Who Wears the Pants - Part 1
by Jennifer Loraine
On the Edge of a Crumbling Precipice
On a watery world orbiting an insignificant star on the outer edges of a galaxy named by a tiny fraction of its inhabitants, the Milky Way, catastrophic climatic and ecological changes were underway. The relatively cool crust of the planet's tectonic plates were adjusting themselves in an aeons-old pattern of strain reduction, releasing billions of joules of heat and mechanical energy. The planet's erstwhile owners, who had arrogantly named themselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens, in honor of their self-vaunted abilities to reason, had polluted and overpopulated the planet to an astonishing degree. They had literally dumped thousands of tons of gaseous compounds into the planet's atmosphere without considering the consequences of their actions. Nitrous oxides, ozone, sulfides, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride, and methane poured from their industrial smoke stacks, automobiles, waste dumps and domestic middens in unceasing plumes to mix with the planet's fragile ecology. As a rule (that is largely unknown to people who are not in "tune" with the universe), planets are types of living entities and as such demonstrate at least one characteristic of life, i.e., they are irritable. In a biologic sense, irritability is generally defined to mean that the organism in question reacts to external stimuli. Aside from this characteristic, planets do not as a rule have all the taxonomic requirements of life that biologists have agreed are a prime requisite for being included in the classification lists for living organisms. Planets are sui generis, an atypical form of life. On the other hand, neither does a virus. A virus replicates by "pirating" the cellular mechanism of the infected organism and uses it's chemical factory to create a multitude of viral "clones". A virus has no metabolic means to increase it's energy such as the phytogenic organelles present in plant cells or the means to ingest food such as an amoebae or bacteria does. The energy a virus needs must be "stolen" from living cells. Planets do at least eat. A planet ingests "food" by sweeping the zone of its orbit with its gravitational field and draws down a rain of meteoric particles into its atmosphere to incorporate the molecules into its mass. Planets "eliminate" by radiating heat through the atmospheric envelope (or if you like, the outer limits of its mass) and by losing molecules of its upper atmosphere to the photonic pressure created by the solar "wind". Like viruses, they cannot reproduce without outside assistance. Nonetheless, they display the prime characteristic of life; they are irritable. This particular planet in question, designated "Earth" by some of its denizens, was downright disgusted. It had every reason to be piqued. Earth was a mess. The atmosphere was heating up, its oceans were dying; the delicate balance in its ecology had been mangled by the dominant species that presumed ownership of the planet.
In vast areas of the northern hemisphere supposedly "pure" rain was heavily contaminated with both nitric and sulfuric acids. Vast fresh water lakes that had existed for a million years had been destroyed in a scant score of annual revolutions around the planet's star by a purblind proletarian government. Species of plants and animals that had existed for aeons were fading into extinction before the silly scions of simians could discover and categorize their place in the ecology. One of the latest eco-crimes by the planet's inhabitants had a side-effect that would have made the planet grin in maliciously human fashion if it had had a face. The world's rain forests were being harvested for their hardwood trees at a rate that was unheard of in history. The unwarranted stripping of the forest land contributed to the heating of the atmosphere by removing the solar absorbing and cooling mass of transpiring leaves as well as diminishing the CO2 to O2 conversion process that had supported the ecological balance. In the forest's place was left naked soil that easily eroded under tropical conditions. The thin top layer of fecund forest soil washed into nearby rivers poisoning the waterways and leaving barren soil that lay only inches beneath the black residue of ten thousand years of ecological recycling of leafy matter. The inhospitable subsoil that remained was incapable of supporting more than the most marginal of life.
What amused the planet was that the inhabitants were discovering the unknown forms of life that they had never bothered to search out and add to their taxonomic lists. True, the discovery process was causing world-wide epidemics of unknown diseases, but "Earth" was unconcerned with the millions of deaths that ensued. If anything, the planet had felt a bit itchy from all the burrowing in its "skin" that the tiny creatures made to build their houses of processed stone. The planet could have tolerated a few million of the little parasites with ease, but five of billion of them? Frankly, it was glad of the relief from the weight of hungry human flesh that threatened to overwhelm its available resources. It was glad of the opportunity to reabsorb the nutrients that the millions of Third World corpses contained as they rapidly decomposed in their shallow earthen graves. The rats and the vultures were happy for the over-abundance of carrion too, pickings had been lean as a consequence of the climatic changes.
Earth shrugged its "skin" in annoyance and considered reversing its magnetic field. A magnetic "flip" would "open" up its atmosphere to solar radiation and eliminate thousands of species of living creatures and plants. On the other hand, it had been growing tired lately and had been slowing down by almost imperceptible amounts. The friction of the Sargasso Sea as well as the pull of its moon were a definite drag to continuing its heavenly motion. Perhaps it should invert the axis of its spin like a precessing top? Either method was a sure fire way of ridding itself of excess numbers of large species of carbon-based life. It had employed each method at various times in its existence to reduce the excess population that crawled or flew over its surface. After all, it wasn't as if life couldn't begin again. The Earth was lousy with spores, seeds and encapsulated eggs that could be expected to survive the worst disaster. Even if the surface of the Earth was scorched black, the voracious sulfur-eating bacteria that gathered around its undersea volcanic vents and infested the strange worm-like creatures that flourished on the periphery of the boiling waters would "seed" the next generation of life. The very rocks five miles deep into the crust were infested with anaerobic bacteria. As long as Earth itself remained intact, it would be inhabited by some form of life. The question was not whether Earth would support life, but rather whether it cared to support human life. Each time it shivered in annoyance, quakes sped their way through its mantle and toppled thousands of man-made structures on the surface. What the quakes didn't destroy, seismically generated tsunamis sucked into the ocean in their wake. The results were almost as entertaining to Earth's primitive humor as the destruction caused by tornadoes and typhoons, not to mention the odd hurricane the Earth threw forth as a diversion from its rather boring weather patterns. Frankly, had the Earth been incarnated as a human, it would have been happiest as a Frenchman or Italian, only they had the same appreciation for the humor of violence. (Unless extremely primitive tribesmen were considered, but they had odd tastes in torture that gave Earth giggling fits as it witnessed their feeble attempts to propitiate its anger by sacrificing fellow humans in exotic ways. These uncontrollable bursts of humor often caused bedrock of the local volcano to tremble with amusement. The natives, suitably awed by the power of the Fire God they were trying to appease, usually interpreted the resonate rumblings of the Earth as a sign that the God was pleased with their sacrifice. The tribesmen were satisfied that their sacrifices had fulfilled their purpose and they continued their practices until they were either wiped out by a later eruption or white men enslaved the inhabitants for their own good. Unfortunately for the inhabitants, either course led to tribal extinction.)
Sometimes a "pimple" would form in the crust and cause a hot swelling of magma to raise a dome. Occasionally, a rip would make its way from the mantle to the outer surface of its crust and vent plumes of poisonous gases and volcanic ash. If the pressure built up too high and remained too long without fissuring the tissues of the planet's crust of rock to vent the gases, the pimple would explode, leaving an acne-like crater in its skin. Older planets didn't suffer from the problem of planetary acne. But then Earth was an adolescent planet of only five billion years of age and the irritations of its parasites worried it intensely. Like any adolescent, mental stain caused its skin to break out. Volcanologists called it a renewed period of seismic activity.
