Dispatches, September ’16

9.10.16

[Due to a recent legal settlement, the Editorial Board is now required to publish “opposing viewpoints” in order to maintain a “fair, balanced, and objective” atmosphere. To that end, we have arranged for Mr. O’Connell to have a brief sabbatical whilst we publish a series we have decided to call “The Divergence.” The first entry in this series was written by a man known only as Augustus, who, due to outstanding international warrants, submitted this piece through a complex system of dead drops. Needless to say, the opinions presented below are not shared by Mr. Hardy, the Editorial Board, or any right-thinking person. –The Editors]

Let’s consider a hypothetical.

Someone approaches you and offers you twenty bags of heavy groceries. You are allowed to keep as much as you can carry, but you lose anything you drop. What do you do?

The obvious answer is to take only the bags that are the most useful to you. This requires leaving some behind, of course, so it might not be an easy decision, but you know that if you take too much, you risk losing it all. Everyone would agree on this. A child would agree on this.

So why is it the policy of governments all over the Western world to try and save everyone, despite the obvious fact that doing so will drag everyone else down? It would be much better, from a community standpoint, and much better for the health of the nation, if we were to focus our energies, not on all citizens, regardless of what they can contribute, but on only those men and women who had the capacity to help the tribe thrive and grow strong.

As an example: in 2015, there were 83,170 “chronically homeless” people in the United States[1]. These are not people who are “down on their luck.” These are not people who are going through “some hard times.” These are people who are perpetually on our streets, on our benches, on our sidewalks, adding nothing to our tribe, draining our resources. We spent $4.7 billion on homelessness in 2013[2], and I’m no mathematician, but I can tell you that .380 ACP rounds are about 0.33 USD apiece. $27,820 doesn’t seem like too high a price to pay to clean up our streets. And that’s job creation right there, too! We need gravediggers! People to haul bodies! People to go through pockets and shopping carts to melt down precious metals and try to get something, anything back from these leeches that have been gnawing at Lady Liberty’s teats for so long.

If I walked into the hallowed halls of (((Congress))) and told them I could solve chronic homelessness for $28,000, I’d get a medal. I’d get a Nobel Prize! But when you get into the particulars, people get nervous. It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. You make an effort to avoid looking at a bag lady on the side of the road. You complain about how high your taxes are. But when somebody proposes a real, permanent solution, all of a sudden, “they’ve got rights” or “they’re humans too.”

We can’t save everybody in this country. We need to come to terms with that before it’s too late.

9.11.16

[This is a continuation of our court-mandated series, “The Divergence,” written by the man known only as Augustus. –The Editors]

Half measures do not lead to half solutions, they lead to whole failures.

We see this time and time and time and time again, all over the world, in our foreign policy, in our economic efforts. We try to be nice and effective at the same time, so we compromise. But moderation is mediocrity.

We need to decide what goals we want to accomplish, then embrace whatever we need to make that happen. That means commitment. That means leaning in to what we know needs to be done, and to hell with opinion, to hell with artificially constructed morality. What we call “ethics” are just a holdover of watered down Enlightenment thought, notions of right and wrong that are no more applicable to the modern world as the geocentric model of the solar system.

If we see a problem, we should be able to solve it, quickly, whatever it is. I already proposed a solution to chronic homelessness. That’s the type of resolution we need, swift, uncompromising, unapologetic. We need a system that will allow people to do what must be done.

Problems are often complex, but the solutions don’t need to be. If a warlord in Somalia is killing people, we don’t need to assemble a task force to examine our options. We don’t need to carefully measure out how many Rangers we’ll send in to balance out the right number of (((UN))) peacekeepers. In truth, there should only be two choices: go in hard, or don’t go in at all. If you put boots on the ground with anything less than complete, overwhelming, and brutal force, you are doing a disservice to the men and women in uniform you are supposed to be leading. Better to do nothing than to do it halfway.

I can’t understand why this would be a controversial opinion. No doctor would cut out half of a tumor. No lawyer would attempt to defend half of his client’s actions. No architect would design load-bearing supports for half his buildings. Yet somewhere along the line, we the people decided that it was okay to solve disputes with half of the rockets we’d normally use, that half of our diplomacy was sufficient, that compromise was adequate policy.

