Lucifer’s Hammer

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  1. A great read Ben , Over the weekend I had my “Tokyo Marathon” moment. For weeks I have wondered , what the hell is the endgame here. I watch the cities burn and word violence redefined to not include destruction of property , the entire media sings out of the EXACT same hymn book that what we are all watching is nonviolent it has been surreal.

    It was this weekend listening Lebron James talking about the NBA’s protest of cancelled games for “Social Justice” that caught my attention —-I was finally going to hear what the protesters wanted…other than defunding the police. He wanted the league to perform a voting drive and use its arenas as voting places , I presume to defeat Donald Trump—it hit me like a ton of bricks. All this coordination by the media the renfields of the party and the party itself , and the mayors of all these cities who have done nothing but cheerlead as their own cities burn—this is all about defeating Donald Trump in November. That’s it - nothing more nothing less.

    Why am I seeing this now? Police shootings have remained constant, the numbers by race have also been the same for a decade at least. The National media is devoting the lions share to these stories now because they are building a narrative that this is Donald Trumps America where “ The State” kills black people simply because they are black. The facts that none of these cops involved work for the Feds and almost all work for a Democratic mayor - those facts have no place in the narrative. We are all asked to give a hurumph to BLM and we do…and they do. None of this will do anything to help black lives —-they will damage the communities in a way that will take decades to recover. More on that later.

    Details of Breonna Taylor’s involvement in a drug ring in Louisville came out last week , a drug ring that deals crack and heroine in the minority community ,ruining hundreds of black lives and ending several more I am sure. Not surprisingly none of these details were picked up and covered in the national media. No protests for deaths of blacks killed by these overdoses or killed in these cities with murder rates up over 100% from last year…including truly innocent people and several small children as the police stop policing.

    I have not heard a single public service mention of complying with police demands and making sure they can see your hands at all time - cause following that simple rule will make sure 100% you will survive any encounter with law enforcement.

    I am taking steps to move my wealth management practice from the city to the burbs , in my call with management I found I am not the only one , far from it. I have floated the idea to clients in almost every call the past 2 weeks. To a person, my clients have said they are relieved because they did not want to come downtown for meetings and didn’t know how to ask if I would do a house call.

    Service industries downtown employ many of our inner city residents , they are closing by the dozen in Louisville and I believe we are in the first inning. The events of this summer are going to be devastating to our inner city community. The powers that be could care less as long as they win in November, you know something something eggs and something something omelettes. The Professional class will flee the urban area’s in droves and the service businesses that rely on them will close. Years later the media renfields will in unison claim it was because of Covid.

    Don’t even get me started on Trump , and you are right, he is just playing to his base and throwing more ammo at the powers that be on the other side because he believes it will drive more disgusted voters into his arms. We are being played , it is intentional, and the consequences are dire at every level.

  2. I’m worried we get our own version of The Troubles either way.

  3. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    Proverbs 11:29 He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind…

    Them that seeks division and war should spend some time watching Band of Brothers.

  4. Was intending to write a big long response to this that even included an excerpt from a poem — but, upon reflection, I am deeply conflicted and confused by our current moment, as I suspect many people are if they don’t have the armor of rigid ideology, so I’ve decided to note one thing only:

    I am so happy you used a specific historical analogy to make a point that was not the “US-as-Weimar” or “US-as-Roman Republic” — tropes that irritates me to an extreme degree.

  5. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    My first draft used that Proverbs quote instead of the Hosea “sow the wind, reap the whirlwind” quote. Great minds …

  6. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    It’s odd to me that the 1968 France analogy isn’t getting more play. For one thing, Charles de Gaulle was easily as weird as Donald Trump.

  7. This:

    ==> "Portland mayor Ted Wheeler, who refuses to defund the police in the way that Portland protesters mean the word (i.e. abolish), should resign. AND he should run in the special election called to replace him. AND the Portland protesters should put up their own candidate who will, in fact, defund the police to oblivion. Then vote. Let’s do this next week. Let’s see who the people of Portland put into office. Either the dog catches the car or the car runs over the dog. Either way, the story arc of this particular protest narrative ends there.

    We make it not fun by removing the thrill of the chase and the thrill of the fight – we contain the rioters and the night time looters – so that all that is left is the boredom of walking around and yelling into the wind all night. We accomplish this with numbers and curfews. We request the assistance of the National Guard – of course we request the assistance of the National Guard! – so that we have the sheer numbers of trained personnel to contain the bullshit looters and keep out the bullshit “militias”.
    That’s how we work our way through this.

