16 July 2017

Unreliable Narrators Making Sausages in The Jungle

This platter of uneven link sausages is about unreliable narrators — or, more likely, just the wrong narrators.

  • First up, there's yet another instance of an arrogant entitled asshole speaking primarily for interests that are not — and can never be — registered voters. Parts of his griping make sense on the surface, but one must look carefully at the undisclosed premise:

    "The United States of America has to start to focus on policy which is good for all Americans, and that is infrastructure, regulation, taxation, education," Dimon said. "Why you guys don’t write about it every day is completely beyond me. And, like, who cares about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June? I mean, seriously."

    Hugh Son, "Dimon Says Being an American Abroad Is 'Almost an Embarrassment'," Bloomberg (14 Jul 2017/0641EDT).

    Consider for a moment that at least according to public biographical sketches that don't appear to have been refuted anywhere, neither Dimon nor his immediate ancestors (nor, for that matter, any member of his immediate family) has ever stepped outside the world of investment banking in his lifetime. That is, his experience is entirely as a next-quarterly-report-oriented "steward" of other peoples' money. And this reveals at least part of that undisclosed premise: That the further passive accumulation of wealth and capital by and on behalf of those who've previously accumulated it — disproportionately, and perhaps primarily when considering who actually gives it voice, by inheritance founded on whose family got "there" first, lawfully or otherwise — leads inexorably to all that "is good for all Americans."


    Perhaps looking at the history of his own bank (and other banks at which he's worked) regarding the nineteenth-century slave trade, arms dealing, and so on might have been relevant to helping determine what "is good for all Americans." His list, though, displays an inherent bias in favor of capital accumulation without regard to the source of that capital, the methods of accumulation, or the later deployment of that capital. It's not that this is never a valid position (at least in consideration and the abstract), but that it's never the only valid position. It simply cannot be stated as fact.

    Some day, someone who has even a basic, nonmathematical understanding of thermodynamics is going to rise to a position to comment on Society from a perch endowed with the patina of economic success. And then maybe he or she will be able to understand — even if dimly and incompletely — an even moderately mathematically based (as in "basic undergraduate chemical engineering/physical chemistry/molecular biology") explanation of how the universe has long ago disproven that premise. Not this time, though: Apparently, rising to the top at a major bank, getting fired, and then rising to the top at another one is adequate understanding of things that banks "never get involved in" but that make post-Napoleonic banks possible in the first place. (And we'll leave the history of benefitting from unlawful monopolies in both chains of banks for this particular speaker for another time…)

  • And then there's the intersection between Dimon's drivel and the purported "tax reform" movement endorsed by the Drumpf administration (for whatever value the current proposal(s) on the table have). Dimon's speech — and so, so many speeches, papers, and other pontifications coming from both the Drumpf Administration and the Heffalumps in general — claims that the US tax burden on corporations is excessive. Consider for a moment that places where the "tax burden" is less all too often increases total "government costs" by
    (a) not providing realistic government services necessary to a corporation, such as a working law-enforcement-and-courts system that ends up requiring a corporation with significant assets to either pay through the nose for insurance or hire a private army (or at least battalion) for internal security and/or
    (b) increased bribes to government officials to make up for their lower salaries.

    The major "studies" being bandied about concerning comparative corporate tax burden at best minimize (a) and completely ignore (b)…

  • {written preannouncement} If any character in all of fiction is inherently gender- (and race-, and probably even species-!) fluid, it's Doctor Who. One cannot even argue that the character is inherently "dominated by the social mores of upbringing as a male," since "as a male" seems to have so little connection to "Timelord" in the first place… and is certainly attenuated by the thirteenth complete-body replacement (more realistically, if "male" has any relevance here despite being used by A Certain Bigoted Subset as a touchstone, at latest by the eighth complete-body replacement)! Those who are not gender-fluid, though, are management "responsible" for commercially exploiting the Doctor, virtually all of whom have a Y chromosome. And so… {written postannouncement} the male showrunners and male hierarchy approved as the new Doctor Who a female secondary-character actor brought over from the showrunner's prior (uneven) series. I predict internet shitstorms for a week, followed by occasional rumblings until the three weeks prior to the scheduled in-role unveiling at the end of the year. The shitstorms are going to come from all sides, because almost everyone involved thinks they own the whole thing, ranging from subsets of fandom to marketing dorks. And none of it will focus on gender or other measures of diversity in the writing rooms, or in production, or anywhere else offscreen… but we can safely ignore the man (it's almost always a man) behind the curtain.
  • Speaking of fictional characters, how 'bout those press briefings? Does anyone actually recognize any of the speakers (or even subjects) as being anything other than fictional characters? And would things be better otherwise?