Don’t Fall For It: A Pre-Emptive Warning

Very soon now, if it hasn’t already started, you’re going to be hearing a certain story over and over again from politicians. As the Covid-19 vaccines roll out across the world, and hopefully make their presence felt sooner rather than later, the drumbeat of this certain story will get louder and louder.

And that story is that the creation and rollout of the vaccine represents a triumph of capitalism, of free enterprise, of the free market. That it’s a shining example of what the market can deliver, when government gets out of the way.
Scott Morrison will be saying this.
Boris Johnson will be saying this.
Joe Biden will be saying this.

It is a lie.

Not a misunderstanding, not a half-truth, not an accidental misinterpretation of the facts. A lie.

To start with, of the six vaccines approved at the time of writing, one of them was produced by a state-owned company (the BBIBP-CorV by Sinopharm, which is wholly owned by the Chinese government) and another was produced by a collaboration between a private company and a publically-funded university (the AZD1222 vaccine by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford). So to start with, that’s already a quarter of them produced by decidedly unfree enterprises.

But even more importantly, none of these vaccines would be being made at all – with the possibly exception of the two I’ve mentioned above – were it not for the fact that there’s a lot of government money being spent to support this research. In fact, there are literally no buyers for the vaccines which are not governments. The market, such as it is, for these products is one entirely created by governments (which, remember, aren’t supposed to interfere in the operation of the market, because otherwise the market tends to sulk).

Furthermore, the actual rollout of the vaccines is being handled, in most cases, by a mixture of privately-owned and publicly-owned medical services. (Arrangements vary depending on that nation in question.) So it’s not like good old free enterprise gets to claim a whole credit for that either.

So, again, the story that the vaccine represents a triumph of the free market is a lie.

Now, the spread of the Covid-19 virus, well, that the free market can take quite a bit of credit for. Whether it’s the insecure work practices of cruise liners, the ‘flexibility’ of casualisation in nursing homes and other industries, the reflexive out-sourcing to private security firms, the fly by night operators allegedly cleaning public transport rolling stock, and so on. The list goes on and on, and all of these are just Australian examples. Each of them is an example of the market failing to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number, and almost all of them are examples of the market’s regular operation leading to preventable deaths.

Just a little something to keep in mind when the propaganda starts up.

This Week, January 6, 2021

Well, that was a year. One I hope we never go back to, but who can say? Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. Renewed outbreaks in my home town and a vaccine still months away. We maintain.

Honestly, I don’t feel like I got a lot of work done in the last six months. Which is one of the things that finds me back here – I’m not sure if anyone’s reading this, but I assume someone is, and thus, this can serve as a mechanism of accountability for me.

And a record of my failure to properly keep notes, which means that I’m actually not sure what five of the different projects I’ve mentioned here are anymore, which is just great.

In the meantime, Projects Lee, Kasem, Periander and Galen have crept forward slowly – I’m pleased at the progress I’ve made, I just feel like there should be more of it. Nothing else has progressed significantly.

Oh, and I’m still wrestling with the same dilemma I had last time I posted here. Here’s hoping for a more productive week by the time I’m writing this again next week.

This Week, July 17, 2020

Not a lot of work got done on my own projects this week – a little of the endless edging forward of Project Lee and Project Kasem, a goodly chunk of Project Galen, but most of my efforts this week went to my contributions towards someone else’s project, the wonderful Wandrer which has enlivened and gamified my bicycle riding all of this year and part of last year.

Honestly, I’ve been taking a step back, trying to go big picture on this, and wondering which projects to push forward with and which not of late. Should I concentrate on those which will generate a profit (and which those are, given the uncertainty of the near and further futures just at the moment), or should I instead just do those which make me happy?

I find myself leaning toward the latter as I type this, but I’ve going back and forth on this for the last few weeks and I’m no closer to a decision, so who knows?

This… While, July 9, 2020

So then I fell off a cliff. Not literally, but I did have a very low period there in which not much got accomplished, but I’m coning back from it now. One of the things I did to enable this comeback was the put Project Jeamland on hold indefinitely, because the stress vs reward ratios on that one were part of what tipped me over. But even Projects Kasem, Galen and Lee have not seen very much progress in this period.

