Punctuated Progress

By R. D. Flavin


!,,,;:... – …,…?

     We've slapped ourselves silly of late, left some marks, but thank Lugus we haven't punched ourselves out, yet.  Our 2011 downgrade bloody mouse from Standard & Poor's was a minor punishment for having a poopy-diaper Congress and today, after the end of a sixteen day government shutdown, all must share blame for the latest injury to America—the Dagong Global Credit Rating agency from China has changed our credit rating from 'A' to an 'A-'.  I'm unsure if this is tragically funny, hip, or wicked bad news.  It's punctuated progress toward the actualization of Bizarro World (var. Htrae") and all the looney-tunes assbackwardness that's implied (see: "The World of Bizarros" by Otto Binder, Action Comics V. 1, #263; April 1960).  Genuine stupidity seems a virulent strain of anarchy that won't give up.  Repealing seatbelt laws and raising speed-limits for those with proof of Federal immigration status will supposedly thin the herd and give us back some breathing room.  A kid can buy a gun at eighteen, but not a beer.  Everyday brings progress, it's just difficult sometimes to guess the end-game.

     Columnist George Will recently phoned home a personal theory that our modern liberalism started with Kennedy as if somehow historians neglected the start of The Peace Corp, the pledge to land on the Moon, and the commitment to Civil Rights.  Good Will did include an odd mention that Jackie was disappointed the assassin was a communist and not an anti-Civil Rights activist...  I've enjoyed George Will in the past (he's the second-cousin of a sister-in-law), but as he's leaving ABC for FOX NEWS and it seems he's trading insightful reasoning for obvious blather.  Kennedy gave rise to the '60s (as documented in AMC's Mad Men) and its movement of progressive liberalism remains politically active, culturally dynamic, and still the easiest oversimplified example of Us v. Them, Freaks v. Jocks, Long v. Short hair, Marvel v. D.C. Comics, or with plain-speak, those who kiss ass as a sensual art and those that perved an orgy of special interest groups.  Okay, cosplay sounds interesting, but acting like robotic "Stepford" Republicans has been embarrassing beyond the questions we ask in Chapel Perilous.  Too often of late when we rhetorically ask is so-and-so for real, the answer is ...yeah, some folks are seriously that stupid.  Hating progressive liberalism seems more popular with a large percentage of our population than ever before.  We must be doing something correct...

     We're all familiar with the change we can believe in, spend, and perhaps be proud of, but true change is wicked slow and spans generations.  I can't pretend to know the thoughts of some ancient Celtic relative who faced the Romans a couple of thousand years ago, but that Irish immigrant who worked on the Eire Canal 190 years ago, whose family went on to settle in the Dakota Territory, I can well share his hope and appreciation for the chance for work in this big, beautiful country.  Of course, some things are changing all the time and employment in many areas is worse than it's ever been.  I lack the far-vision and can't imagine decades or centuries from now.   It'll be difficult, as these things go, and I can only toss off a wish there's some fun along the way!

     Siriusly, the plague of Hyper-Conservative Republican Tea-Bagging jerks that roam this land are more entrenched than AMC's The Walking Dead and will surely take longer than several seasons to defeat, control, or 'cure'.  Madame Clinton should start throwing back the single-malts now to prepare for the stupidity that will surely come should she seek and gain the presidency.  It will be epic stupidity; unavoidable as day follows night.  We've always lived with dangerous factionalism both benign and viscous.  If anything, today is just more of the same.  The Miley Boo Boo mundanity of Bizarro World would see an extension of Reagan's insistence that ketchup be classified as a vegetable and apply the new taxes generated from legal marijuana to launch creation science workshops and theme-parks.  Actually, we're already there...  Yeah, it's going to stay bumpy for a while yet.

     I'm reminded of some of the verbal backlash to the Punctuated Equilibrium theory in evolutionary biology that paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould received.  Douchey Richard Dawkins and His Whole-Ness Daniel Dennet got upset at the publicity, literary critics complained Gould was too clever of a rhetorical writer to be trusted with hard science, and despite all the hot air and wind, current assessments side with Eldrege and Gould's contention that much of evolution is static with subtle and gradual change, add a surprise little dollop of new and different, then back to gradual change.  Punctuated evolution must involve extreme changes in environment and the individual organism or species.  I balk at a cultural or societal comparison with catastrophe or war as despite the horrors of recent centuries we haven't really changed that much...  Now, I'm “reminded” of the possible comparison to punctuated evolution, but I'm content to take comfort in the subtle and gradual change which slowly occurs and is oh, so very necessary.

     We've seen the end of AMC's Breaking Bad, and much like the Tea-sippin' GOP supporters of the recent government shutdown, we can't in all honesty posit a description of “anti-hero” for either Walter White or the Republicans.  'Monster', from the Latin monstrum (< moneo – to warn), fits better, as fiction joins fact in expressing exemplary bad and stupid behavior.  Not 'supernatural' or 'unnatural', but an extreme anti-humanism at once selfish, sad, and sick, yet part of the process of change.  Perhaps in Sung Jin Hong's forthcoming opera based on Breaking Bad there will be an elephant or three on-stage.

[Note: No monies or gratuities were imparted by AMC for mentions in this column, as I'm still miffed they cancelled The Killing series.]

Remembering when tea was refreshing,

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