The planet shifted its upper level jet streams and sulked in exasperation at the huge amount of electromagnetic energy the little entities were creating. The EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) that the creatures made were disturbing its ability to think clearly. In one region of the northern hemisphere the little beggars were using a two hundred mile square of the planet's skin as an antenna for extremely low wavelength (ELF) radio transmissions to exercise command and control of the region's nuclear submarines. ELF transmissions gave Earth a headache as the waves traveled downward to its core. The inventive pests had even set up an experiment code-named "HAARP" (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project) that raised the temperature of the upper atmosphere. In the initial stages of the project they agitated the upper atmosphere with megawatts of shortwave radiation. As the experiment progressed, they gradually increased the frequencies to the microwave region and boosted the magnitude of the output of their transmitters until the emissions were in the gigawatt range. The military project had originally been conceived as long term research to discover new techniques of global warfare. They hoped to use the techniques to permit earth-penetrating tomography over most of the Northern Hemisphere by bouncing deep penetrating waves from the ionosphere into the surface of the Earth's crust. With later refinements, they hoped to destroy enemy missiles, disrupt communications or (at higher energies) control weather patterns over the entire surface of the Earth. Every time their quasi-secret site in Alaska emitted high energy electromagnetic waves in one of their experiments, the Earth wanted to "sneeze" or "cough" from the irritation.
Moreover, the gestalt formed by the collective mind of humanity was getting on the planet's nerves. If only the irritating mites that inhabited its surface would learn to settle down and behave themselves. In the blink of the Earth's figurative eye, the nice, quiet, little population of Gaia-worshipping, naked simians had turned into a raging infestation that was driving Earth absolutely nuts with their ill-planned activities. Earth wanted to take a nice, relaxing nap and let its skin begin to heal. If it couldn't get some rest, the planet had every intention of getting really nasty and destroying the majority of the little beasts. It didn't care if a few thousand of them survived and regressed culturally into the Stone Age. They would reproduce and recreate their culture in ten thousand years or so. A human aeon of ten thousand years was only an eyeblink to the planet. The pyramids would be gone in a moment of its time. In a million years or so, the greatest structures that man had ever built would be gone, reduced to sand by solar heating and the etching of desert winds. The planet had seen the granite mountains it had raised over millennia become the clay of its crust and the sand of its oceans. The planet knew that everything dies in its time, even the stars themselves, just as itself would die one day when the star it orbited became a Red Giant. It could wait. Sooner or later the little bastards were going to annihilate themselves if left to their own devices. If only the little buggers weren't so irritating! Of course the planet could implant thoughts in certain individuals who were receptive. Shamans of primitive cultures could easily read the thoughts of the planet's mind. While Earth had no intention of changing its plans for the immediate future, their was nothing wrong with giving a few of its more perceptive inhabitants a clue to the solution to the problem, was there? With that in mind, it sent out some answers to a few members of the more discriminating human population. Somebody had to get the message! Earth wanted a rest!
Notes from a Graduate Course in Twentieth-Century Political History from the Year 2511
[Excerpt of a quote from the preface to the textbook to the course.]
Whose game was empires and whose stakes were thrones,
Whose table Earth - whose dice were human bones.
The Age of Bronze , st I Lord Byron
Not since the Great Khan had swept out of the steppes of mother Russia had the world known violence like the unleashed evil of the Twentieth Century. When the monarchy of Russia was overthrown by a ill-informed and politically-delusioned group known as the Bolsheviks, the true evil of male-led governments became apparent. Under the Russian dictator Lenin, women were forced into barracks and turned into prostitutes by government edict. Sex was a human right guaranteed by the new Constitution of Russa, therefore the newly formed Communist government would ensure that its female workers would surrender their bodies for the good of the proletariat and the State. Outraged citizen-slaves forced a quick change in policy, but other, more grim horrors were to follow. Under his Secretary of Security, Beria, Lenin had tens of thousands put to death to insure the political stability of his regime. When he died, an even more evil dictator took his place. Stalin was in truth, the "New Man" that the Communist party said they would produce. Without honor, pity, or the slightest spark of humanity, Stalin began a pogrom that sent tens of millions to their deaths. Not to be outdone, Post-WWI Germany produced a madman of nearly equal stature. The apparent object of his hatred was a relatively small ethnic group called Jews. Beginning with the beatings of Jewish citizens and the desecration of the Jewish houses of worship called Synagogues, his army of thugs spread out from the borders of Germany to enslave Western Europe. As each country was engulfed by the Nazi horde, people of Jewish heritage were swept up to be transported to Eastern Europe for "relocation". Men, women, children and babes in arms were packed into suffocating boxcars without food or water for the long train ride across the breadth of Europe. When the survivors were released, they were quickly separated into groups suitable for temporary slave labor and those whom the regime considered useless. The unsuitable children, suckling babes and pregnant women were immediately sent to public showers who's spigots spewed cyanide gas. When the screams of the helpless were silenced by the deadly gas, the tangled mass of corpses were forcibly cleaned with fire hoses of the excrement caused by their violent deaths and pried apart with wooden poles. Then the bodies were carried by wheelbarrow to a human crematoria that plumed the black ash of the regime's victims on the surrounding countryside twenty-four hours-a-day. When the underfed, overworked and brutalized workers survivors became too weak or ill to work, they joined their brethren in the ovens. The renowned German efficiency was given full play as the group of undesirables to be subjected to administrative extinction was expanded to include Russian prisoners, Gypsies, Slavs, Poles, Quakers, Conscientious Objectors, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, mentally ill and deficient citizens as well as subversives of all stripes, i.e., anyone whose political views were not Nazi in origin. The combined death toll from Herr Adolph Hitler's program of "pro-active eugenics" was approximately nine million individuals.
Not to be outdone, Stalin engaged in his own program to "thin" the indigenous human population within his domain. Unlike the brutally efficient German Third Reich, he didn't have the resources to waste on the technology of Death Camps whose high tech German-engineered crematoria efficiently reduced human problems to ash. Stalin's solution to unreliable ethnic groups was merely to starve and work them to death in place. Not only did this policy reduce administrative "overhead", but it left no incriminating records for later generations to indite the murderers as did the daily logs at the Nuremberg trials when Germany and Poland fell to Allied troops. Approximately fifty million people died from direct and indirect causes of the Communist government's policies under Stalin's direction. In terms of total human deaths, Hitler was a mere dilettante in death by comparison. Hitler died by his own hand in his Berlin bunker surrounded by his Russian enemies. Hitler was insufficiently evil to survive, Stalin was not. Stalin died an old man's death surrounded by a picked group of mass murderers and utterly corrupt generals.
