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Author Topic: EP456: To Waste  (Read 12979 times)

SonofSpermcube

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Reply #25 on: August 07, 2014, 12:23:52 PM
Did anybody else notice the irony of how The Warlord was preaching how to be civilized is to waste (and he clearly didn't like that), but the very next moment his goons were wasting water?
To be civilized is to waste. Sure, I can get behind that. The affluent First World Person can throw away resources on buying three times as much food as he actually needs, a TV set with a screen the size of a one person tent and more cars than people with driver's licenses in his household. But here you are, Mister Warlord, wasting the most precious commodity in existence. And it's not affluence, you're playing with people's lives. So I suggest you climb down from that high horse you're on, it seems to be a bit thirsty.

(Sorry for the rant, hypocrisy pushes my buttons).


I don't think it was that he didn't like that, he's saying "you're no different from me, you're no better than me."  Civilization as it has usually existed exploits and abuses people and subjugates their will by putting control of resources into a few hands, and the trappings of civilization, particularly modern Western civilization are incredibly wasteful.  And we, and particularly our ruling classes, flaunt that waste (see the sorts of lifestyles associated with our celebrity culture and glamorized in much of our popular media) and in some instances hold it up as a virtuous way of living to be aspired to.  And we're no less violent than him; if his violence isn't actually carried out on our behalf in some way, he'd be in the minority.  We just have social structures to insulate most of us from any responsibility for the violence that makes our lifestyles possible.  The warlord doesn't, he just denies that responsibility matters.  He's LESS hypocritical than the journalist in that way.  He doesn't pretend to himself that he isn't a bastard.



I think the gauze is an interesting metaphorical device.  It allows a single object to represent all of modern medicine, which is a trapping of civilization that can indeed be wasted (much plastic surgery) and which can be used to keep the population in line, and to make organizations and individuals appear charitable by doling out essentially token amounts of it.  If he wanted to have a realistic depiction of modern health care being rationed by such a warlord it would strain credulity that the people involved would cooperate without those insulating social structures between them and the tyrant; and it wouldn't fit in anything short of a novel.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 12:31:01 PM by SonofSpermcube »



SonofSpermcube

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Reply #26 on: August 07, 2014, 12:32:56 PM
I liked the parts of this story but didn't think the whole really hung together. The photographer may have pictures showing that the Warlord isn't really so 'merciful' but come on, who really believes a Warlord's propaganda- the clue is in the name... And maybe I'm too cynical but what will happen anyway if the truth is shown? There's plenty of cruel despots and dictators out there ruling unchallenged. Perhaps this could have been stronger if the Warlord wasn't a Warlord but someone/thing that really did appear benign to the wider world.
Then the leaving of the camera... Again could have been more powerful if it involved a real sacrifice by the photographer and a chance of salvation for the boy. But really he's escaping with all of his award winning shots, probably leaving the boy to a nasty death. So for me there was not enough of a story/character arc here. Just man gets captured, see horrible things, escapes, probably nothing changes...


The point of personality cults isn't to make anyone believe them.  It is that displays of agreement with the propaganda serve as a loyalty test.  Anyone who doesn't say that they see five lights has proven that they aren't unquestioningly loyal and cannot be trusted. 



matweller

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Reply #27 on: August 07, 2014, 01:37:14 PM
You saw the emperor's new clothes, right?



Kanasta

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Reply #28 on: August 07, 2014, 07:54:42 PM
I assumed the truthful pictures would be going to the wider world where the personality cult would hold no power...



matweller

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Reply #29 on: August 07, 2014, 08:13:10 PM
That's how normal people think. Dictators…well…North Korea.



Kanasta

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Reply #30 on: August 07, 2014, 11:51:11 PM
Yeah but the story is written as if the Warlord's beliefs are true, that's my point. And this doesn't even seem as if it's set in a major dictatorship like N Korea, more like a small place that people on the outside might get outraged about due five minutes then do nothing about. Or are you saying that the boy' photos will destroy the Warlord's rule from within and drive everyone to rise up against him by shattering the illusions? Because it seemed to me the point was more about getting the photos to the wider world.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 11:53:16 PM by Kanasta »



matweller

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Reply #31 on: August 08, 2014, 02:30:56 AM
A dictator doesn't care a lot about how he looks to the wider world. That's the nature of megalomania. He propagandizes and terrorizes those within his sphere of influence -- and in that space he wants to look as a benefactor and a strict disciplinarian. And when that propaganda hits the wall of that dome, it bounces back to him and he only starts to believe his own ego feed more. If some of that propaganda gets out -- who cares? They wouldn't dare mess with his glory, right?

