I’ve gone from the unenviable position of being substantially overworked and significantly underpaid to… well, just chronically underemployed now. Which, nominally, should give me more time to talk to all of you.
As ever, though, the tasks grow to fill the time. I have been maintaining my presence over at Liberation Industries, so if you were enjoying my roleplaying output then I recommend you rock on over there for your fix. In the last seven days, I have driven about two and a half thousand kilometers, which takes a lot out of you. If this isn’t sounding familiar, it is. I also crashed my car a little, but fear not. My typing fingers are fine.
There’s also a couple of projects that I’m not allowed to talk about in the blogosphere. If they come about, I’ll tell you all about them. If not, I’ll probably do it anyway, but with much more spite.
After a messy period, I am once again corresponding with the illustrator for Marla Stone. I’ll keep you posted on that too.
Otherwise, what I am stuck with is the grimy reality of my own rent-punk existence. Through the weird haze of sleep deprivation and trying to get the equations to add up with numbers that are much too low, I get the occasional sense that I would much less talk to Maslow and more punch his lights out and steal his pyramid. After all, its hard to get creative when you’re down at this level.
Anyway, I hope I can turn things around. If so, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me.
If not, Maslow better hope he didn’t skimp on his pyramid locks.
Also, I am listening to Florence and the Machine’s Queen of Peace right now. Literally. I strongly advise you do the same. This song is fantastic.
You know that super secret project I keep telling you about?
Well, you’ve been good little readers, so you all get a preview!
With the help of the fantastic artist Emi C. Egan, we’re going to take a walk along the icy streets of Depression Era New York, as Marla Stone’s investigation into a runaway reveals a web of terrible secrets. Its going to be a cold winter, and the cold-blooded feel that more than anyone.
Shiny and delicious releases will begin in the New Year. Hope you don’t mind a bit more of a wait…
Sorry for the delay folks, but I have been struggling to keep up with my new existence as a cog in the corporate machine. But fear not! They thought that just by taking all my time and energy they could defeat me, but no! I have returned to you, my dear imaginary readers! And I fully intend to get back to giving you your one delicious blog post a week.
But first, announcements.
The first is that I’m splitting my attention. In addition to this blog, my roleplaying sector is going to be moving over to my shiny new home of actual play podcasting, Liberation Industries. So if you’re sticking around for fun stuff like Changelings of the Outer West and my gaming projects, they will be relocating there.
But project enthusiasts, fear not! My super secret project is coming near to its fruition, and some of its dark fruit will naturally blossom to you in the next few weeks.
So thanks for hanging around, imaginary readers.
And for what its worth, the soy cheese was terrible.
The weekend was a rather frantic one in the face of the new job, and as I struggle to adapt to the new schedule it leaves little time for blogging.
So I’m going to try something that I think is best for both of us, my imaginary readership.
After a year of semi-reliable posts on the Next Best Plan, I’m going to take a short break.
Probably only going to be a couple of weeks, in honesty. My recent tax return means I’ll be able to afford a new computer, which will let me get back to doing this properly. But I’ve gotten sick of song this by halves, and once I’ve my new rig up and running I’ll be able to launch myself headlong into my various projects (including the super secret one) once again.
So I’ll see you in a couple of weeks, folks. I promise I’ll make as big a splash as I can so you know I’m back.
On the plus side, I have found some vegan cheese. Now, my regular readers will know of my obsession with soy goods, and our glorious vegan blogger-pal Shonalika has on occasion lamented decent vegan cheese. So on this, at least, I must report back.
You will be hearing from me again soon enough, WordPress.
I figure that’s got to be worth something, as I blew off quite a bit if valuable blogging time to do it.
On the plua side, due to my extremely low income, I ahould receive most of the protection money I sent to our government back. Which means, I’ll finally be able to replace my computer, and return to you properly from this strange state of half blogging.
I feel as if I’m cheating you, imaginary readers.
Perhaps I should have called a hiatus when first physical interface gave up it’s duties.
