse?

And in my view, obviously, an operating system that was not designed for the technological environment it now tries to encompass functionally, is absolutely making things worse. And if for no other reason than it works, by its very nature, to keep us so narrowly focused on the singular intent of our particular commercial process. Closed off. Harassed. With so many fears to deal with.

Am I going to be able to keep this job? Will my XXX payment increase (where XXX is whatever critical payment you might want to put there). Am I going to have to find the money for retraining again? Is this lump, or pain, or wheezing, something serious? Is anybody ever going to love me? Is something sagging too much, or not hanging nearly enough? Am I going to meet my quota this month? Is that new person really as scary smart as his first project makes him look? How am I going to make the rent if I don't swallow what little pride I have left and stay with this shitty job?

And so on. All the while the pace of change accelerating on an accelerator all its own (think of an endless mass driver accelerating the ability to accelerate). Which of course cannot go on forever.

The bottom line for this post is to obviously admit that I don't have all of the answer to these questions. But I do want to make sure that you are doing what you can to keep asking more questions about the bigger picture; even as you are made aware of just how complex even stupidity has become.


What's killing pedestrians at a record rate is cars, not phones.

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