    We accommodate protester voice through new elections/plebiscites, and we contain criminal tag-alongs with sheer numbers of trained public safety officers." <==

    Enough, let’s see if people really want to fully defund the police. Let’s see how popular zero police protection is as policy?

    What I’ve seen all along is that almost everyone agrees with the non-violent protests against the specific police actions we’ve witnessed on TV and the idea of police targeting blacks. Away from some fringe crazies, I haven’t heard any public official say otherwise - or anyone in my all-over-the-policial-map friends and relatives - not one.

    So great, we all agree that bad is bad. What I haven’t seen is, until “defund the police” took off, any specific policy response ideas. It’s been protest as identity and virtue signaling that spiraled into violence and, yes, death and destruction. And for that, sorry, you can hate me and think I’m a T supporter (I’m not), I blame mainly the left. But now everyone’s getting in on the fun - sigh.

    But still, what is the policy people want? Let’s have the first vote Ben suggests (and have it everywhere) - defund or not? Then, maybe, we can have more votes till we get to a reasonable response. I have my ideas, but they’re not important; what is important is that we find an answer within the system we have.

    I’m not sure I fully understand the process of Ben’s BITFD, but I kinda think he says we make the political parties irrelevant by not playing their game. So let’s not play their game of violence-in-the-street to get them votes; let force real votes on real issues to get answers.

  8. Side note, didn’t there use to be an edit button for these comment that allowed - for several minutes anyway - one to edit their comments? My above comment doesn’t make it clear where Ben’s quote stops (after “public safety officers” in bold) and my, less important, comments begin, but I can’t find an edit button to fix that.

  9. Seems like every week I read one of your pieces and say “this is Ben’s best yet”. It’s unusual to see a guy’s fastball keep getting better as the season progresses, but here we are.

  10. The party holding the constitutional right of legal violence has a consequent duty to “win” by “overwhelming force” if necessary. If the goal of the other party is to meet any violence with an escalation of violence, I fear how this “ends”.

    Endemic lawlessness and depravity has shown itself a sure way to provoke the wrath of God on a society.

  11. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Let me see if we can get an edit function into the comments, Mark. I have one available on the Admin console (and so you can always email me if there’s an urgent edit required), but I don’t think we’ve had an edit function in the regular commenting app. I will investigate!

  12. Thank you so much Ben. If you could, in my first comment, I wanted to make it clear where your quote ended and my comments begin out of respect for you and for clarity’s sake. And great freakin’ note today.

  13. Remind me Ben, how much did the Fed expand its balance sheet in response to the comet of Lucifer’s Hammer, and how much higher was the S&P 500 after the comet strike?

  14. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Haha! If memory serves, the Eccles Building was either engulfed in a sea of lava or submerged under a mile of ocean. Either way, the Fed needs to update its disaster recovery protocols for comet strike!

  15. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I’d like to think I was Nolan Ryan, but Sal “The Barber” Maglie is probably a better fit!

    Thanks for the kind words.

  16. Another verse comes to mind: “And if a house be divided against itself that house cannot stand.”

  17. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Plus I’d already made the Huey Long comp, so you’re running out of Trumplikes.

  18. Excellent work Ben. I’m not aware of any other source besides Epsilon Theory that can generate 1,000+ word posts at a 100% MUST READ rate. In particular, I appreciate how you keep drawing our attention to what’s NOT happening right now. There is no national drive to find creative ways to make in person education more viable. There is no national drive to make distance learning more engaging and effective. There is no national drive to offer schooling/care for households that cannot generate sufficient income & facilitate distance learning. There is no national drive to drastically improve the safety of in person voting. There is no national drive to drastically improve the reliability & faith in mail-in voting. And as you point out in this note, there is no full hearted national effort to diffuse the current civil unrest. Keep it up! And please help us find more levers to BITFD. There is no system patch that can rehabilitate the current political/financial/social order.

  19. Personally, I am not afraid that anyone will, at any time, run out of comparisons - no matter how tenuous.

    My current favorite is Louis XV: “a Donothing and Eatall” - whether or not the analogy truly holds in any way…

    Looking forward to the ET piece focusing on analogies of the early Tsars of Russia: “Ivan the Terrible - the Trump of his times? An Investigation into Passive Index Flows and Narrative Construction.”