This is the age of compromise. Not coincidentally, it is the age of a slide towards decadence and decay. We can keep trying to do things halfway, and we won’t get anything out of it except for whole death. We’ll start winning when we start committing to bold action, and not before.   

9.12.16

[This is a continuation of our court-mandated series, “The Divergence,” written by the man known only as Augustus. –The Editors]

Do men have rights?

Obviously, yes. Of course. The Founding Fathers enshrined those in the Constitution, as did Smith before him. All of the greats—Friedman, Hayek, Nietzsche—they recognize that men have a duty to create, build, thrive, and possess.

But here’s the real question: do we have those rights because of something inherent in ourselves? Do we have rights that are greater than the Laws of Man, a Law of Nature, if you will, that transcends human authority? Or have we, as a species, recognized that if we are going to make this whole grand tribal experiment work, we’re going to have to have rules, and treating everyone as if they have freedom of speech, for example, seems to be the best way to do that?

To put it another way, we know that violating rights leads to bad outcomes. Any given time a tyrant starts stomping on necks, there is a net loss for society. The little gears start to grind, then eventually seize, and the community crumbles. So which came first? Does the tribe dis-integrate because we turned our back on universal principles? Or did we decide that these “universal principles” were handy rules of thumb to keep everything operating smoothly?

Look at Black Lives Matter. We assume that everyone has a right to not be executed by the police. But is that because, as they say, their lives matter, or because the erosion of trust between a community and the law enforcement is a bad outcome for society?

They are so closely linked (violating rights leads to bad outcomes in almost every situation) that it’s largely irrelevant to debate which came first. The end result is the same. And we can use this relationship in a great many discussions. In any situation where it is clear that there is a bad outcome resulting from an action, the morality of the action is immaterial. Torture, for example—it doesn’t work. It provides inoperable intelligence. There is no good outcome to torture, so we don’t even need to debate it. Whether or not it is moral or immoral to torture someone for information doesn’t enter in to the equation; since it doesn’t work, we shouldn’t do it, whether it is right or wrong.

I oppose the death penalty for the same reason. Not because I believe it is immoral to execute criminals, but because, aside from the increased expense, there is no data that supports the idea that the death penalty works as a deterrent. It doesn’t work. There is no good outcome.

Questions of universal rights only become necessary when there is a possibility of a good outcome. We’ll discuss that tomorrow.

9.13.16

[Augustus continues his series “The Divergence.” We would like to remind our readers that this is a court-mandated piece, and that the views of Augustus are not shared by any members of the editorial board. –The Editors.]

Yesterday, we discussed the relationship between universal rights and societal outcomes, specifically the notion that we don’t have to ask whether or not men have a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness because of something in their souls or because we have decided life works better if we believe it to be so. Violating these rights leads to bad outcomes in so many cases, that they might as well be handed down by God.

We also covered the idea that if any action led to an unquestionable bad outcome, we didn’t need to discuss the morality of the action. But what happens if an immoral action, that is, an action that violates universal rights, leads to good outcomes?

Executing unarmed black citizens in the United States is impractical, as it leads to bad outcomes with no moral justification. But what about the thousands of killings in the Philippines? We naturally condemn any deaths without due process, but what if the end result is, in fact, lower crime and a happier, more productive citizenry? We assume that a leader who murders his own people will naturally become a tyrant, and will destroy and quality of life his citizens might have enjoyed. But that’s a little presumptuous, isn’t it? What if in six years, when Duterte’s term is up, the Philippines is in better shape than it’s ever been in?

There’s also an element of the Universal Experience Fallacy here. It’s easy for us to condemn the treatment of prisoners in another country. Setting aside our own often-reprehensible practices, we need to recognize that not every country has the money, the will, or the space to maintain large prison populations. In that case, don’t we need to start considering the idea that maybe we need to start performing a few thousand extrajudicial killings to keep the streets clean? If there is the possibility of a good outcome, we have a responsibility to weigh the good and the bad against one another.