As the Century wore to a close, other masters of evil made their attempts to mar the pageant of human history by their infamous misdeeds. Mao Te Sung in China either equaled or bettered Stalin's record, but history cannot be sure of the exact number of his emaciated and cowed victims. Entire provinces starved under the "Cultural Revolution" and were reduced to vast wastelands that were empty of people. Certainly over ten million died under his infamous rule, but the total figures will never be known. Estimates by the United States State Department during the late nineteen nineties put the figure at approximately one hundred million people. All that survives of that evil time are a few court records of entire villages driven to cannibalism of the "bourgeoisie" by the local populace.
Idi Amin created a tribally-based government of supporters in Uganda who relished annihilating other tribes in their country. He not only bragged of his troop's mass murders, but liked to comment to his visiting dignitaries and reporters on how many of his victim's bodies he had eaten. Idi Amin enjoyed taking a personal interest in the victim's torture and mutilation before their severed body parts were added to the soup Id made of his enemies' bodies. Such was his taste in evil that he often added the victim's family to take part in his festivities before they became part of his ghoulish feast. He enjoyed seeing the look on a father's face as his daughter was repeatedly raped by members of the Ugandan military before being hacked apart slowly with machetes. The agony of a father watching his sons and daughters being violated and destroyed added savor to the stew he consumed with his troops later in the evening.
Like Stalin, he was a true student of the forces of anti-life and was able to escape his consummate sins to settle down and live out his old age in a well-appointed and heavily protected compound in Saudi Arabia among the some of the most devout and religious Moslems in the world. Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia was more democratic; they merely wanted to eliminate anyone who was literate. Since the population of the tiny country was so small, they were only able to annihilate three million people. While the sum total was small considered against the Great Killers of the West, it was still a respectable showing for a Third World country. Pol Pot had managed to kill a larger percentage of his fellow citizens than any dictator before him. Since he had no apparent religion except Communism, when he was captured after the fall of the government of the U.S.S.R., there was no place to hide. He was unceremoniously executed by Cambodia's new government after his final fall from power.
Later in nineteen nineties, two madmen competed in Iran and Iraq for the prize of insanity and Godlessness. Iran was "blessed" by Allah when Ahatolla Kolmanhi engineered the fall of the shah and began "Allah's" own purges through his fanatical intermediaries. Iran was to be brought back to the fold of Allah by torturing, murdering and terrorizing its populace into cowed submission to Allah's Will as determined by the medievally-minded mullahs. Immediately, his dictatorial and murderous neighbor to the northwest, Sadam Hussain, attacked Iran and attempted to secure Iran's oil fields along the Iran-Iraq border by force. After the "Holy" battle of Iranian warriors bogged down against the heavily armed and fortified Iraqi troops, the chief mullah of Iran had an inspiration that would have befitted Stalin or Hitler in its depth of evil. In a grand gesture of defiance of the commandment of loving kindness towards children demanded by the Holy Koran, Ahatolla Kolmanhi sent human waves of thirsty fifteen-year-old boys dressed in rags and armed with sticks against Iraqi machine guns and tanks. The carnage of the nation's youth was nearly total.
After a five year war, a truce was declared and Sadam Hussain considered other targets. He invaded the fantastically wealthy and miniscule Moslem kingdom to his south, Kuwait, and had to be driven out by the largest military force that had ever been assembled by mankind up to that time. Unfortunately, due to political considerations, Baghdad was not invaded and Sadam Hussain was left in control to begin a war of genocide against the native Iraqi population of Kurds with little or no interference from the American troops or aircraft. A short ten years later, when his second attempt at his dream of regional domination failed with the abortive terrorist nuclear attack on Tel Aviv with a stolen Russian nuclear device, he was spared again. The American President managed to convince Israel not to retaliate in kind. The muzzles and leashes that had restrained the Mossad and the CIA were loosed and a program of selective assassination of Iraqi leaders by every means possible was ordered. When Iranian intelligence was politely asked (through the helpful auspices of the French Surreté) if they wished to assist in their enemy's destruction, they agreed enthusiastically. The Iranian moles in the Iraqi government were smuggled high technology weapons from the secret laboratories of both the CIA and the Mossad. Even the Russian government was asked to lend a hand to destroy the madman who had threatened a world nuclear conflict. While it is not known who the Russian moles were, or how the weapons were sent to them or who their targets were, the effects of one of the world's largest intelligence bureaus produced results almost immediately. Hundreds of ranking bureaucrats that had not been on the American-Israeli-Iranian list expired within two days of the request to Russian intelligence from suspicious causes. The last of the high flying K-12 surveillance satellites saw hundreds of cars moving under cover of darkness with their infrared television cameras during the "Night of Vengeance", as the Israelis termed it. American analysts theorized that the Iraqi military had been thoroughly suborned during the period when Russian officers were stationed in Iraq as tactical and strategic instructors. The targeted destruction of the brains of the Iraqi government was not one of the oft thumb-fingered exploits of the old KGB, but an operation conducted by the professional assassins of Russian military intelligence known as GRU or the "Aquarium" by its initiates. Short-term biological agents, radioactive-tantalum poisoned, b-b sized pellets shot from air rifles disguised as umbrellas, finely dispersed cyanide aerosols, neurological toxins derived from marine animals, and mercury-filled dum-dums were favorite techniques as was beheading at a ten meter ranges with entrenching tools by the unknown assassins of the GRU. The Mossad and CIA used either small bombs made with a form of stabilized nitroplastic explosive known as plastiqué made by a factory in Czechoslovakia or more arcane techniques which were never discovered by the poorly trained and equipped Iraqi coroners. Within days the beleaguered dictator found that his generals and staff were decimated and the ranking members of his bureaucracy had been nearly annihilated. Once the infrastructure that had protected him was gone, Sadam Hussain knew the game was over. He was forced to flee his country after an Israeli-Iranian-American engineered coup forced him from office to take a permanent vacation in the Sudan with the surviving members of his supporters.
News from the Front Line of Humanities Travails
Dateline: Sunday Oct 05, 2008
Excerpt From a Major Television News Program:
Anita dropped down into her couch after a long day at the research institute. Then she turned on the television before changing the channel to the national evening news. When the display on the television's CRT cleared, the network anchor Ron Blather turned to the camera and smiled in greeting as he said, "Good Evening. Tonightís lead story concerns the worldís weather. All over the world vast areas are either being burned to a crisp or washed away by torrents of water coming down from the hills as rainfall patterns change. In the mountains of Peru, El Nino Grande, as the locals call it, has caused unceasing rainfall for the past month as rain is diverted from the Pacific Ocean to the hillsides of the mountainous region. The infrastructure of the country has been devastated. Bridges and roads have been washed out all over the countryside, isolating most rural areas from government aid.
People in the drought affected areas are concerned about future water resources - and rightly so. As water levels drop in the deep wells and reservoirs dry up under the relentless Sun, citizens are becoming concerned that potable water may become scarce. Local governments are trying to convert to surface water sources, but they are often contaminated or over-used. We asked ourselves, is the situation as bad as it looks? A report from Gerry Trinkwasser investigates their problem in detail."
