Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

“Swelltown” – A Parable for Our Time

The Parking Lot Analogy: You live in Swelltown, with only one big supermarket.  The parking lot holds five hundred cars.  A parking space is normally seven feet – six inches (compact) to eight feet (average sized cars).  One night the parking demon re-stripes the entire lot, making the spaces six feet – ten inches wide.  Upon first glance one would not notice the change.  The driving lanes in the lot were reduced a couple of feet in width as well.  These changes allow the owner to fit forty additional cars onto his lot.  In the following days and weeks there are far more door dings and dents than before.  People have to wait for a car to back out before they can squeeze to their car door.  All drivers have to be more careful navigating the lanes.  Tempers flare in this lot day and night.  The level of anxiety in town becomes so high that Swelltown’s only psychologist has to call for reinforcements.  There harsh words and  fist fights  every day in the new parking lot.  The store has a pharmacy and business is booming due to all of the new prescriptions for mood stabilizing drugs.  Those fifty new parking spaces have added handsomely to the store’s profit margin.  There have been so many lawsuits filed for assault,   reckless endangerment, and property damage related to all of the freshly dented cars, that several law firms from a nearby big city have opened branch offices in Swelltown.

The mood in town has turned from sweet to sour.  Nice people begin moving away.  The local real estate market gets white hot.  Lots of turnover.  Real estate agents are happy.  All of the new homeowners need interior designers.  The new homes need to be expanded to store more food to minimize trips to the horrible parking lot.  Architects are happy.  So many teeth have been damaged in the parking lot fights that dentistry is booming and cosmetic surgeons are thriving as they repair broken noses.  Luckily for the professional class of Swelltown, there is a more expensive boutique market where they can shop using traditional eight foot wide spaces.  They stay cool and calm as they prosper, vacationing at regular intervals.   Things have never been better for the professionals of Swelltown and things have never been worse for the remaining ninety-five percent of the town’s population.

The Parking Lot Analogy is an example of social convection in The Big Engine.  Some people rise in the economy but most people fall.  People rise and fall like warm and cool air in a weather system.  This human convection drives the economy.  Can you spot the weenies in this story?  The re-striping of the parking lot is a big red weenie with drastic negative repercussions for the nice people of Swelltown.  We didn’t hear much in the Swelltown Gazette about the re-striping because the supermarket buys the entire wednesday edition for its grocery specials.  Store owner to Swelltown citizen: “We’re fucking you six ways from sunday and if you complain we will sell you the appropriate pharmaceuticals to set your mind right.”  If you put on your weenie glasses, you can see a big red weenie dangling out of the butt of every single person in town from age six to eighty- six.  The re-striping weenied everyone but a select few  are making a killing on the misery of the good people of Swelltown.  Weenie accrual adds the negatives of psychic and financial burden that drag you down into a more stressful realm.  A synergy of loss is set in motion.  Play the game of Trace the Weenies.  How far can you track the negative forces in your life;  into your own past or out into your community?  You may not be the source of much  but you have the power to control it all.

Where do you see re-striping in your life?   You can quell personal demons until hell freezes over but if the lot is being re-striped, your bliss will be impacted.  Cell phones have drastically lowered the sound quality of the average telephone call.  This miracle device has brought third world phone quality to us all.  The financial meltdown of 2008, Bank fees, credit card fees, Telephone Company fees have re-striped our bank accounts.  The obliteration of small, locally owned businesses by national franchises and box retailers, has gutted most medium and small American towns.  Old news, Whew!  What a sad loss this has been.

The franchise revolution of the past forty years (documented in Fast Food Nation) has added a dismal homogeneity to these small towns.  It has enabled the centralization of the meat and potato industries, gutted labor unions and lowered the Common diet denominator to a point where it is alarming us all.  It is disturbing to see a full-page full-color advertisement in a national weekly news magazine for a drug that combats male depression that is placed directly adjacent to a feature article on the rise of male depression in America.  What a coincidence.

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Theory of Additive Negatives

Two wrongs not only do not make a right but create a reality that is worse than the sum effect of two isolated wrongs.  There is a synergy of dissolution, negatives are additive.  Civilization is a great reciprocating engine whose mechanism is the storm of opposing synergies both positive and negative.  An individual can easily lose control of geometrically multiplying negatives they inherit, assume or pursue.  This loss of control initiates nervous collapse and may lead to over-eating.  Additive negative meltdown may lead to psychic convulsion and projectile ejection of whole cultures from the surface of the earth.