Still, I’m hoping things will get better soon. I feel like I’ve turned a corner, and ironically, my city going back into lockdown may have actually helped – not because it’s a good thing, but because it at least shows that someone is trying to make things better here in Melbourne. That helps.

See you next Wednesday.

This Week, June 20, 2020

Wow, really late this week. It’s been one of those times – I didn’t get a lot done because the lifting of covid restrictions has made more cabin fever that much more intense, so I’ve been out and about and having fun. That said, some progress towards various projects has been made in this time, because I’d feel guilty if I didn’t do some work, but this week has largely been a wash.

That said, I came up with an all new project this week (which I’ll tell you more about when I’ve re-read the book I need to for research). For now, dropping a place marker for Project Cuculiforme.

I also had a sudden inspiration that greatly expanded an idea I’ve been toying with for years, and I think I’ve finally figured out how to make it work. It’s an idea that I’ll need to talk over with my favourite coding expert, but seeing as how I’m currently occupying their time with Project Periander, that will have wait. So again, no details now, other than a marker for Project Réseau.

See you next Wednesday

This Week, June 12, 2020

Yeah, I know, two days late.

This has not been a terribly productive week. I’ve gotten very little done – even the daily progress of Projects Kasem and Lee has stuttered. That said, forward progress was made on projects Galen and Periander, and I even reached the second milestone of Project Jeamland. I also picked up and dusted off Project Marrok, and did a little work on that.

Project Marrok is a Pbta-based role playing game whose subject is a revisionist take on the Arthurian Mythos. I read an Arthurian novel during the week, and it inspired me to change certain aspects of the game as I have it at the moment, in ways that pleasingly broaden its scope without massively increasing the size of the actual project. So that was good. But frankly, I don’t feel fantastic about what I’ve got done this week, at the same time that I am finding it difficult to focus enough to actually do anything. It’s annoying, but that’s life in the weirds.

Oh, and my plan is be back on schedule next week. See you next Wednesday.

This Week, June 3, 2020

Yeah, I know I’m a day late – just had the brain fog real bad yesterday and couldn’t get it together well enough to write this.

Okay, so this week saw small amounts of forward progress on PROJECT JEAMLAND and PROJECT PERIANDER, with more to come as they are my major focus at the moment (and indeed, when I finish this post I’ll be jumping straight back to JEAMLAND). As usual, incremental progress on PROJECTS LEE, KASEM and GALEN has continued, although the former two remain disturbingly unvisited by many people. (I’m assuming that, in the long term, volume will be the solution to that issue, but we’ll see.)

Had an idea for a new project last night – let’s call it PROJECT SUBTERRANEA but I’m not sure how well it will come together just yet. I have the first part of something, I need to know how to wrap it up. And a friend who’d been thinking in parallel to me approached me with their ideas about something I had been considering from a different point of view, and I am onboard (though not leading) that. Call it PROJECT DROMUIUS. My friend is moving forward with it, but it’s very early stages as yet.

After bringing up PROJECT HAEDI last week, it occurred to me that this isn’t the first time I’ve had a bunch of projects formulated like this, and that I should check in on where the previous generation of them – the SEKRIT PROJEKTS of 2008 – went.

HAEDI, obviously is still a going concern that I plan to move forward with later this year.

ATLANTIS was a website devoted to Aquaman and his supporting cast that I did some work on but wound up abandoning after DC’s New 52 relaunch in 2012 killed my interest in the character and my enthusiasm for the project.

CLARITAS was an editing/formatting service, and wound up getting folded into the small business I launched in 2010, and did not progress particularly far or outlive that business.

DATIVE was a website about the films of John Cusack. I have done virtually nothing on after losing my notes and having to start from scratch. It’s a surprisingly small project, but I have yet to work out how to execute it. Given that it has some overlap (in terms of needed coding skills) with another project that I am looking at for the medium term, it may wind up getting done around then.

DOMUM was a short story about Sherlock Holmes, which, frankly, I should write just to get it the hell out of my head.

EROS, like HAEDI, is another idea that I can see myself doing in the not too distant future, so I’ll talk about it more then.