<Cut to a computer-generated demonstration of the rainfall cycle.> Gerry Trinkwasserís voice in the background says, "An areaís water supply depends on the hydrologic cycle, which can be constant over decades or centuries of time. About thirty inches of rain falls on the contiguous United States each year. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S.ís annual rainfall is consumed by vegetation, while the remaining one-third runs off into rivers and creeks and is then channeled to the oceans. Up until the year two thousand two, the annual rainfall of the U.S. was so high that the volume was enough for nearly two million gallons of pure, distilled water per person. Until recently, it was believed that there would never be a real water shortage in the United States.
The problem is that so many people live in large metropolitan areas or in deserts. Urban and desert dwellers need enormous quantities of water to support their lifestyles. The rich soil and plentiful sunshine found in the desert provide two of the three elements necessary for profitable farming, water is the third and most precious. Government agencies manipulate the runoff portion of the hydrologic cycle to meet these demands by diverting surface water to cities or for irrigation.
<Cut to stock video of California valley irrigation system flowing freely. The water is running through a concrete-lined channel which ends in dirt ditches. The Sun is high overhead. To the viewers, this seems like an incredible waste of valuable resources.> In both cases, the amount of wasted water is high. In the cities, little water is actually consumed before being returned to the surface drainage system. In the case of irrigation, the water that is diverted for the crops is consumed by the plants by being converted into vapor by transpiration through the stoma of the leaves. In both cases, surplus water is degraded though contamination by pesticides, fertilizers, sewerage, phosphates or chemical leachants after use and is then returned to either the surface-water or groundwater reservoir to contaminate the original supply.
Traditionally, short-term variations in weather patterns have led to droughts. In most areas of the United States, government agencies plan for this contingency by storing surface water behind dams or transfer water from one drainage basin to another. The idea is to ensure that the total water supply wonít change appreciably over a period of years. The excess water from excessive rainfall drains in a matter of days or weeks, while it may take months, sometimes years to replenish depleted reservoirs.
In many areas of the country, water comes from deep wells driven into aquifers surrounded by non-porous bedrock. <An animation begins showing how water is trapped in aquifers and it pumped up to the surface. The first part is a part of a stock animation on water supplies, but for the second part, the animation department had to create new files to display the different aquifers and their current state.> When excessive amounts of water is pumped up from these aquifers, it may take thousands of years to replenish them. <A short animation is displayed of a water droplet moving through the ground as the ecology of the upper land changes over a period of a thousand years and civilization is built over the aquifer.> Most groundwater for irrigation in the Western U.S. comes from the aquifers in the Ogallala aquifer in the southern High Plains region, the alluvial aquifers of central Arizona, and the Central Valley of California. The rapid decline in deep well water levels has proved that heavy exploitation of aquifers for groundwater irrigation has depleted the stored water in the Earth. <Another short animation is displayed showing the decline in the water table as the reserves are pumped out.>
<Cut back to close up of Anchor.> In California and Arizona, surface water has had to be imported for almost twenty years, thus curtailing groundwater production. At first the groundwater levels recovered to a degree, but when the drought dried up the rainwater, the levels remained static. California's chronic water shortage provides the best-known historical example of the long term economic and political consequences of a regional water shortage. From the nineteen nineties on, most of the state's water has been imported to benefit agriculture. Approximately eighty-five percent of the stateís water is still used by farms for irrigation. While only ten percent of the stateís water is given over to municipal use and the remaining five percent is utilized by industry. About half of the irrigation water comes from surface sources and half from groundwater.
There was no such solution for the Ogallala aquifer, as water levels dropped in deep wells, pumping lifts and costs rose until farming was no longer profitable. <Cut to picture of modern white ship-lapped farmhouse being inundated by a hundred-foot-tall sand dune. The peak of a red barn barely shows through the sand that has covered it.> Unfortunately, the drought brought back the sand dunes that had historically formed the basic terrain of the region. When America was first settled, the fields of Kansas where part of the Great American Desert. <Cut to sepia-toned still photo from the an early American photographer of the Kansas during the eighteen hundreds; sand dunes are visible in the distance.> Although the aquifer wasnít totally depleted, the encroaching dunes made corn agriculture impractical. Even dryland farming and grazing became difficult in these areas. <Cut to video of dead corn stalks lying broken and dried in their rows on parched fields as the desert wind blows the topsoil away. A second video clip is displayed showing widely separated patches of brown buffalo grass and scrawny cacti spread across a dusty plain. The plaintive moo's of dying cows can be heard in the background.>
<Cut back to network Anchor.> Other countries are experiencing similar difficulties as the climate changes radically. In Mexico City, the springs of the Valley of Mexico provided water for centuries until heavy pumping from the local aquifer caused them to dry up in the nineteen-thirties. The springs which had given life to the Aztecs, Spanish colonists, and twentieth century Mexico City, have disappeared in the blink of an eye from overuse. By the nineteen-nineties wells driven deep in the Valley of Mexico provided almost all the city's municipal supply. At that time, they produced approximately one billion gallons per day or about two-thirds the amount needed to supply the needs of twenty million people who lived in the Mexico City area. The Mexican government was forced to pipe in another five hundred million gallons per day from a surface reservoir eighty miles away. <Cut to stock film of Mexican workers excavating a three meter wide by ten meter deep trench for the construction of a vast pipeline. Rows of concrete pipe trail off into the distance.> As environmental conditions worsened over the next ten years, discouraged farmers flocked to the city in droves, driving up itís needs at a time when the rainfall over surface reservoir was declining. The recent epidemics of typhoid and cholera have been directly traced to the lack of adequate water supplies for the poorer areas of Mexico City. <Çut to stock footage of a children's hospital in Latin America filled with screaming sick infants and toddlers. [The footage isn't from Mexico, but the director of the network news has long since cannily realized that almost no one will be able to recognize the precise clinic where the video was shot. The lean faces of the starving children are recognizably Latino, which is enough to let the film pass the network censors without objection. The faces and the architecture of Latin America are all too similar for the provincial New York censors who have never left the environs of their overpopulated megalopolis to see the differences.] The ravages of poor nutrition and disease are written upon the stretched skin of the children's gaunt faces.> Critics have said that if Mexico City could control its population growth and begin an aggressive program of sewage and waste disposal treatment, there might be a chance that the city can survive. <Cut to video of downtown Mexico City during rush hour; the hordes of workers walking home en mass and the unmanageable traffic jam are evident to the viewer. A dingy grey pall of pollution hangs in the distance.> Political and economic observers have said on the other hand, that for all practical purposes the criticís ideas are too politically hazardous and expensive to employ during a period when the Mexican Gross National Product and currency has gone into free fall.
<Cut to close up on Anchor with a deeply concerned expression on his face as he drops the pitch of his voice for dramatic effect.> Why is the world suddenly concerned? The springs, rivers, and lakes that allowed communities to develop in the past are disappearing due to climatic changes and overuse. In the past, dams were built or deeper wells were driven to find water. Once the aquifers were depleted, communities around the world became dependent on surface water supplies to fill the gap. The changes in the worldís weather have dried up the ultimate source of life in many areas, making governments wonder if survival for their populations is possible under the harsh conditions of eternal drought."
