Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Morning's Meditation: Energy Slaves

OK, so here I am, reducing the overall entropy in "chaos manor" (an allusion -- this blog is full of 'em), which includes vacuuming (I have this story about the time these Kirby people showed up and tried to sell me one, but I'll save it for later), and meditating on Bucky Fuller's concept of "energy slaves." Instead of using imaginary horses as a unit of power (at one time a good analogy, but growing remote), Bucky thought in terms of imaginary humans, and how many it'd take to screw in a light bulb or complete other energy-consuming tasks.

Like, you hear these slogans, like Seven Billion Billionaires (an upcoming title I believe), and think, "oh Bucky, how could you be so naïve?" Clearly we don't have enough gold to give everyone their own stash of bricks, and those giant Rockwell International machines @ would burn out before we could ever keep up with all the inflation this'd create (maybe they've already been replaced -- I'm not fully up to speed on Treasury business). So, Bucky, how could you really mean anything by such silliness? Fuller's answer was simple, essentially the same one he gave in Fortune: energy slaves.

The realistic "gold standard" by which to measure living standards is not in terms of the periodic table element Au, but in terms of today's compared with yesterday's. Like, we were touring in the USSR that time, and maybe thinking the standards weren't all that good. But that's not how the Russians saw it. They were still remembering WWII, which so many Americans experienced only vicariously. From the Russian perspective, what counted was security, and now, at long last, they had some. Sure, the Cold War was unsettling, but Apollo-Soyuz proved that mir was just around the corner. By now, moscuvites have their own monorail (line M1) -- pretty cool.

So, how many energy slaves does the average American have at her disposal? You may immediately think "vacuum cleaner" (like I have this nifty bagless Bissell, with a separable suck unit), flash on other household appliances. Yeah that's part of it, sure. But there's more. Think Google. Think NNTP, FTP, SMTP, HTTP, ICMP... all sitting atop TCP/IP. How many energy slaves is that? (I know: you have no clue).

Think of it this way: you're a top information harvester and problem solver for the King of England, circa the time of George III. If you'd had Google then, what kind of advantages over your non-Googling enemies do you think you'd have had? Couldn't you have just slaughtered those obstreperous Americans? OK, dumb question. The whole idea makes no sense. I got it. But still: you get my point, yes? You're a goddamn King of the Hill (or Queen, or choose a title). At my beck and call, at the touch of a mouse, I've got a veritable army of energy slaves going about my business, 24/7 365/365. The Wizard of Oz never had it so good, let alone Mickey, who got in over his head (yes, another allusion -- treat yourself: see Fantasia if you've never, or even if you have (my cell's ringtone is Night on Bald Mountain by the way)).

Last thought: so how do I get away with being this ultra-high- powered CEO of the Global Data Corporation if I spend my days in some nondescript battleship-gray chaos manor, vacuuming my own floors? Don't I at least need to have servants? There you go again, thinking like some 20th century numbskull (they had an excuse back then -- it was the 20th century). Look, my family has had household help, great individuals, and we're still in touch with Flora & Victoria to this day (we drove north to visit Victoria in Canada in 2003); but when it comes to living high and mighty, all I really need is energy, intelligently channeled. Bonneville takes care of that, and Qwest, and like that. I capitalize in business by leveraging what many ordinary Americans already have at their disposal. I just happen to take fuller advantage of the assets I'm given. Like, I don't just know how to click a mouse, I know how to write a mouse driver (OK, I lied, but I do know a lot of tricks -- I'm a native to this brave new America, let's just say).

And I'm not just talking about the Internet (although hypertext is the answer to so many of my prayers). I've got all these VCRs (some queued to tape: viewed Rushing on NOW just now), radios, DVD players, Netflix... I've got equipment like Sir Walter Raleigh would have killed for (unless magic really worked as advertised back then).

PS: I think my BizMo should have that cosmic fish logo stuck on it with maybe no others as prominent, because through someone who knows someone, we're all connected, and designed to advantage one another, and that wisdom is simply integral to the native American psyche (we call it basic intelligence -- the kind of thing you learned in kindergarten).