Confidential to Dilbert's CEO: If anybody makes a fuss about your drones-to-terrorists deal, just say, "Who could have known?"
Or, if you need stronger stuff, we've
got a new jeremiad from Chris Hedges
(Plus Dilbert update -- see below)
Here on the Pequod: Yes, that's Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. Says Chris H: "We, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize our collective madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward economic, political and environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. . . ." Or, if you're a little farther back from the precipice, you can just do Dilbert.
No, if you're in the grip of advanced existential (possibly existentio-occupational) rage, Dilbert probably won't do it. Not when (and I can say this from personal experience, all-too-recent personal experience) you're sitting in your cubicle confronting the cold hard reality that life is really, really hard and also pretty darned pointless -- and you know in the depths of your soul that it should be only one or the other, that both is just plain nuts and utterly inexcusable. No, at that point what you probably need is a Chris Hedges jeremiad, explaining why the end is nigh, maybe just a matter of weeks. And luckily we've got one of those ready for the taking, called "The Myth of Human Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies."
Chris has apparently been reading Moby-Dick, and Ahab and the crew of the Pequod and, yes, even the White Whale all work for him as a literary representation of our voyage to nowhere.
Our financial system—like our participatory democracy—is a mirage. The Federal Reserve purchases $85 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds—much of it worthless subprime mortgages—each month. It has been artificially propping up the government and Wall Street like this for five years. It has loaned trillions of dollars at virtually no interest to banks and firms that make money—because wages are kept low—by lending it to us at staggering interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent. ... Or our corporate oligarchs hoard the money or gamble with it in an overinflated stock market. Estimates put the looting by banks and investment firms of the U.S. Treasury at between $15 trillion and $20 trillion. But none of us know. The figures are not public. And the reason this systematic looting will continue until collapse is that our economy [would] go into a tailspin without this giddy infusion of free cash.
The ecosystem is at the same time disintegrating. Scientists from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, a few days ago, issued a new report that warned that the oceans are changing faster than anticipated and increasingly becoming inhospitable to life. The oceans, of course, have absorbed much of the excess CO2 and heat from the atmosphere. This absorption is rapidly warming and acidifying ocean waters. This is compounded, the report noted, by increased levels of deoxygenation from nutrient runoffs from farming and climate change. The scientists called these effects a “deadly trio” that when combined is creating changes in the seas that are unprecedented in the planet’s history. This is their language, not mine. The scientists wrote that each of the earth’s five known mass extinctions was preceded by at least one [part] of the “deadly trio”—acidification, warming and deoxygenation. They warned that “the next mass extinction” of sea life is already under way, the first in some 55 million years. Or look at the recent research from the University of Hawaii that says global warming is now inevitable, it cannot be stopped but at best slowed, and that over the next 50 years the earth will heat up to levels that will make whole parts of the planet uninhabitable. Tens of millions of people will be displaced and millions of species will be threatened with extinction. The report casts doubt that [cities on or near a coast] such as New York or London will endure.
Yet we, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize our collective madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward economic, political and environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, the increased droughts, rapid melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, monster tornadoes, vast hurricanes, crop failures, floods, raging wildfires and soaring temperatures, we bow slavishly before hedonism and greed and the enticing illusion of limitless power, intelligence and prowess.
The corporate assault on culture, journalism, education, the arts and critical thinking has left those who speak this truth marginalized and ignored, frantic Cassandras who are viewed as slightly unhinged and depressingly apocalyptic. We are consumed by a mania for hope, which our corporate masters lavishly provide, at the expense of truth. . . .
NOW I DON'T MEAN TO MAKE LIGHT OF THIS
I have no doubt that Chris is probably right, and there are times, as I suggested above, when this straight truth is all that will do. At less stressed moments, however, I wish I could take Chris's hand and urge him to chill, friend, that things aren't all that desperate, or even if they are, well, what are you gonna do? Look at the bright side. I'm pretty sure there are still more new episodes of The Good Wife to come this season.
If you can manage to step back this far from the brink, then Dilbert may be just what the doctor ordered. Why, just these last couple of days we've had --
DILBERT -- Yesterday (click to enlarge)
DILBERT -- Today (click to enlarge)
NOW, BY WAY OF REMINDER WHERE DILBERT
HIMSELF STANDS IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS --
DILBERT -- Monday (click to enlarge)
No, this isn't much like Life with Ahab. It's more like if you imagined that the Pequod had a lounge with a nice flat-screen TV and an endless supply of DVDs, and life was sweet as long as you were cool with knowing that each night's entertainment had to begin with an episode of Parenthood because the captain "just can't get enough of that sweetie Lauren Graham."
DILBERT UPDATE: Dilbert is "managed"
DILBERT -- Thursday (click to enlarge)