Well… in a couple of weeks I should be back to my rather more verbose e-self.
Maybe. It’s hard to tell, but either way its going to need someone better at this stuff than I am to fix it.
Given this is both the day my blog is due and the first day of Melbourne’s Govhack weekend, this has naturally proven a bit of a problem. So to add to my weaknesses in statistical management (which given I’m at a Government Free Data jam is a bit of a worry) all my usual tech has now spontaneously failed.
So I’m cobbling together a film making suite with a phone, an ipad and zero budget. This has rather delayed my blogging, but I imagine I’ll tell y’all how it goes.
Anzac Day came and went some time ago, and yet my brain does not cease to turn.
Late article, I know. The furore has passed.
For those among my imaginary readership who did not grow up in Australia, Anzac Day sort of sits as a second Remembrance Day marking the catastrophic failure that was the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War, the first large scale engagement of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and despite attempts at appropriation by nationalist elements is usually a reflection on the futility of war and the suffering it causes.
And suffering is the right word. Lacking a glorious, mythic history to look back on, Australia’s military campaigns have in general been brutal, unforgiving attrition, all the more thankless for, with the exception of the jungle war in Papua against the Japanese in WW2, being unwanted deployments in the face of a local population that did not want them.
The film Gallipoli, starring a very young Mel Gibson, really jabs that home, and is a decent primer for those unfamiliar with this little bit of history.
So I begin to ponder the why of it. In the case of the Australian military the objective for the most part is appeasement; an ironic idea for those who remember the demagoguery of the Cold War. Once again excepting the Papua deployment, which is arguably symptomatic of the greater system, all of Australia’s military actions have ultimately been blood sacrifice in an attempt to secure the protection of the most powerful empire of the time; first Britain then, after the fall of Singapore, the United States. In a strategic sense, the far off battlefields of Europe, North Africa, Korea and Vietnam mean very little to Australia, and few of them at any point have been capable of generating any real threat with reach enough to reach the South Pacific. But the Empire of the day deemed them worth dying for, and so the Australian government jumped at the chance to feed its paltry forces into the meat grinder, despite the abandonment by one empire and statements from the latter suggesting that they would do the same if it was in their interests.
This train of thought followed to another. The idea of sacrifice is often brought up at national memorial days, but I don’t think that it is fully understood, especially within this particular context. The Anzacs sure as hell didn’t die for our freedom or prosperity; powerful though the Ottoman Empire may have once been they were never going to invade Australia, and had plenty on their plates to deal with at that point already. Instead, it was blood spilled to placate another dying empire, Australia’s erstwhile guardian. It was an offering of human lives, like the Aztecs used to give to the sun, hoping that it would ensure the British Empire’s protection.
That it did not only makes it all the more tragic.
Upon further consideration, I realised that this idea can be applied to warfare more generally, especially within the context of the Western Hemisphere. Feeding the earth blood to ensure future fortune is no new idea, and has an added layer of economic rationale; the idea of waging war over resources is familiar and common practice for everyone between the Vikings and the US Army and many more besides, but the newly controlled resources are not the only gain for those controlling the war. The ensuing bloodbath means there are fewer left to share those resources.
It took me a little while to get over just how messed up that was.
But on a purely rational level – the kind commonly deployed by psychopaths, for instance – it makes sense. Those who arrange for wars to occur, and usually benefit most from their occurrence, certainly aren’t those on the front line, and thus are probably going to make it to the end of the conflict to enjoy the spoils. They will face less local competition for those resources, allowing them to capitalise even more aggressively. This is a pattern very much in line with Western European conflict throughout history; seize lands to increase agricultural capacity, and there will be more resources available to those that survive. This can be contrasted with the South Asian Mandala system, which had comparatively rich resources with fewer people to work them, whose wars tended to focus on slaving to better extract those resources, and though I won’t go into too much detail I felt it bore inclusion. This is a psychology that appears to have persisted into modern warfare; a means for power groups to raid for resources while shedding surplus bodies.