It would be like learning that torture actually did provide actionable intelligence. If that was the case, then we would be faced with the choice of deciding whether or not the violation of universal rights was justified.

Here’s the thing: if it’s justified once, then the rights aren’t universal, are they? If it’s possible to justify violating a universal principle once, then you can do it every time.

That’s why I say we have to look at the tribe. We’ve been putting rules down on stone tablets for centuries, handy heuristics for keeping our camps at peak efficiency. But we have to realize that they only reason we have commandments is because we need some kind of order if we’re going to live together. People over the years have gotten way too caught up in the specifics, when they should have been paying attention to the order part of it.

All that matters is the well-being of the tribe. If that is best preserved by maintaining freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, then all is well. But if the well-being of the tribe depends on a few thousand bullets in the backs of a few thousand heads, then we need to be ready to throw the stone tablets out the window.

9.15.16

Well, let’s get that guy out of here.

Augustus, who I happen to know is a frankly reprehensible man, considers himself an intellectual and an iconoclast. True story: I once hit him with my car after a night of snorting crushed painkillers off a knife blade with my Spiritual Advisor, the Rt. Rev. Jack Roller. Augustus was on the ground, groaning in pain, and the Reverend and I considered our next move.

“Should we call someone?” he asked.

“Never,” I replied. “This is what the swine deserves.”

The Reverend spoke some holy words over the sprawled figure, sprinkled some holy water[3] over his body, and then we were off.

The point being that Augustus believes himself and his kind to be superior to men like me—but I’m not the one who limps when it gets cold.

The News In Politics has melted into a kind of beige sludge. It’s a smoothie, easily digestible, nothing to chew. It’s all sort of blended into a norm, which is depressing. There is a general sense that there’s no good outcome, that the national conversation has become so toxic that whatever happens next is going to be worse. At this point, the Global Economic Supercollapse almost seems like a vacation. At least then we wouldn’t see any political ads.

I don’t welcome the Global Economic Supercollapse. I am quite fond of most of the amenities of Western culture—particularly indoor plumbing and NPR. It’s just that I’m not a fan of just waiting around. If it’s going to happen, let it happen.

Retraction: if it’s going to happen, let it happen in about five or six years. Enough time for me to finish the Black Rifle, get the hives going, and dig a well.

9.16.16

It was not a complex plan. Destroy all east-west telegraph lines at Carson City. Burn San Francisco. Siege Sacramento. Establish the Nation of Helsingard. Convert dissidents into Autosoldats. Repel inevitable American attacks. Expand east. Complete second war zeppelin and attack Atlantic states. Conquer North America. –Baron Heinrich von Helsingard

I admire Helsingard’s ambition, if not his methods, and even with those I cannot find much fault. There’s a purity to his vision of world domination that’s greater than ideology. Helsingard will murder you and place your children’s brains in a robot body, but it’s not because you’re a Jew—it’s because he’s a crazy person who thinks he should control all of humanity, now and forever, amen.

Naturally, I do not condone murder, nor do I condone placing the brains of children, or anyone for that matter, into the unfeeling shell of a murderbot. But I do appreciate the solid construction of his plan. It’s specific without being so detailed there’s no room for improvisation and adaptation; it’s clear; there are no deviations away from the end goal. It reminds me of the life strategy developed by my cousin, before he ran away to Portland to become a drug dealer.

I have taken it as a point of pride, for several years now, that I do not plan ahead, and instead allow the future to be somewhat liquid. For the past 26 years, that’s been a decent, if occasionally frustrating, way to live my life. But increasingly, I’m recognizing that it is impractical. Having something to work for isn’t a bad thing. Thus:

It is not a complex plan.

Step One: Bring on additional temporary employees on a contract basis. Expand client list.

Step Two: Purchase additional equipment and offer services beyond housekeeping. Simultaneously begin courses in cybersecurity.

Step Three: In February, assess status: either sell business (and use profits for purchase of land) or bring on permanent employees.

Step Four: Every six months, return to Step Three.