<Cut back to the Anchor, who continues, frowning because Chinese security forces have seized the illegal videos that his correspondents were trying to smuggle back into the U.S. He will have to make the report without benefit of pictures to back up the veracity of his report. The story gives Dan the impression that that he has moved back in time and is reporting on radio. The Chinese government's actions have irritated him, and he intends to give them no quarter in his report.> " In China, the Three Gorges dam constricting the Yangtze river has caused an eco-catastrophe; the area behind the dam has turned into the world's biggest cesspool. In late nineteen-ninety-seven, China began construction of the world's largest hydroelectric plant, sinking the equivalent of twelve billion dollars into the four hundred mile long reservoir which permanently submerged approximately one hundred and fifty thousand acres, including fifteen hundred factories, four hundred villages, at least one hundred sixty towns, sixteen archeological sites, over eight hundred ancient Chinese temples and required the resettlement of one point three million people. The result has been to create a huge reservoir that stores the effluent of the bulk of Chinese industry along the Yangtze. All along the river, factories owned by the Chinese military and staffed with political slaves provided by the Chinese Court system have dumped tens of thousands of tons of noxious effluent into the Yangtze. Reports are filtering out of China that the groundwater surrounding the area behind the dam has become saturated with toxins and that the people in the area of the dam are dying by the thousands. We also have an unconfirmed report that the turbines of the massive hydroelectric plant have been etched away by the corrosive water and have become unusable. Satellite photos purchased from the French Satellite Company, ISpy, have revealed that the entire area appears to be without power. Lights are out all over the Yangtze valley, including those factories that are operated twenty-four hours a day. I'm sorry to say that we have no footage of the event as the Chinese government has seized the video tapes from our correspondents in direct violation of the International Speech and Press Accords signed by the Chinese government in nineteen-ninety-nine."
Anita grew bored with the news program and turned it off. She had a report from work to write anyway after she made dinner for her husband and herself. If her husband hadn't been so helpless in the kitchen, she could have had him start TV dinners for them before she came home. As it was, he was more than capable of burning water. (Anita had actually witnessed him giving water a burned taste by putting ice in a pot one day when the city water board had temporarily turned off the water to perform maintenance on the supply pipes. When he had turned the heat on the gas burner on high to heat it make coffee - in minutes, the surface of ice had scorched, giving the resultant coffee a burned taste. From that moment on, he had been permanently barred from the kitchen except as a spectator. ) Occasionally, she would let him go out and pick up some burgers for them out of pure exhaustion, but her appreciation for the art of good food precluded fast food take-out more than once a month. Like a mother with a babe in arms, she was anchored to the house to see that he was properly fed..
A Miracle of Modern Chemistry
There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.
Virginia Woolf (1882ñ1941), Orlando, ch. 4 (1928).
Howard was a stinker in every sense of the wordÖ.
It wasn't enough that he had become a consulting chemical engineer for a firm that charged fees for surreptitiously dumping industrial chemicals for companies whose legal permits were expired or couldn't find sites, but two chemical accidents that Howard had sustained with the self-same compounds prior to becoming a consultant had permanently changed his metabolism. As a curious side effect of the damages to his impaired liver, he had begun exuding a penetrating sour reek after the second accident. Howard soon found it impossible to keep his full time job with the honest recycling company with whom he had been employed and was forced to become a part-time consultant for one of the dirtiest companies in the business. Most people were willing to endure his malodorous presence for a half an hour or so, but suffering him more than thirty minutes was more than the average human could bear. After all, it wasn't as if his coworkers were married to him. His lined, weather-beaten look frightened lesser souls and his gruff, unvarnished social skills could not help counterbalance the social effects of his stench. Howard's difficult personality did nothing to endear him to his coworkers; they were happy to see him go. If he had been able to display some element of suprahumanity, some knowledge or skill beyond the ordinary ken of mortals, his obvious faults would have been temporarily forgotten and they would have flocked to his side despite the rank smell he exuded. Unhappily for Howard's social life, aside from his odor, he was a disgustingly normal male of the human species: He was self-absorbed, vain about his dress and as difficult personally as he was knowledgeable in the chemistry of modern disposal techniques. Howard was an absolute expert in his chosen field. As a consequence, no one had the slightest intention of having anything to do with him aside from the absolute minimum necessary contact to conduct business. His lack of character along with his troublesome personality damned him. His odoriferous condition merely sealed his fate.
A short mid-level managerial conference was secretly held and a plan of action was developed to deal with Howard's problem. Given the laws for medically disadvantaged and handicapped employees, it was felt that simply firing him was out of the question. If they terminated him for any medical reasons other than a demonstrated inability to perform his job professionally, they exposed the company to a potential discrimination suit. If they weren't careful in choosing the means of his termination, Howard could sue the company for both real and punitive damages. They needed a more elegant solution.
Even though they were managers and unused to logical thought, they were able to come up with a workable solution; if they couldn't fire Howard, then they could eliminate his job. They could always ask Human Resources to recreate the position later. No one could castigate them for trying to save the company money by downsizing excess personnel. Each department involved, barring Human Resources, would independently contribute "spontaneous" documentation over a period of a month stating that the engineering support they received from Howard's department was redundant. Since the meeting officially never occurred, it wasn't necessary to order a statistical cost/benefit analysis of the effect of removing a senior engineer's position as it would have been had the departments been operating in concert after mutual consultation. For its contribution to the effort, Howard's department sent a preliminary report stating that Howard seemed to be having difficulties getting along with his colleagues and asked if Human Resources would be willing to fund a course of socialization training for Howard with a psychological resources and development company. They acknowledged that the training would be expensive, but they stated categorically that Howard would have to improve his "people" skills in order to effectively deal with other personnel at the company as well as customers. The noted that although Howard was a recognized expert in disposal, his attitude seemed to have a negative effect on potential clients.
A few weeks later, his department sent a second report to Human Resources stating that they needed funds for additional lower level employees and that they were overstaffed in Chemical Engineers. Human Resources cogitated on the problem for an additional month before they were able to come up with the solution to the overstaffing problem. Howard's job was eliminated forthwith in a brilliant stroke of fiduciary responsibility. Two weeks of severance pay, a letter of recommendation in his hand and a check for his retirement fund was all that Howard got for ten years of loyal labor for the company. Employees, even salaried ones, are considered to be disposable non-capital equipment by modern industry. Howard was out the door as fast as they could humanly process the paperwork for his separation.
A month later, the manager who had recommended his termination admitted his error and pleaded with Human Resources to restore the position Howard had occupied. True to form, the Human Resources Department denied his request, citing the stacks of documentation that the managers of several departments had submitted to rid themselves of Howard's mephitic presence. The manager of Howard's department made due by forcing several other engineers to take work home to compensate for the lost production time. As salaried workers, the chemical engineers were not entitled to compensation for the extra work at home. They performed their additional duties grudgingly, roundly cursing the day Howard had been born. His colleagues would not have permitted his return if a miracle at Lourdes had made him smell like a field of roses at dawn. Their attitude was similar to the villagers at the fabled Castle Frankenstein, i.e., they would have greeted him with sharpened farm implements and blazing torches had it been within their power. His standing in the company had sunk somewhere between an average axe murderer's reputation for community service and the Devil incarnate.