    That is enough silliness from me, but in a serious way, the more narrow and precise the historical analogy is, I think the better.

  20. Avatar for tobinh tobinh says:

    Another good post. The way it began raised a flag. The post-apocalyptic world with IEDs is Iraq’s everyday. My wife is currently in post-ISIL territory working on our archaeology project. Tomorrow a member of the team goes to Kirkuk, where an IED just took out a police car. The ego telling various militias to BITFD is our every day. Ben’s comments on Ego helped me understand Hobbes’ brutalism. It never seemed viable a strategy, but of course this note shows how viable it can be in the short-term. Our goal in Iraq is to stop BITFD, so that the killing stops and the community can heal. We need the narrator.

    I appreciate Ben’s solution for the US, a form of reset election that functions as catharsis. However, at least short term, elections don’t solve anything here in Iraq. It is becoming clear to me that in as far as communities are disenfranchised, the reset election can never solve the problem. When elections simultaneously favor competition and favor national politics, this also disenfranchises local communities who are told what to be, rather than listened to.

    Now imagine that our archaeology team in Iraq needs not only the usual IRB ethics reviews, but also the permission of Cultural Heritage managers, militias, police, and the governor to even have a conversation with the community about archaeology. In such a situation, disengagement is the easiest path but of course it solves nothing. We are unarmed, so BITFD is not an option. Trigger strategies are an option (shut access to archaeology down rather than let ISIL blew it up), but not a viable long-term solution. We have to have a leap of faith to restart the game with a cooperation strategy.

  21. Several years ago, in the run up to 2016, I worked on a volunteer, web-based website with about 30 other people. As things got heated on the political front heading into mid-year, the ownership team was trying to figure out how to handle what was going to be a contentious election internally. There were plenty of calls to have no chatter in internal channels (email/Slack) about the election.

    We didn’t do that.

    We built a dedicated venue for people to talk about the election so it could be contained to one location, but still expressed so that the people, the participants could have their voice heard within the system, not repressed out of it. And then we didn’t allow conservation on the election outside of that locale. And I think this is analogous to what is recommended here.

    The answer is to encourage the participation through channels designed to allow for self-determination, and actually allowing that change to take place if so demanded. But also, it’s about preventing the forms of expression that do not seek a true change, but just want to watch the world burn.

    Create avenues for the will of the people to be freely and truly expressed, and then hold the line on this who do not actually wish for change but simply want to feel the rush of emotion attached to the moment.

  22. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Well put! Great solution for your company, and perfectly described for its broader implications.

  23. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    So right. The voice of Ego that makes young (and not-so-young) men fantasize about a Hobbesian war of all against all is entirely a first world luxury.

  24. Avatar for aa547 aa547 says:

    I’d feel more comfortable about using the National Guard if the local police and DHS Goonsquad hadn’t acted exactly like children getting to LARP their favorite video game.

  25. one group fights the power, one group IS the power.

    The violence, albeit distasteful, is finally generating true examination of the inequities in society. What should be happening is all of the downtrodden groups, those that have been left behind, poor white and black, should be coalescing behind a push for change. Instead, many of those that are in bad shape have thrown in with the group that has continued to oppress them.

  26. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    The violence is more than “distasteful”. It is more than counter-productive. It is an abject betrayal of the discipline and strength required to mount a successful campaign of resistance and social change.

  27. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Agree. Saving grace is that we all have news cameras in our pockets today, and their LARPing helps us construct a narrative that aids nonviolent social change.

  28. Great Work, Ben, hope you are feeling better these days.
    Lucifers’ Hammer! Niven was a neighbor of a client who left me his battered copy. Inspired me to get the How Things Work collection (not in my septic tank, btw).
    Highly recommend those who want to Be Prepared get a set.

  29. Avatar for bpatno bpatno says:

    You must vote this November. I do not agree with Burning systems down. I support the current Capitalistic and rights of the people with a restrictive government since government has killed more people in the World than any other system. We have a choice this November for restrictive government or government controls everything. If you think government cannot get more control then obviously you missed Zoom (ZM) going up 50% today and from 108 on April 7 to 453 today.

  30. What would make one think that the Narrator can overcome the Ego?

    What would make one think that the species that runs on “adrenaline and endorphins and the rush of cops and robbers” is going to subject itself to that which is not fun? 

    Has the old trend-follower (what’s the strategy’s basis?) come to see market participants (that is, man) as “rational”?

