As some of you know because your gift helped us do it (Thank you. No, we’re not broke, we’re just trying to support two young men in very long courses of study, and in he case of one we were informed we’re going to bear the full cost of tuition until and unless he gets an internship) we went to a hotel in center-Denver for the weekend. Mind you, we live less than half an hour away in the burbs, but if I’m home, I’m always cleaning/cooking/trying to figure out how to FINALLY get cat pee out of the carpet (the previous owners’ cats had spots, and you know what that did once our cats came in) etc. There’s a million things that need doing, and usually I can’t stop myself doing them, not even to write for 10 hours a day, (which I need to. This month has been very bad for various reasons not for a public forum) and I love writing. It’s harder to stop myself working when it’s “just” my birthday and I’m supposed to relax.
So we went up to a hotel on a romance package, which meant champagne and strawberries the night of my birthday and breakfast in the room in the morning. Only it didn’t work out exactly that way, but more on that in a moment.
We took advantage of “two twenty year olds coming in on a romance package is to be expected; two people in their mid fifties is endearing” or rather we didn’t, but they gathered it was my birthday, plus the romance package, so they gave us a top floor room, with a panoramic view of downtown Denver.
It was glorious and mostly we sat/lay around reading/talking/etc (well, we ain’t dead yet.) We also went to the zoo, the Natural history museum and the botanic gardens, so we got in a bit of walking, and we went to our favorite “hole in the wall” grill.
It was very nice, and no complaints. The one small thing marring it is that the only way to order the in-room breakfast was via the TV which had a connection to the kitchen, or something, so we had to go down to the buffet.
But because we’d paid for in room breakfast, we first had a guy come in to our room, to try to fix it.
I could resent that half hour, I could. Except it made me realize how far off “normal” people we are, and how strange normal people can get given our haphazard system of education.
The man wasn’t stupid, and he wasn’t even uneducated. He had been a hardware technician for a computer firm before the tech implosion.
However, in the half hour, he suggested at least five new “there ought to be a law” the only relatively valid one (relatively valid, because it can lead to physical crimes against innocents, though there are psychologists who dispute that, and very valid against that generated from minors, but not valid against CGI. Eh. Just because I find something despicable, it doesn’t mean a law against it makes sense or is enforceable) was “people shouldn’t be able to watch child porn on the computer.” And we couldn’t convince him that law already existed.
Among other ideas he vented the idea that we all should have a… electronic signal on our thumbs that we use when we start any computer, so the government would know everything we were doing online.
He also told us that if we were sure we were good, we had nothing to fear from such a code.
And just as I was sitting there in shocked horror, he then let it slip that he thought our government controlled our net access as much as China does (!) and that this was why he couldn’t find any information on how to make gold or diamonds online.
Needless to say, ladies, gentlemen and echidnae, that’s when he walked into the upcoming Dyce mystery as “the last alchemist.”
However the combination of believing you could make gold “in your garage” if the government just stopped blocking your access (and when we told him that was impossible he gave us that smart-fool look of “yeah, that’s what you’d say”)and wanting the government to have a lot more power to control you seems insane. It is, of course.
But both ideas are very old, and a cherished part of the human psyche. The first is that you can have something for nothing and that you’re so clever no one else has figured out — throughout history — how to do this, but you, you will use this “one clever hack” and set world financial markets on its ear. And it combines with the conspiracy theory: the urge to believe someone REALLY is controlling everything not even necessarily for our own good.
They both of course merge well with what I call “the special few” theory: the special few who can make gold, or achieve enlightenment through drugs, or read ancient Sanskrit the first time you see it, or whatever, which make you special, even when you’re not.
The truth is, it’s less frightening to believe that someone — even an enemy — makes everything happen “for a reason” because then there’s rhyme and reason in the universe and someone is “in charge” (anyone remember the pink gentleman who kept asking us who controls society?) If someone is in charge, you can overturn them and it can be you. And then you can eliminate “evil” (whatever your definition) and bring about paradise.
Of course it’s not like that. The world is a chaotic system; society is a chaotic system; we, ourselves are chaotic systems. That which brings great benefit can often bring evil, and our greatest qualities can be used against ourselves.
Sure there are little conspiracy theories among semi-closed professions (jornolist!) but a vast conspiracy theory? Our government controlling all our communications? Bah, even China doesn’t have perfect control, and they have culture on the side of the oppressors.
The world is a dangerous place, though sometimes liberty and prosperity flourish.
Go out there and make more of both. (The last alchemist notwithstanding.)