Step Five: Cybersecurity preparations are running in parallel; at completion, return to Step Three.

Step Six: After sale of business, hike Appalachian Trail.

Step Seven: Return to civilization to start new enterprise.

Step Eight: Conquer North America.

9.16.16

This is not a suicide note[4].

I say that mainly solely because I’m pretty sure the only people who are ever going to read this are my parents, so if I’m found dead in front of my computer, know that I didn’t do it myself.

The facts are these:

It’s 18:56 in San Francisco right now. I’m not there, of course—it’s almost 2200 in Macon, Georgia. I’m drinking coffee that’s worth more than the cream liqueur I’ve dumped in it, and I’ve just finished the last episode of the last season of Community. #andamovie all you want, guys. You’re done.

I considered titling this entry “I Wish You Luck, Joel McHale,” and even though I didn’t, I do. It’s rare you see a man that handsome get relegated to the role of character actor, let alone the conflicted star.

Don’t worry, Jeff. I don’t want to leave either.

On a slightly different note, I decided, as I drove away from a client’s home, that I wanted to live for 50[5] more years, after which I don’t care. This has nothing to do with the sublime melancholy that has accompanied the ending of Community, which itself is almost identical to the sublime melancholy that accompanied the end of Freaks and Geeks, and the ongoing, torturous sputtering-out that is the conclusion of Homestar Runner.

I got to see a concert featuring the Chapmans, and Missy Palmer, and Limozeen, and sloshy, and the whole cast when I was in Atlanta for the latest Dragon*Con. A place called Venkman’s, I believe. The young lady let Ben and me in, despite the fact that we had no tickets. A wonderful show. I wore my Strong Bad mask, and I believe Mike Chapman squeezed me on the shoulder. But Ben was there, and I was too cowardly to attempt to go backstage and get a photo. At the very least, an audio recording of the Thnikkaman saying “Yeah, get a job, kid!” to my recently-unemployed brother.

Regrets, mistakes. Memories made. Who would have known how bittersweet this could taste?

Whatever Adele meant, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dan Harmon. For McHale and the rest, too. Six years of metanarrative brilliance, and now it’s…gone. Dust, wind, dude.

In case the density of my pop culture references has not made it clear, I am approaching a glorious state of drunkenness, and I mostly just wanted to jot down the thoughts that have thrust out of the hard crust of my psyche like resilient dandelions.

Good luck, Joel McHale. And Dan Harmon, you crazy Aspergarian drunk son-of-a-bitch—you’re the reason I wrote the script[6].

9.17.16

“Write drunk, edit sober” has never worked for me. Last night was not an exception—just look at it. Rambling nonsense. Gibberish.

Day Two of the Great Void—Google Chrome is still nonfunctional. I uninstalled it, and now it won’t install, and that’s when I can get Internet Explorer functioning, which right now seems like an impossibility. I think all of my lifelines are being severed. Someone is cutting off my methods of communication, one at a time. Eventually this laptop will be nothing but a dim plastic brick, and I’ll be bashing the keys in mute, simian frustration.

If that’s true, then I’m under attack by forces unknown. It’s a perplexing avenue of assault, though. I shall remain vigilant.

Well glory be, bloodbag. Looks like the alternate installer is working. Too early to be optimistic, of course.

9.23.16

Where has the year gone? It seems like just yesterday I was scribbling this record down, trying to keep track of the protests.

Oh, wait—that was yesterday.

Tulsa seems quieter than Charlotte right now, which looks a little bit like an occupied territory[7]. Part of that, I’m sure, has to do with the fact that the cop in Tulsa got charged with manslaughter—we’ll see what the jury has to say about that. It’s a little bit rougher in North Carolina, though, as if they haven’t had enough trouble lately. I wonder if the NCAA will decide to come back, as a show of solidarity?

Unlikely, even before Justin Carr died. According to the AJC, they were pouring water on the street where he was shot, to “consecrate the ground” where he fell. This is getting heavy, fast—we’re seeing magic on the streets. This is a problem for several reasons, not the least of which is that spells are harder to criminalize than firearms and weed.