Meanwhile on the outside, if he doesn't have oil, then none of the big countries want to do anything other than sell him guns and none of the small countries can afford the cost of punishing him, so he can go on indefinitely as long as he toes the line. Look at N. Korea, Cuba, Libya, and until recently Iraq. Look at the leaders of both of the main parties in our system. Right down to pimps and kingpin drug dealers. All the same ego, each just scaled to fit the boundaries.



Kanasta

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Reply #32 on: August 08, 2014, 06:31:22 AM
I totally agree with what you are saying. My point is, that to me, that's the weakness of the story. Because what I saw as the central plot tenets - the camera; the uploaded photos - are therefore pretty pointless. A man escapes, nothing changes, the end. So although I really like the details, the medical tech etc, for me the plot is weak. If felt like the end was meant to be a bit like one of those films where the heroes release incriminating evidence to all of the news channels and we see everyone round the world watching it and THE TRUTH IS OUT. (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYFskT0GRCg&index=11&list=PLZbXA4lyCtqpPtVHO4hq2i3CRJBYffWbc) But we know it won't work like that. Perhaps that is the point, but it meant I found a lot of the protagonist's actions, dilemmas etc, rather meaningless.



albionmoonlight

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Reply #33 on: August 08, 2014, 04:20:33 PM
I had no idea this story had so much to do with milk bottles :)



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #34 on: August 09, 2014, 01:48:09 PM
A dictator doesn't care a lot about how he looks to the wider world. That's the nature of megalomania. He propagandizes and terrorizes those within his sphere of influence -- and in that space he wants to look as a benefactor and a strict disciplinarian. And when that propaganda hits the wall of that dome, it bounces back to him and he only starts to believe his own ego feed more. If some of that propaganda gets out -- who cares? They wouldn't dare mess with his glory, right?

Meanwhile on the outside, if he doesn't have oil, then none of the big countries want to do anything other than sell him guns and none of the small countries can afford the cost of punishing him, so he can go on indefinitely as long as he toes the line. Look at N. Korea, Cuba, Libya, and until recently Iraq. Look at the leaders of both of the main parties in our system. Right down to pimps and kingpin drug dealers. All the same ego, each just scaled to fit the boundaries.
Vladimir Putin, anyone?

But this phenomenon Mat describes is what I was thinking while listening: why does the Warlord care what others think of him, when he controls their resources already?

In the U.S., even, the frustrating combination of ignorance and apathy means that even if a journalist can get the Story and get it published, she can't make the audience care. The only people who are likely to be affected by the tarnished image of the Warlord are people so remote to him that their outrage won't have any affect on his ability to maintain his grip.

Maybe in this story, the Warlord cases because he sees the narrator as being his "official" reporter? Maybe he sees himself getting ready for a power grab where his image really will matter?

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SpareInch

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Reply #35 on: August 09, 2014, 06:08:57 PM
I had no idea this story had so much to do with milk bottles :)

Sorry about that. I really did only intend to use a fairly standard illustration (At least, it is where I come from.) to say that The Warlord had a point about waste. I seem to have hit the Green Nerve though. If we all keep really quiet though, the milk bottles might go away. Shhhhhh... :-X

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TwoXForr

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Reply #36 on: August 09, 2014, 06:29:01 PM
Glad to have you back Muir, liked the story, but was confused by your introduction, you said it was post apocalyptic, when really the photographer was just in the clutches of a local warlord (like in Somalia), no indication that he rest of the world had slipped off into lawless state. 

Unless you count that no one was trying to rescue this photographer even though his pictures were getting out to the rest of the world via satellite, but maybe the photo essay was not clear that he was being held captive. 

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #37 on: August 11, 2014, 11:26:24 PM
A dictator doesn't care a lot about how he looks to the wider world. That's the nature of megalomania.
<edit>
Vladimir Putin, anyone?


See, Matt, I don't completely agree with that. Really depends on the vanity of the dictator. There are those who don't want the outside world to know what they're really doing (even when it's obvious) so the outside world can't call B.S. on their propaganda - with backup.

And I'm not sure Putin's a good example of that either. (That is, he doesn't fit what I just wrote) He's in Russia. And Russia tends not to talk to or really take seriously things that aren't in Russian.



Unblinking

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Reply #38 on: August 12, 2014, 03:47:21 PM
I didn't really get into this story.  I never really related to the narrator.  He seemed like a non-character for the most part, maybe that's intended because of his nature as a journalist, but I never really felt like he was a journalist either, just a dude with a camera--not the same thing.  From the very beginning I didn't understand him in part because of the urine-to-water then water-to-coffee transition.  I presume that was meant to show me his wastefulness, but I just didn't understand how someone could be in a situation that required such water conservation to require filtering one's own urine could ALSO use that precious resource to make a lesser amount of coffee which both results in a loss of water from the heating and also has caffeine that dehydrates you.