It might appear that this does not hold for the example of Australia; after all, the country was crippled by the two World Wars, with the workforce significantly drained. I would argue that those undertaking the sacrifice do not always have any benefit from doing so, just like the Aztecs of old. The Australian sacrifice contributed to a reshaping of world politics, that led to their allies becoming the only viable imperial forces in the world. By assisting the United States, both militarily and perhaps more importantly on a political level, the mountain of Australian corpses has assisted the USA in maintaining its current primacy. The sacrifice has aided the country’s guardian, certainly.
And so we come back to Anzac Day, and can ask again what the men and women of the Australian Defence Forces throughout history really died for. What the sacrifice they made, that is extolled each year, really gained. What we have today is a world of American primacy, bull headed patriarchy and free-wheeling capitalism, in which the wealthy can control lobby groups that arrange for governments to send their young citizens to die for resources valuable to unregulated heavy industry, who in turn lobby for more. It leaves rich, old, white men, the traditional brokers of capital in our society, with an even greater stranglehold of its resources.
Where a side of horse meat may make the difference between a poor man and a rich one.
Remember your Trumbo children; you have no duty to die for the rich man. It is your duty to live; for yourself, for your family, and for the fact that you are a thinking, talking human being and for that reason alone your life has importance.
Don’t let the rich man make a sacrifice of you.
Photo “Occupy D.C.” courtesy of Devin Smith, aka Devinish on Flickr. Hope my ramblings didn’t hurt your ears, dear imaginary readers, but this little economist does get very excited on finding new supply and demand forces.
It doesn’t pay to be naive, and I’d be a lot better off if I didn’t let this kind of thing get under my skin.
But it really does shit me when people misquote things.
Religious demagogues are frequent employers for these particular shades of bullshit. In fact, it was some recently re-televised comments by the Right Honorable Fascist Fred Nile that spurred this rant, particularly in regard to his stance on homosexuality. Now, when religious types cry foul on the LGBT community they typically cite the Bible as their evidence, despite their quotations being blatantly mistranslated and homosexual relationships having the support of the big guy JC himself. Don’t believe me? Here’s a nice little translation for you. Yay languages!
But… to be honest the fundies can rot in their own sick, terrified little holes all they like. They never say anything particularly interesting or creative, and Nile’s one of a dying breed, they don’t need my help to push them over the edge. Politicians, however, are alarming in their tenacity. And boy do they manage this misquotation malarky with a gusto that makes my eyes bleed.
I’m thinking about two names in particular. Not the quoters, in this case, but the quotees. John Maynard Keynes. Thomas Malthus.
I can smell hackles rising already. Imaginary hackles. Because all my readers are imaginary. Thanks for sticking around guys.
I have heard Malthus misquoted to an alarming extent, and I found the responsible artifacts to be, if a little conservative, largely inoffensive. The circling resurgence of the meme that has grown from Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population is staggering; the very idea that Malthus said “We’ll have all the babies and eat ourselves to death” appears to have been addition after the fact. The idea of the Malthusian trap, at best guess a derivation of Ricardo’s dreaded Steady State Trap, is something wholly constructed and reeks of extrapolation.
Ok. Context. The C word is still so very powerful.
Malthus wrote the essay in response to a letter from William Godwin, and the latter thinker presented a picture of an anarcho-socialist utopia. Godwin’s thought was an almost Marxist one; that the very institutions that define our society are the source of its ills. Marriage, property (and the gentry who possessed it) and religion were all damaging leeches, and if we could do away with these things then resources would be so plentiful that every man, woman and child would have plenty to meet their needs and wants. You produce enough, and everyone will be happy.
