Duck! and Gather

Archive for the ‘predictions’ Category

I started this blog in 2003. Short story is that I read two books (one of which was the Fourth Turning), and an idea popped into my head that America was going to collapse, and that the collapse would take the form of a civil war characterized as People vs. Corporations.

From that realization, I made a few “out there” predictions. Some actually came true. I even won a bet over one of them.

But over the past 8 years, I’ve been waiting and wondering. When would this war start? How would it start? Who would start it?

I knew it would be the children. In the essay to which I linked above I wrote:

The last kicker in the theory is youth. After twenty years or so, there’s a whole new crop of kids out there. And in America, it seems to be the youth who serve the function of kicking the lazy, sleeping cow awake. So as we look out to the youth of America today, we ask: Which of that sorry bunch is going to kick us all awake? And awake to what?

(Hey, before you go laughing at the Americans, just look at the rest of the world. At least we Americans go through profound changes every twenty years or so. The rest of the world stays stuck in ruts measured in centuries, not decades. Change and growth is the beauty and genius of America. America is the Grand Human Experiment.) [Note: I wrote the last paragraph in 2003. Long before the Arab Spring. “Ruts measured in centuries” are ending all over the world. Topic for another post.]

Not only did I know it would be the youth, but I guessed that they would “wage war” in a way never before seen in America:

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Let’s try starting this in Tweet-sized chunks:

  • Rethinking my duckandgather blog. Maybe we won’t have to “duck”.
  • Social media will save us from the need to duck, and history will end.
  • Social media will kill Google, and bring the Corporations to heel.
  • Social media is driven by we the People; not by management.
  • Nobody dies. Crisis averted. We all live happily ever after.

Yeah, Twitter is good for some stuff. But deep analysis ain’t among them.

Another way to start is the following: As part of my day job, I deeply analyze the social media landscape (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). Today, in the middle of that work, I had an epiphany: Could the emergence of this dynamic hearken the end of history as we know it?

Let’s start the analysis with my purpose in starting this blog back in late 2003. Basically, I had read two politically opposite books in 2003 — both of which seemed true to me. Assuming their truth, I looked for their intersection. And what I found in there was surprising to me. I found that these books seemed to be predicting that America was heading for an existential crisis, and that crisis would take the form People vs. Corporations.

With this thought in mind, I spun out a number of  bold predictions for George Bush’s second term. More than a few hit the mark.

Since Obama won in 2008 (as I predicted in 2006), I’ve been sort of holding my breath, waiting for the collapse. Well, not waiting passively. As I’ve mentioned previously, I live in the hills surrounding Silicon Valley and, with my wife, have created a reasonably self-sufficient life — one that could support us and a few others for a few years without having to go “down the hill” into the Valley.

Hey, I’d have refashioned my life in this way even if I hadn’t come to the “doomsday” ideas above. The fact is, I like chopping wood, raising vegetables, and purifying mountain spring water, to name a few regular practices of mine.

But you know what? Today, on June 8, 2010 — 7 years after I read those two books, drew my conclusions, and watched as history seemed to validate them — I’m reversing course. My epiphany is that Facebook and Twitter and their ilk will save us from ourselves.

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  • Comments Off on The Unknowability of the Future

Interesting how I coud have predicted much of general contours of the coming days, and yet have so little clue about just what these days hold for us. Maybe that’s why I like the Death Cab for Cutie song I cited in the last post.

As I noted, the lyrics of that song are about a California wildfire. If this was 1989 or 1999, the song would be about just that. But this is 2009. So the lyrics resonate as a foreshadowing of the coming days:

[T]he northern sky looked like the end of days; The end of days. A wake up call to a rented room, Sounded like an alarm of impending doom. To warn us it’s only a matter of time. Before we all burn. … We bought some wine and some paper cups, Near your daughter’s school when we picked her up. And drove to the cemetery on a hill, On a hill. And we watched the plumes paint the sky gray, And she laughed and danced through the field of graves.  There I knew it would be alright. …. But I couldn’t think there was anywhere I would have rather been: To watch it all burn away, To burn away. … The firemen worked in double shifts, With prayers for rain on their lips. And they knew it was only a matter of time.

Words that precisely capture the mood of the nation in this, our last Winter of “normalcy”. For awhile, at least.

But that’s about mood. There’s no details there. i.e. Exactly what is going to burn? What exactly will “burning” look like?

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Count my wife and I among the vast bulk of human-kind swept away and moved by the proceedings today in Washington, D.C. My wife, amidst her joy, noted that Michelle Obama’s wardrobe could have used some funky-ness.

I responded that Michelle, and Obama himself, had achieved the effect they were looking for. They were looking to create the impression that the transition from George and Laura to Barack and Michelle is a smooth, natural one. Nothing to alarm the villagers. Because if everyone really knew just how radical the transition is, chaos might ensue.

But today, in his 2,399 word inauguration speech, Obama finally spoke without fetters. He is not running for anything anymore. And he has no one to whom to answer anymore. From this day forward, he is speaking only to history. So his words today were truly meaningful.

In my last post, I said that these words equated to: “Duck! and Gather”. This post will dig deeper into those words to cull meaning. Here goes:

Duck!

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Read the transcript of Obama’s inaugural address.  Wonderful speech.  Powerful. 2,399 words.

Allow me to boil this speech down for you to just three words:

Duck! and Gather

As Bush leaves town, and Obama takes over, and the nation prepares for this joyous occasion, I thought I’d take this opportunity to pee on the parade just a little. 🙂 Maybe toss some dark clouds onto the horizon of these endless blue skies. Hey, somebody’s got to do it. Here is my simple, depressing thought:

Have you ever had an asshole neighbor? I mean, people you’d be better off just avoiding, but they live next door?

If so, you know that that is a problem. But it’s not the end of the world. I mean, you can build a higher fence, plant hedges and trees on that border, minimize your interactions, etc. Not optimal, to be sure. But at least manageable.

But then, what if a family member, who is living in your house, turns out to be an asshole? Now that is a problem. It’s an intolerable problem. It’s not manageable. It has to change, one way or another.

This all brings me to Bush and Obama. Bush is that asshole neighbor. Just ignore him and his ilk, and everything will be OK, albeit not optimal.

But Obama is family. He is One of Us. And therein lies the problem.

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… and all through the nation, not a heart wasn’t beating, without anxiety and foreboding.

It was in the late 20th century — specifically, 1946 to December 25, 2008 — that the cult known as “Retailia” (pr. re-TAIL-ia) flourished throughout the world. Especially within America.

Interestingly, the rise and fall of Retailia tracked almost exactly with the rise and fall of the American Empire. Although this Empire was the shortest in the history of all world empires known before it, no other empire before it enjoyed quite the reach that the ubiquitous and incandescent American one did.

I remember spending December 25, 1998 in New Delhi, India. New Dehli is about 99% Hindu, with the remaining 1% spread among Muslims, Buddhists, and the Christian underclass who clean the homes of the well-to-do Hindus.

As I walked through the central roundabouts of the city, I was amazed to see everywhere the markings of the American Retailia. It seemed that every store window boasted a picture of the Retailian talisman known in those days as “Santa Claus”.

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for the money has gone too far

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