The smart gauze was a cool idea, and interesting development of the hand being attached to the wrong owner that way, but overall I just didn't get into the story.



Fenrix

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Reply #39 on: September 17, 2014, 04:35:25 AM
I suppose from the supermarkets POV they sell more if they use paper packaging because it's cheaper.

Plus, glass is thick and heavy. Moving around all those bottles costs money (not to mention bringing back the empties), and you can fit fewer pints of milk in the display if they're in bottles than if they're in cartons. I'm sure those are also significant factors.


Don't forget the breakage factor. Wax paper cartons can take a little more abuse than a glass bottle, and they're already disposable. In both cases of breakage the milk is lost, but with glass the higher replacement cost is an extra burden.

Maybe a better example is water waste. Rather than the Vegas example, I'll point to lawns. The biggest crop in the US is grass. And it requires a lot of chemicals and watering to keep something growing that has been forced into an artificial (and probably non-native) environment. Lawns are peer-pressure mandated waste (and in many places, backed by law/code or lien penalties).

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Scattercat

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Reply #40 on: September 18, 2014, 12:33:38 AM
Lawns are also anti-American!  You know why we have lawns?  Because one of the things you could do if you were a British aristocrat was waste your land on huge open areas around your house (once perhaps as a defense for a fort, but eventually just as conspicuous consumption).  It was also a man-vs.-nature thing about controlling and dominating the land.  And then people came to the US, where land was a lot more plentiful, and decided that everyone needed these carefully groomed and trimmed little estates.

So if you water your lawn, you're capitulating to the redcoats and perpetuation bad theology, and you therefore hate God and America.

Our house requires us to maintain a lawn because of HOA rules, but I'm letting the surrounding trees just sort of gradually reclaim more and more of the space.  It's already mostly moss and bare dirt anyway because the house was vacant for like two years before we rented it.  Lawns are the dumbest thing, for serious.



Fenrix

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Reply #41 on: September 19, 2014, 03:35:43 PM

Lawns are also anti-American!  You know why we have lawns?  Because one of the things you could do if you were a British aristocrat was waste your land on huge open areas around your house (once perhaps as a defense for a fort, but eventually just as conspicuous consumption).  It was also a man-vs.-nature thing about controlling and dominating the land.  And then people came to the US, where land was a lot more plentiful, and decided that everyone needed these carefully groomed and trimmed little estates.

So if you water your lawn, you're capitulating to the redcoats and perpetuation bad theology, and you therefore hate God and America.


Yes and no. The lawn returned to popularity in America with the post-WW2 baby boom suburban expansion, lead by the architect and land planner Abraham Levitt. The suburban lawn was easy to manufacture by mass grading large properties to subdivide them into smaller residential lots. Scrape it flat, pop a ranch house on it, and plant grass from end to end. It's a lot more difficult and expensive to develop around trees and buffers and landscaping. This cost-cutting technique was sold as part of the greatness of the suburbs (it's a feature, not a bug!), so it's a lot of waste on both ends of the process. And quintessentially baby boom consumption culture.

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bounceswoosh

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Reply #42 on: September 20, 2014, 02:02:54 AM
Our area is so arid that HOAs aren't allowed to dictate watering or how green the lawn looks. But everyone still has one ... Except a few who did xeriscaping.



hardware

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Reply #43 on: October 03, 2014, 01:40:05 PM
This story didn't really capture me, although it had some good tension. Maybe I just feel that I know that story of journalist under pressure a bit too well. Was glad to have Mur back of course!



davidthygod

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Reply #44 on: October 09, 2014, 06:43:48 PM
I found this to be a fairly realistic possible future.  Even as the world advances technologically, there will always be areas left behind the progress and in those areas the strong or empowered will often attempt to suppress others for their gain.  I immediately thought of Somalian Warlords a la "Black Hawk Down" or a futuristic "Heart of Darkness" or even more aptly, this is an updated version of Pol Pot and "The Killing Fields".

Not a perfect story, but I found thought provoking and entertaining, and it stuck with me for a couple of days, which is always a sign of a good story. 

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.


CryptoMe

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Reply #45 on: March 30, 2015, 04:57:03 AM
I liked this story, but loved the forum discussion waaaay better, with all the milk bottles and lawn watering and such.

By the way, I thought lawns were developed on the great English estates as a place for your sheep to graze. Anyone know more on that?