Malthus, pipping cyberpunk to the post by about two hundred and fifty years, cried foul on that. He started by agreeing that the institutions of the time were in fact not universal goods; he makes particular note of the pariah status of unwed mothers. But he also says these institutions evolved for a reason, based on a scarcity of resources that led to people not wishing to support children who weren’t their own. Taking the logic to Godwin’s argument, he posited that once resources were guaranteed by society for each child people would have as many children as they liked, artfully pussyfooting around the reason for that being that people in general like having sex. With the deterrent removed, population swells, and we begin to outstrip our resources.
What happens then? Well, cannibalism, road warriors, the end of civilization… are more or less exactly what Malthus didn’t predict. What he believed would happen is more or less a return to what we had before; marriages to enforce responsibility for children, landowners commanding serfs, all as a method of controlling consumption of resources. Doesn’t show a lot of creativity on Old Tommy’s part, and a blatant disregard for the idea of contraception, but he was working with what came to hand.
So the belief that population is limited by resource availability, as I heard surface at least once during the 2007 Australian election (props to anyone who can find that clip, think it was on Q&A, but not having any luck), is decidedly non-Malthusian. Its limited by institutions in the face of scarcity, so the idea of it being inevitable ranges from vaguely misinformed to downright irresponsible when its rattled off by potential Members of Parliament.
So, lesson the first: Read Malthus before you quote Malthus. Its English, so don’t worry, you won’t run into the same problems we encountered up page with our Bible studies.
Now, dear Keynes, poor Keynes, brilliant, arrogant Keynes. Our pal John Maynard has copped a lot of flack in recent years, his name is used by economic conservatives in the manner that the Devil’s name is used by religious ones. Every so often you hear a pundit decrying some big spike in government spending as Keynesian, hell, Wayne Swann was openly in bed with the General Theory when he decided to, er… “stimulate” the Australian economy. We run into another problem of misquotation again.
Keynes did, in fact, support small government with minimal interference in markets. This man had actually come out and said that he intended to save capitalism from the dual threats of Communism and Fascism, and in the 1930’s that was looking like a losing proposition. But Keynes had faith that the capitalist market could do great things, outstripping centrally planned economies through sheer weight of productivity. And the government should let it do so.
Until, of course, the market fucks up. And it will. Did in 1929, did in 2008. So when those big businesses come crying to the government that they browbeat into deregulating them, howling “please, save us, we’re too big to fail!”, should we bail them out? What would Keynes say?
Though I imagine he’d use better chosen words, I suspect the message would be “Let ’em rot. Can’t have our lives ruled by Moral Hazard fattened imbeciles.”
See, Keynes didn’t say the government should prop up a failing market. He said it was there to protect people when it hurt them. When a demand slump kills off businesses and raises unemployment, the government should employ those people for public works, giving them funds with which to get demand – always, always demand – rolling again.
Admittedly, Keynes also said a lot of things that don’t make a great deal of sense. I can only assume that he wrote a great deal of his works drunk, a sentiment with which I can identify pretty easily.
So, in this context (ooh! Dirty C word again!) Jon Stewart’s suggestion on the Daily Show that Barack Obama could pay the money he intended to spend bailing out the banks to the people in debt to them actually makes some sense in a Keynesian model.
So for the conservative types who seem to associate Keynesian thought with the damn dirty government giving their hard earned tax dollars to crack babies, dope heads and programs to take away their private stash of anti-tank weaponry, that’s not really what it means. In fact, a lot of recent stimulus has seemed pretty out of joint with Keynes’ proposals, but then like we saw earlier, Jesus was totally cool with gay sex. So yeah.
And if I do ever get to debate Fred Nile, I suspect my argument will more or less follow these lines. Not that I think he’d listen.
Alright, that’s that giant poisonous monster off my chest… glad that’s sorted. Anyway, this article is once again Creative Commons meat for the market, and I am not making any money out of it. Feel free to rip it to pieces and rebuild it as whatever macabre offense against nature you can imagine. Do Frankenstein proud. Have a metal week, imaginary folks.
Venice is wonderful. But when you’re traveling you can’t really carry your coffee plunger, and espresso is expensive given my level of consumption. Then, out of the blue, I think I’ve found the solution…