GERMANI was a silly short film that I really should get around to making one of these days, although probably not just yet, since outdoor filming and social distancing don’t really mix.

MALASTRA is another idea that I really do still plan to get to one day not so very far away.

NERO has only ever been something to nibble at from time to time, and remains so.

SCRINIUM is a project that, quite frankly, I lack the skills or contacts to pursue, at least at the current time. Although it gives me an idea for another project, one I could do… 🙂

Anyway, see you next Wednesday.

This Week, May 27 2020

This has not been a productive week. I mean, I’ve actually gotten quite a bit done, but I feel like I haven’t, because I came down with a cold on Sunday night and it’s really been knocking me for a loop. So while I’ve done some stuff, it’s mostly been the slow, under the radar stuff that won’t show in the world for a while yet. So it goes.

So, let’s see – incremental progress on JEAMLAND and PERIANDER and GALEN and KASEM and LEE (PROJECT LEE, if you’re curious, is the Pharmacopoeia Fantastica over at The Centre Cannot Hold. It’s similar to GALEN and KASEM in most respects, except that it has a narrower scope and thus requires less attention. For now. It’s named for William Lee.) No progress on PIPER or most other projects, and an agreement with a friend doing their own HAEDI to revisit that one in a few weeks.

I had to dig really quite deeply to find the name for HAEDI – I knew I’d named it a decade or so ago, but I never really did much about it then, and I had forgotten the name. It was one of a bunch of projects I had going then. Some week soon, I promise, I’ll dig them all up and look at what became of them, but not this week, due to the aforementioned feeling crap.

See you next Wednesday

This Week

So I spent most of the last week either sleeping or suffering from the kind of low grade brain fog that makes forward progress seem impossible, even when, objectively, you know you’re making some. But, to paraphrase the Mountain Goats, I made it through this week, even if it killed me…

Progress updates first, then rambling:

  • PROJECT JEAMLAND – teensy, tiny incremental progress because it was largely a recruitment phase. That said, everyone I’ve invited to the project has now replied, and I have enough warm bodies to go ahead with it.
  • PROJECT PERIANDER – again, made a little progress, still trying to convince myself that leaving the house to do data collection for it constitutes ‘work’ under Victoria law, and behind that, wrestling with the anxiety that planning to do so brings on. Still, that won’t be too far away, because I need to do it to complete the current (which is to say, the first) phase of the project.
  • PROJECT GALEN – is never-ending, but that being the case, I think it can go public: it’s my Reading Orders site, which, as per usual, has seen a lot of tinkering (because most of the pages in it only need small updates every so often), and a major project within it that I’m currently devoting a lot of time to, which is the Marvel Comics Multiverse. But I’ve added a good forty or so books to that over the last week, in addition to other bits and pieces, and I’m happy with how it’s going. Why, I should catch up to the present any week now! For obvious reasons, this is a marathon project, and as such, so long as I’m adding new content to the site faster than publishers are putting it out, I’m happy with how it’s going.
  • PROJECT KASEM – previously un-named, is likewise a marathon project – it’s the ongoing Rock’n’Roll History of the World idea over at The Centre Cannot Hold. And I’ve added enough entries this week to feel okay with my current progress (although the ones I’ve added are reformatted previous entries rather than wholly new ones, and I very much want to do those too). This is a project I’m more or less content to let chug along, safe in the knowledge that every so often I’ll be inspired to really go to town on it and do a bunch of stuff.
  • PROJECT PIPER – I have done, I am fairly sure, nothing at all on this project in the last week. Which is fine, it’s a longer term project that is queued up behind JEAMLAND anyways.
  • PROJECT METAMORPHOSIS – this is a project I haven’t mentioned before. It’s an extensive writing idea that would be a marathon project with a word count in the hundreds of thousands of words, and honestly, I’m still not sure I want to commit to it. But I wrote a character sketch last night anyway because I was worried I’d lose it if I just went to sleep.
  • PROJECT HAEDI – Which is an old, old project idea that I really should have done, oh, any time in the last 18 years or so, but which I am finally starting to do the work of figuring out how to do, thanks to a friend pointing me at a really cheap online course on Udemy.