    Really? How do adrenaline and endorphins work?

  31. Today’s comet is sentient, adept at both provoking and prolonging conflict. Accommodation and containment would each require elites to act contrary to their interests, although you can bet that an escalation of the police state in the person of “sheer numbers of trained public safety officers” will be acceptable to them. What’s plan B?

  32. Very good points and well written. I just returned to MT from San Franciso. Spent 3 nights at the Mark Hopkins, the only main hotel open in the city. I was born there. It was an elegant, vibrant place. Today downtown is literally a shithole. In a 3/4 mile walk up Van Ness to CA street and back to the hotel I saw 3 piles of human feces. Bums came out of doorways like Zombies. Post Street, the main shopping street is about 1/4 boarded up to protect against rioters. About 1/3 of the stores are vacant. No one on the streets. Sure COVID is a big part but who would want to go there even after the disease blows over. I understand property values in the city are going down as they go up in the suburbs. Why would anyone commute to the city when none your clients are there. And why go there when zombie bums roam the streets and there are no police to protect you? Yes it will get better eventually but I doubt it will get great in the way it was. Basic civility is gone. I don’t see it matters who wins in Nov.

  33. As a guy with a garage full of motorcycles, you almost lost me with “motorcycle gang”, but then as I read on the “gang” started to look pretty good by comparison.

    I have been of the opinion for a long time that both major political parties were destroying themselves, and I have long desired for that to happen to create space for what comes next. I don’t have a crystal ball about timing, but the decay is irreversible.

  34. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Haha! I’ll ride in your motorcycle gang any day, Craig! And yes, the decay is irreversible. This is not a mean-reverting phenomenon.

  35. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Now that’s a great Larry Niven connection.

    And I misremembered the books as The Way Things Work (Macaulay’s excellent series) instead of, as you say, How Things Work. My father had the full set of How Things Work, and I’ve got them in my office now. I find them absolutely inspirational.

  36. Avatar for TyB TyB says:

    As always, I enjoyed reading this piece, and have thought of it frequently over the last 3 days. Only one portion concerned me, the snap election. It makes more sense to me in a parliamentary system, where no confidence votes can bring elections quickly. I worry about “rewarding” violence by triggering an election out-of-sequence. Behavior that is rewarded is encouraged, and I don’t want to encourage losers to see violence as a means to trigger an election and therefore a different outcome. I feel much better about, for example, a recall petition where one is provided. As Pres. Obama said, “Elections have consequences.” He didn’t say they were all good. And, in that vein, I believe some of the hyperbole that has followed Trump’s unfortunate election has helped justify the current round of violence. In my youth way, way back in the '80s, it felt like there was more of a sense of the loyal opposition, who will argue policy and wait for the next election, because there is always another election. Let’s go back to that model.

  37. I was in San Francisco in the mid 1980’s and I was a very cool city. It is sad what it has become.

  38. You might consider Rob Bell’s historical context on turning the other cheek, including the social issues of that time.

    Starts 8 minutes in.

    Sure, turning the other cheek is the original OG non-violent protest. But, it is SO much more. It’s at least the OG metagame.

    That MORE gives added form to much of what’s expressed here.  

    It might give some of the pack a new frame of reference on your metagame. It certainly did for me, as I’ve had plenty of opportunities to trial it over the past 6+ years.

  39. Avatar for mjb867 mjb867 says:

    Personally, the reason there is such a fight for the controls of party or general government machinery is that there is too much power to be had in controlling the Leviathan. To diffuse the power, so irrespective of whom controls what will matter little, is the only way the experiment continues.

    It is doing simple things, like repealing the 16th and 17th amendment, getting rid of our central bank monetary control masters, etc., etc. The lessening of centralized powers that exists within the general government, the more that power will be diffused back down to state/local/individual levels and will allow individuals/smaller groups to exercise power over their own destiny. Then we won’t continue the back and forth faux (Fascist/Marxist - the European political spectrum) right/left control arguments over whom captain’s the ship and spin back to the (total control/anarchy US political spectrum) that was practiced pre-early 20th century progressive era.

    Radical reduction of central government control mechanisms is the only way to burn it down and avoid the catastrophe. The pitch to the people for this has to be made. All else is playing around the edges and spitting in the wind…

  40. Can you expound why you dismiss Unity 2020? In the gist of the perfect being the enemy of the good, it seems attractive.

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