Monday, November 1, 2010

A Weekend in Armageddon

I'm a little depressed this morning.

Every Saturday I read Peggy Noonan's column in the Wall Street Journal, and, generally speaking, find that the sky is falling somewhere that she's visited.  Mostly it's falling on Democrats, but it's falling for sure.  And usually I don't think twice about it because I grew up on Chicken Little and know it all ends well.  However, she kind of laid it on the line this weekend when she wrote that "We are in a crisis.  Our spending is ruinous, the demands of government are too great. . .We have only a short time to fix things, we have to move now."

So, we've got that Armageddon scenario going for us politically.

Then, my other favorite Jeremiah, Thomas Friedman, goes to bat every Sunday and often piles on a dose of technological and geopolitical Armageddon.  This Sunday it was the good folks in India lecturing us on the American dream.   Amazingly, when they talk they sound just like a Tom Friedman book, as when a "few Indian business leaders want to ask the president. . .Didn't America export to the world all the technologies and free market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field--and now you're turning them against us?"  Meanwhile, an Indian journalist wrote that our country has "worn-out infrastructure, [a] failing education system and lack of political consensus."  Another says we've lost our self-confidence.  Another wonders if we're going to cede our leadership to China.

All of which pales, frankly, in relation to the coming Singularity.  We tackled Ray Kurzweil and his followers just a while ago here.  Kurzweil says things like, "At the onset of the twenty-first century, humanity stands on the verge of the most transforming and the most thrilling period in its history. It will be an era in which the very nature of what it means to be human will be both enriched and challenged, as our species breaks the shackles of its genetic legacy and achieves inconceivable heights of intelligence, material progress, and longevity."

I'm here to say that I'm not sure I like any of this.  I can't decide if I'd rather have economic collapse, or be lectured to by non-Americans about the American dream, or allow my brain to turn to molten jello, or stand on the precipice of an era when we no longer even know what it means to be human. 

I have either seen the Four Horseman of the American Apocalypse this weekend, or I have seen the way modern mass media and publishing place absolutely everything on the brink to boost circulation.  

Either way, I'm going for another cup of coffee this morning.