I think that’s everything I have at the moment that’s either been previously mentioned or had some movement in the last week.

I did mention last week that I might explain what the project names mean, but it’s late and I don’t really want to go into that now (and my urge to ramble disappeared down an internet rabbit hole). But since I’ve already outed the projects in question, I’ll explain two of them: Project Kasem, the Rock’n’Roll History of the World, is named for Casey Kasem, a formative DJ in my childhood. And Project Galen is actually misnamed – it should be Project Galan, named for Galan of Taa, the last survivor of the universe before ours, who was reborn into the present universe and will live to see its end. Also known as Galactus, Devourer of Worlds.

See you next Wednesday

Omega and Alpha

Wow, I haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

So, this is 2020 thoughts, coronavirus, covid-19, quarantine musings. Because when you have a lot of time to do very little except spend it with yourself, you get to know yourself better and better.

I have, creatively (and perhaps emotionally, in some respects) an Alpha and an Omega. (I do not believe that this is true of everyone – I do not believe, for that matter, that I’ll still necessarily find this metaphor a useful one a week from now. But right here, right now, it works for me.)

The Alpha is the 1990 movie Pump Up The Volume, possessor of the greatest opening line of all time:

Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?

The Omega is the 1994 novel Only Forward, possessor of the greatest closing line of all time:

Everyone deserves a happy ending. Even me.

There is, obviously, more to both of these works than that, but these are the standout moments. They’re (respectively) the opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the closing cacophony of a A Day in the Life.

I’ve recently dug back into both works for the first time in a while, and found new things (and refound old things) and learned things about myself. Art is a mirror, but it shows different things from different angles. (And, to continue the metaphor, one of the figures generating that angle is time, or if you prefer, experience.) There’s so many things in each of them that resonate with me.

But taken together, they tell me this: I have forgotten myself. I am not sure that I can again find myself, but I am sure that I can build anew,and that, for now at least, that will do.

And the most way I want to do that is creatively. Is through building things in the world. Is through positive action. So. Projects.

Right now, there’s PROJECT JEAMLAND, which is coming together like, heh, a Jeam. As in it’s going better and faster than I could possibly have hoped. JEAMLAND is reasonably finite, which is nice, and I hope to have it all finished in a reasonably short amount of time. And after spending the last three days doing little else, planning to take a break from it tomorrow.

There’s PROJECT PERIANDER, which has taken a hit from the lockdown, but continues to move forward, just more slowly. (Probably just as well – there’s some aspects of it I’ve underthought so far.) PERIANDER divides neatly into phases, and there will likely be a lacuna of sorts between phase one and phase two, and not one dictated by me. Basically, there’s everything that can be done before reaching the starting line, but the starter’s gun is the end of lockdown.

There’s PROJECT GALEN, which is never-ending, but still, is chugging along in a way that makes me happy.

There’s the marathon projects, the ones in which, so long as I take a few steps forward each week, I’m okay with right now. (Not to say they might not leap up at some point, but not until I’ve cleared my plate of these other projects at least.)

There’s the research projects, where I’m basically still just occasionally filing notes into a folder, and are likely to stay that way until a critical mass gets reached. That said, these are projects for which I do anticipate that happening at some point, and even have a bit of a road map forward, just not one I’m hurrying to follow right now. For example, PROJECT PIPER, which I am currently putting together ideas for, but not actively working on until I’ve cleared JEAMLAND and PERIANDER from my schedule.

And finally, there’s the someday-maybe projects, which may or may not also be research projects, except that they’re not necessarily ever going to cross the threshold into being full on projects. Some of them are inchoate in the extreme, some of them are waiting for the stars to come right (which may never happen). Some of them are idle fancies that it amuses me to tinker with every so often. But you never know when one might suddenly take off.

Anyway, I’m tired of keeping quiet about all these things. I’m tired of being worried that I’ll look like a fool if I talk too much about them. I’d rather aim high and miss than throw away my shot.

So, from now, on this is going to be a weekly update, posted each Wesnesday. I’ll update you on my work and my week, and I’ll be a little less cagey about things as I go along – I might even explain what the project names mean if I’m feeling particularly expansive 🙂

See you next Wednesday.