Not coincidentally, a few months later the exhausted engineers made a number of disastrous mistakes on their work at home that were not discovered until several worker's lives were lost. The department who had lost the workers clamored for more accurate engineering reports on their projects before they risked any more personnel. The Human Resources department took a firm stance on hiring another Chemical Engineer. Human Resources maintained that they didn't need more people; the extensive documentation provided by several departments proved that the affected department had all the engineering help it needed. The fact that lives were lost made no difference to the company's Personnel department.
The company's insurance paid the death benefits to the worker's families and its lawyers successfully fended off multiple negligence lawsuits by the relatives of the deceased workers. The State's Tort Laws had been recently re-legislated to prevent frivolous litigation against productive corporations by the pubic. The families' lawyers were hamstrung by the new laws and fell one by one to the company's skilled counselors as they tried the redress the harm caused by the company's gross negligence. Upper management took little notice of the legal actions levied against the company. Under the new State laws, there was no possibility of their success. The worker's deaths didn't affect the bottom line; the court costs incurred had been proactively budgeted for the quarter in case the need arose. Besides, the company's lawyers were salaried.
Howard immediately went to the only other waste disposal company in the area and applied for a position. Although they were fully staffed, they were able to find a place in their company for someone of his obvious talents. They hired him as an outside consultant. They needed an idea man to help them hide the illegally dumped waste from their less than totally ethical clients. The management of the company agreed among themselves that it would not be necessary for Howard to interact with their customers since he wasn't a regular employee. If there was an investigation, it would be easy to conceal his relationship to the company. They would send him out to potential sites and make recommendations on how the site could be best utilized for dumping without laborious and expensive preparation. The company had no interest in constructing high technology multilayered disposal sites that required constant surveillance and maintenance. The company's specialty was one-shot, quickie in-and-out operations conducted with a maximum of security and a minimum of safety for either the workers or the environment. Once the hazardous materials had been entombed, they were hastily concealed and all evidence of the operation was erased. Howard's job was to tell them how to exploit the land's natural features to conceal the illegal waste dump and to maximize the volume of materials that could be hidden. Once he made his report, his involvement with the dump was essentially over. They would bring in their earthmovers manned by illegal immigrants and rapidly excavate a pit. Then the materials would be brought in on trucks with misleading advertising on the sides and emplaced in the pit before the toxin-engorged hole was covered over with the excavated top soil and the bare earth was seeded with a mutated grass that rapidly covered the evidence of their sins. To the casual observer, they were an environmentally conscious landscaping company that had been hired to prepare a site for commercial development. Cleverly designed and attractive wooden signs attested to their fictitious plans and helped maintain the illusion. After a few months, a trusted employee would be sent out to remove the signs as if the deal had fallen through and the proposed commercial development had been canceled.
Only rarely did Howard have to go out to a site when the materials began leaking before the job had been completed. Then he would assess the extent of the spill and make recommendations for its containment until the company could finish the job and vanish like a huckster's pipe dream. Howard survived in consulting for the company by conducting most of his business over the phone or using email. The other workers couldn't smell his presence in the close proximity of a chemical waste dump. Having him come into their office was another matter. There were boundaries that the business community simply would not cross and Howard's medical problem was well beyond the pale of acceptance. He could visit their pristine offices for short periods, but no one had any intention of putting up with the stench of rotting garbage from a permanent employee on a daily basis. He tried mightily to overcome his social affliction by dressing in impeccable Italian made three-piece suits and silk shirts, but to no avail. A gilded garbage can will, no matter how thick the coating of purest gold, still stink!
Howard's wife, Anita, was an extremely patient woman. She had been a research chemist herself before moving into middle management. Her doctorate in pharmacology and her experiences as a scientist had made her deliberate and methodical in everything she did. She rarely moved without garnering a solid consensus of support behind her proposals. As a consequence, her subordinates adored her as a boss who listened carefully to them before she made fools of them all by spouting off to a member of upper management. Management loved her for the unwavering support she gave their goals. She could always find a way to accomplish the ends which they had in mind. She would listen to their needs for hours on end and then retreat to her department to have a conference with her subordinates, then emerge a day, perhaps two days later, with a salient plan. Invariably, her plans succeeded.
She was patient with her husband as well. She understood that the tragedy that had stuck his body was not completely of his making. Before the accidents he had been excruciatingly careful about observing State and Federal pollution laws. But after he had lost his job, he had changed. It wasn't merely the stench that his body produced after he had absorbed the toxic chemicals; he had lost all respect for the rule of law. Once the petite legalisms of equal employment for the disadvantaged had been revealed for the paper tigers they were, he had become embittered with society's mores and took a positive delight in screwing the system that had damned him. If the business world didn't have to play by the rules, neither did he.
Howard rightly recognized that the country's laws had been skillfully twisted by the armies of lawyers that worked for the rich and powerful. Only the small and weak had to obey the laws. The change in the country's laws couldn't have been said to have been gradual. There had been no question from the start that the rich had no intention of letting the great unwashed have a hand in governing the country. The Jeffersonian ideals of an agrarian democracy were throttled in their infancy by the evil twins of Federalism and elective representation.
Democracy was a dream that never materialized in fact, it had remained as a semi-religious faith that the public was encouraged to embrace but was never actualized in law or custom. The country's founders were so frightened of popular votes that they invented the concept of an electoral college, where propertied white male voters would ostensibly cast their vote for a candidate, but in reality they were voting for hand-picked political stooges who could change their minds (if the threats or bribes were sufficiently large enough) and throw the election to the candidate who had lost the popular vote. The poll tax and the requirements of property ownership for voting had only been part of the first shots across the bow of the free ship of state. The wealthy of young America had more potent weapons at their disposal. With the lubrication of money, the wheels of state could be turned in their direction. The military could act as a proxy for the rich and execute their murderous wishes without breaking any laws. George Washington himself broke the backs of the farmers who dared to store their corn crops without paying the whiskey tax. The whiskey tax was an ill-disguised attempt to control the annual output of farmers by siphoning part of their annual income through an excise tax. Before the invention of storage silos, American farmers had to convert their surplus crops to the only commodity that couldn't be attacked by insects or didn't rot in the heat, i.e., whiskey. Once government proved it could reduce the populace to subsistence level at the point of a gun, the stage was set for the next lesson in political reality.
The Pullman strike in the late eighteen hundreds proved that government had even less concern for the welfare of railroad workers that it had shown earlier for American farmers. Slavery by race was illegal, but wage slavery by social class was part of the American economy and was heavily defended by the United States government. The army was employed again after WWII to control the striking mine workers of the insanely dangerous coal mines of West Virginia with machine guns and put the last nail in freedom's coffin. After all, the government felt, it wasn't as if the slaves hadn't been warned. National Guard armories had been built in every major city to provided storage depots for military weapons in the event of civil insurrection against the tyranny of the rich. During President Eisenhower's reign, a system of Interstate highways was constructed to facilitate the transport of tanks and artillery to population centers if the mailed fist of government had to be used to quell rioting among the justly outraged citizenry.