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Weenies

Weenies are small negations, little affronts to which a response creates a larger annoyance than the weenie itself produces.   Weenies are additive.  Taken alone they do not typically warrant a response, but taken as a group they diminish the quality of our lives and must be resisted.

Some additive weenies are killing us.  An example of a weenie is seen in the example of the high tech bank robber who is  also a bank teller.  This person adjusted his bank computer so that it shaved a penny from each of his bank’s transactions and placed those pennies in his own account.  After two years, bank boy was a few hundred thousand dollars richer.  An offensive bumper sticker is a weenie.  I saw one the other day that said: “If you exercise your right to burn the American Flag I’ll exercise my right to adjust your attitude.”  A small threat fouls the Common.  Everyone who reads this bumper sticker gets a weenie.  If you follow this truck and scratch the paint you would be over-reacting.  To do anything other than ignore  it would be a validation, giving it the dignity of recognition, yet there it remains in its small offensiveness – a weenie.

Take a close look at your next telephone bill.  Do you know the meaning of all of those tiny fees?  You don’t really care.  It’s only pennies,  you pay it.  The telephone company makes millions of dollars on their weenies.
When a ten dollar movie  clutters many scenes with brand name products you have been weenied.  When vulgar language occurs in the dialogue of a prime time television show – you have been weenied, unless you don‘t mind.  Hollywood, very jealous of the multibillion-dollar porn industry, has been slowly slipping a big weenie to the movie-going public for years.  Boiling the frog.  Soon there will be little distinction between porn and mainstream films.  Given that we are currently in a sea of violence-porn at the movies perhaps the skin variety will be a welcome relief.

An unspoken aspect of the weenie is time of  transit.  How long will it take to get a weenie all the way up the public’s ass.  If a corporation or government organization has five years, it can usually get its weenie up where it will do the most good for The Big Engine.  Public relations and incessant television advertising are effective lubricants.  The legal system is a very efficient weenie delivery vehicle.  We can change an obscure line in the Federal Tax Code that is seen only by the bureaucrat who changed the line and the $450 per hour accountants who read it and over the course of a few years, a new hatch of millionaires has risen into the morning mist.  A small change in maritime law, a small change in meat-packing regulations, a new definition of pollution can be invasive weenies that quietly erode our constitutional rights.

If we look at legal weenies that affect you directly, and replace each one with a hot dog, you would look out upon a sea of weenies wiggling toward you like Oscar Meyer zombies, pressing into your pores and orifices and dancing away from you having gotten fat at your expense.   Your local police force, rolling tax collectors, delivering municipal weenies directly to your car.  Strobe-lit cameras catching you at intersections eroding your constitutional rights with every flash.   Many weenies enter your life the size of pinworms and leave as polish sausage having gorged upon their specific reduction of your quality of life.  Telemarketers and internet spammers are invasive weenies, clearly visible yet difficult to combat.  The government tends toward support of these institutions of annoyance using tortured interpretations of our Constitution such as the all-pervasive Dartmouth College Case from John Marshall‘s court.  This 1819 ruling  has been more than a weenie, it has proven to be the whole hog rooting around up the global ass.   For a government that uses weenies as its stock in trade,  to ban these egregious pests would be a blow to the institution of weeniedom itself.  It would be a case of the government killing its own evil children.  Weenies damage bliss.  Weenies are enemies of bliss.  Eat one hot dog per week and discuss the weenies in your life with your family and friends.  You can create new categories – they surround us.

Weenies come in six colors: green, yellow, red, purple, blue and white. Get to know them.   They have a powerful effect on your life, your diet, your attitudes, your prosperity.  They are distinguished as follows.   Green weenies are interpersonal.  They come from people you know: family, friends, classmates, co-workers, teachers.  Yellow weenies come from people you meet: strangers, salesmen, usually in the context of  brief encounters.  Red weenie assault comes from large and small businesses and institutions and the media they use: television, radio, feature films and the internet.  Newscasters and political pundits are also agents of the red weenie.   Purple weenies are in your food, drink, medicine and many consumer products.  Blue weenies are federal, state and local statutes.  White weenies are launched by mother nature delivered by small acts of God.

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