Well, the comic[8] is live, so we’ll see what comes of that. And I’ve plugged into the Feed again (@AtomicSleepwalk was somehow still available), so I’ll either wither and die or gain massive fame and followers. I doubt there’s any in between.

When did I become a grownup? I went from planning how to move into a cabin in the woods to trying to get a mortgage. I’m making plans for installing sinks. I’m researching the logistics of painting at least one room[9]. I’m trying to find an employee so I can expand my small business. I’m calling my housekeeping operation a “small business.” When did this happen?

More broadly, when did I become this chill? I mean, not “chill” chill, but seriously—I was an insufferable, twitchy kid. Not The Worst, you understand, but I’m sure I was tough to be around. I remember my father—the most decent man I know—snapping at me, never cruelly, but in ways that, looking back, make it obvious I was trying his patience. Somewhere along the line, I became a respectable young man. When did that happen? What was the impetus? The motive factor? I remember once accompanying my father to the Volvo dealership for routine maintenance on my vehicle, and the gentleman in charge mentioned to my father that I had grown into a fine young man, something like that. I got the car, thirdhand by that point, when I was 16, so it had to be after that.

What was it about high school, aside from the near-nervous breakdown, that mellowed me so? It wasn’t the drugs—I had been on those for years by then.

I changed somewhere along the line. I don’t mind it, of course; I’m the best Rooster O’Connell alive, and I wouldn’t go back. But I would like to see the moment, if there was one.

Maybe I just realized it was time to act…well, not my age. Just time to act.

9.24.16

It might be easier, at this point, to make a note of days where there hasn’t been a high-profile shooting of some kind.

5 dead in Washington, by the last count. Suspect still at large.[10]

I’d rather not talk about that. I’d rather make a list of some kind. Categorize, catalog, impose some kind of order on the world. That’s why we make lists, after all. That’s why we do a lot of things, I think. Have I mentioned that before? Overeating, drugs, all the addictions, all of it is an attempt to prove that you’re living life on your terms, not on life’s. That’s why we prep. That’s why I prep, at least. A totem against the unknown.

9.25.16

So much has been lost.

I’m not talking about any of the jobs, any of the manufacturing opportunities that Teflon Don has assured us will come back from Mexico, no really, I promise. They won’t—it doesn’t matter what you do, the robots and the Mexicans aren’t going anywhere, and the jobs they took are never coming back.

I’m not talking about any type of American sense either; sense of dignity, sense of duty, sense of community, common sense. Those are gone too, and they might not come back, but at least there’s a small chance that they show up after this Hellection calms down. At least robots aren’t responsible for stealing those. Not too sure about the Mexicans, though.

No, it’s the Mojo Wire itself, whole pages gone from this document that I thought had been saved, preserved, petrified and fossilized for me to read later, basking in the glow of my literary brilliance. There was an entry on the 29th of August that made mention of this, but I am still finding holes, little bits of Used-To-Be-Theres, perceptible only by their absence.

Pompeii shadows. Hiroshima ghosts.

That’s all a very fancy way of saying I had transcribed a table of the ballistics of several proprietary rifle rounds. The .204, .357, and .416 Ruger, I believe, probably a few others.

Ctrl+S. Let’s not lose anything else.

[1] https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf

[2] https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/FY13_Budget_Fact_Sheet_final.pdf

[3] The Reverend actually had to use tequila, as neither of us had any water.

[4] Although if it was, I’d have good reason, because Google Chrome isn’t working, and I’m stuck using Internet Explorer like some G*ddamn caveman.

[5] And change—being 26, we’ll put the life expectancy at 77.

[6] Mr. O’Connell has written no script at this point, and would like the remind Mr. Harmon’s attorneys that his brother has Asperger’s Syndrome. –The Editors

[7] https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/qCzRAxlxhEBCK971eX7mjkxBlOkCO_fc5NrNkF4eB_a5CShgaFVaMp5kpZt2As1oW31b=s600

[8] http://bit.ly/2cLYLBa

[9] Like this, naturally.

[10] http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/23/us/washington-mall-shooting/index.html

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