The public was a disposable asset from both the government's and business's viewpoint. Like lambs to the slaughter, their income was seized by fiat by the Internal Revenue department even though the amendment to the Constitution that legalized the nefarious government theft of wealth from the public had never been properly ratified by the requisite number of states. Illegal IRS courts were instituted that ignored the basic rights guaranteed by the first ten amendments of the Constitution. The Napoleonic concept of presumed guilt was made a matter of policy in the IRS courts. The right of trial by jury was ignored, as well as the concept of precedent, freedom from seizure without court order and the right of legal council. As far as the IRS was concerned, the Constitution didn't exist. The IRS wrote the administrative law, judged the offenders and executed the sentence. There was no appeal except through the IRS courts. The IRS was above the law and the Constitution. When Congress objected, they told the assembled politicians that if the IRS had to obey the Constitution, they would be hamstrung. Money would stop flowing in to fund the porkbarrel projects that kept the politicos in office. The committee looked at each other and saw their political demise if the money to their districts stopped flowing. The nodded in silent agreement with each other and ruled that the IRS could continue in its activities despite the clear violations of almost every article of the Constitution. Law was one thing and political reality was another. The odious activities of the IRS were allowed to continue unhindered by law, common sense or custom.
Legislation was passed to allow the FBI to spy upon the personal lives and politics of the public. To insure that the egregious invasions of privacy by the FBI could not be reported by the theoretically free American press, a law was passed making the act of using the FBI's name in print or film illegal unless the FBI gave its consent. The fact that the Director of the FBI bragged to everyone he met that he had incriminating photos and records of every member of Congress had nothing to do with the alacrity with which Congress passed the law. The Congressmen were only doing their public duty.
No one even wanted to talk about the Federal Reserve System. Ostensibly, it was an arm of the Federal government, but in reality it was a privately owned corporation whose shares sold for fifty thousand dollars apiece by Federal law. Money was "sold" to the Federal Reserve System at the cost of printing, i.e., each banknote, had an average cost of .0183 cents each in nineteen-sixty-nine and rose only slight over the proceeding years, no matter what the denomination of the banknote. The Federal Reserve Banks lent the money at a rate determined by the Chairman of the Reserve System, and skimmed off two percent for "management" purposes, i.e., administrative and dividends to the "investors". By law, the Banks were permitted to lend ten times the amount of money they had "purchased" from the Treasury. In other words, the government "gave" money to the rich to be "sold" to the poor for interest rates determined by the rich. Instead of being a fair-minded arm of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve System was a charity program for the ultra-rich. It was an exclusive "club" whose fees merely required a minimum of fifty thousand dollars worth of pocket money to buy a single share of stock. The people who were members of this exclusive "club" were most often the ones who complained the loudest about how much money government was spending on feeding and clothing the poor. Unknown to the American populace, the rich were the largest consumers of public "welfare" in the Unites States. It was unfortunate for America as a whole that the public never realized their error in trusting the government. The trust built by two World Wars had distorted the traditional American suspicion of government. The currency of the time had "In God We Trust" stamped on the face of each coin or banknote. The public should have prayed for release from the bonds of the fiat currency that the government had knowingly shackled them with. Indeed, prayer was the only true answer to the tyranny under which they labored. In short, the public needed a miracle to be free again.
The army gave selected servicemen disorienting doses of LSD without their knowledge as part of their MK-Ultra program and discharged them when the psychogenic effects of massive doses of the hallucinogenic drug made them unfit soldiers. At the same time, the Army was running an illegal covert surveillance campaign against antiwar activists in the United States and conducting a "War of Attrition" by assassinating people suspected of being left wing sympathizers in Vietnam in an operation code-named "Phoenix". When the land war in Vietnam bogged down against a determined populace, the military began aerial spraying of the rain forest with a defoliant named Agent Orange. Despite the fact that the FDA had ruled that Dioxin, the main constituent of Agent Orange, was one of the most carcinogenic substances known to man and had made its use illegal within the United States, the military continued to insist that the application of Agent Orange was safe in the presence of friendly soldiers. When a multitude of birth defects and illnesses appeared in the progeny of the ex-servicemen who had served in operational theatres saturated with Agent Orange, the military refused to admit to fault. Tens of thousands of ex-military became ill from exposure but the government refused to accept responsibility for the metabolic poisonings. It was too expensive to take the blame, therefore nothing happened. The military stated flatly that Agent Orange was harmless, case closed! The absolute rule of honor taught by the military academies vanished without a whimper. The concept of military honor became an object of derision among the people who knew what was happening. The last refuge of a gentleman of breeding and a fine education was gone. All that was left in America's military were ill-prepared managers and military politicians to order about the gutter sweepings who enlisted because they couldn't find a better paying job elsewhere.
Amidst the carnage of a government run wild, the CIA filled the subways of the world's largest city with an infectious virus to test the spread of biological agents. If that weren't enough, they engaged University professors to see if the American mind could be broken by subliminal suggestion and reprogramming. Hundreds of unsuspecting college students in both the United States and Canada were hired at minimum wage as test animals for their experiments. The object of the experiment was to determine if adults could be regressed to an infantile state of consciousness to destroy the cortical censors that allowed them to keep secrets. Once they were reduced to effective infancy, they reasoned the subjects could be questioned like small children. As a result of the experiment, the majority of subjects experienced somewhat untoward side-effects. Many began sucking their thumbs at stressful times and became incontinent. Some of the subjects found it impossible to relearn toilet training and had to live out their lives in diapers. There were a number of suicides among the subjects as a consequence of the experiment's effects. The experiment was hushed up and the results filed away for future reference. The bureaucrats in charge of the experiment took the long view. Someday it might be useful for the government to be able to turn a man into an adult infant. They viewed the dead and incapacitated subjects as legitimate casualties of the Cold War.
Atomic Energy Agency fed plutonium to helpless mentally defective children to see how radiation would affect their development and stood by idly transcribing the details of their pitiful deaths as their metabolisms curdled under the influence of the world's most powerful toxin. Other agencies engaged in experiments to horrible to mention in even impolite society. The rulers had run amok and began figuratively eating the young of society. Unlike Dicken's Parris of the French Revolution, it could not have been characterized as "Öthe best of times and the worst of timesÖ" Frankly, it was an evil time for all those who didn't sit in the catbird seat. The twentieth century had seen government sponsored horrors loosed upon the world without end. The truth was obvious for those who hadn't blindfolded themselves with the flag and had dulled their minds with the unswerving, monomaniacal patriotism that the government expected of its citizen slaves.
The day of the legal supremacy of the individual and personal freedom had been over since the civil war. Police beatings and murders were common as was the "planting" of evidence to convict innocent people who had angered the powers that ruled. During the nineteen-fifties and sixties, homosexual men could be imprisoned and legally castrated for expressing their sexuality. Mentally retarded citizens were commonly sterilized by the states. Corporations routinely bribed city governments to use the right of immanent domain to seize privately owned land and property for corporate use. If an individual complained too loudly, he or she was likely to be taken by the police to a mental hospital where the right of habeas corpus was a standing joke among the staff. After being forcibly tranquilized by two hundred milligrams of Thorzine or Haldol in the buttocks, the miscreant could be given a variety of "medical" treatments; electrodes could be placed on the "patient's" temples and an electric current passed through the frontal lobes of the brain, or alternatively, the "patient" could be given a deliberate overdose of insulin to cause the patient to go into insulin shock. Multiple shock treatments of either type would produce confusion, amnesia and frequently reduced intelligence by a notable percentage. Usually the confusion and more profound amnesic memory losses would subside after a few months. If the patient's intelligence had been affected, as often happened, it never returned. If the "patient" was truly difficult, i.e., the "patient" refused to recognize the right of society to destroy his mind and manipulate his political reality, he was sedated and an icepick was driven with a wooden mallet through the bony obit of the eye socket and its tip swirled around to scramble the frontal lobes of the brain. The result of such treatment was to produce an individual who was "safe" for re-entrance into society, i.e., they were incapable of raising either public or private protest. Patients treated in this way were often turned into mumbling, shambling incontinent idiots who were utterly incapable of caring for themselves. Judges would nod sagely when these poor wrecks were docilely led into their presence and order them incarcerated in state mental hospitals to live out the span of their days under state care. Mercifully, state care was so poor that they died of malnutrition or bacterial infections caused by bedsores within a few years.
Mere thieves were treated like merchant princes by comparison. Felons were no danger to the state; after all, they were engaged in the self-same activities that the government engaged in daily, i.e., they stole an individual's goods and income without the victim's permission. Politicians saw felons as independent competitors in the time-honored industry of stealing from the public and punished them by putting them out of business for a time. Those felons who were perceptive enough to put politicians on their payroll before the eyes of the law turned in their direction were almost never arrested. Felons who made large contributions to political parties and senators obviously weren't misguided slaves or proletarian competitors, they were part of the ruling class and deserved the same royal treatment that senators and congressmen demanded for themselves. Politicians regarded the Lords of Evil as entrepreneurs that skirted closer to the edge than most of their fellows. It was the petite felon who bore the brunt of political rhetoric. Despite the heated bombast levied against criminals, politicians weren't really angry with small felons as a group; they had too much in common with them not to feel a certain camaraderie of spirit. While it was true that felons risked being beaten and homosexually raped by their fellow inmates in prison, politicians were forced to endure the much the same sort of threat on a legislative level in the political arena. Rapes and beatings by amoral colleagues in either profession were considered to be an accepted job hazard both of politicos and criminals.
The powerful could do as they pleased, wrecking havoc on communities and individual lives without let or hindrance. If an individual was harmed by a company, the evidence would be erased and employees were blackmailed into denying the company's involvement. Well-paid lawyers aggressively manned the breaches in any of the company's defenses that were broached and prevented any action inimical to the company's interests. They smothered the fires of torts by dumping torrents of paperwork through the legal murder holes of the protected heights of their teflon towers to drown the unsuspecting attackers below. The flames caused by their oilily-worded countersuits that spewed unceasingly from the free-flowing spouts above the crowd consumed most of the angry attackers in legal firestorms and left them in fiscal ruin.
Howard had wisely chosen to husband his resources and seek employment elsewhere, despite the injuries to his body and soul. Battle was futile against such a well protected enemy. There was nothing he could do but move on with his life. There was no question he had been wronged. Howard had been removed from his job and been denied recompense for the damage that had been inflicted on his abused metabolism. He could hardly be blamed for his anger. The chemicals had done more than make him reek, they had unmanned him. His testes had been damaged along with his liver and made him sterile. When he had found out that he couldn't have children, it had almost destroyed his self-respect. Anita got the impression that he felt that a man who couldn't father children was somehow less than a man. The resultant dissonance in his personality had made him psychologically impotent as well.
Anita tried to make the best of it. It wasn't his fault that he couldn't have children, but his attitude made life with him difficult. Instead of accepting the damage to his person and getting on with life, he seemed to withdraw into himself and sequester a kernel of anger with the world. He became extremely selfish and self-centered. After the accident, Howard seemed to expect Anita to wait on him hand and foot, despite the fact that Anita worked more hours than he did. Once the possibility of fatherhood was out of reach for him, he made a unilateral decision that they would remain childless. Anita's wish to be a mother was not considered in his decision. He couldn't understand that having come from a Catholic home with an abundance of children, Anita didn't feel like her home was truly a woman's home unless there was a baby to care for. She had been taught from an early age that babies give definition to a woman's life and justify her existence before God. As a child, she had grown up caring for her baby brothers. All her life she had wanted a baby of her own to care for and nurture.
Howard refused to even contemplate the idea of letting Anita become artificially inseminated so she could bear a child. He became dictatorial in their home, demanding perfect obedience to his will. She believed that he was trying to compensate for his inability to make love by demonstrating his dominance at home. Anita was saddened by both his autocratic attitude and his sterility. She felt that in time, she could make him feel comfortable enough to make love without him having to resort to petty tyranny. Anita was willing to forgo her lifelong dream of being a mother if she could only have her loving husband returned to her. Sometimes though, when Howard was being difficult, she wondered if she should take a lesbian lover so that she could have someone sympathetic to talk to and have the opportunity for some kind of sex. She had several bisexual relationships when she was in college and had missed the intimate company of women when she got married to Howard. The Chief of Research at her company was an avowed lesbian and had made it clear that she would be happy for Anita to share her bed. Anita had gently refused the offer, saying that as long as she was married to Howard, she wouldn't be unfaithful to him.
After the accidents made him impotent, Howard took to pointing out the social differences between men and women as if they were justification for the discrimination that society leveled at women. He would tell her at least once a day that, "I'm the one who wears the pants in the family and that I'll be damned if I'll listen to some fool woman's half-baked opinions." He would go on to rant that, "The only time a man has to listen to a woman's orders is when he's a babe in diapers and I have no intention of letting ANY woman, ("Especially my wife, for God's sake!", he would usually mutter to himself in a tiresome aside.) tell me what to do!"
Despite Howard's irritating male chauvinism, Anita was secretly amused to see that he suffered from a severe case of male dependence and helplessness. Howard was completely unable to care for himself without her assistance. The only dishes he knew how to prepare for himself were sandwiches and cereal. Unlike most men, he had never mastered the arcane art of barbeque cookery. He couldn't even make a can of soup without scorching the pot and making a mess on the stove. When it came to doing laundry, he was absolutely hopeless. He seemed incapable of putting his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper or putting away his clean clothes. Howard even had trouble dressing himself in the mornings. Every morning Anita would dutifully help him get dressed and knot his tie for him. He couldn't even find matching socks without her assistance, much less color coordinate a shirt with a tie. Howard even needed her assistance to bathe himself. She had to come in and scrub his back for him whenever he took a bath. Sometimes Anita felt like she had married an overgrown preschooler rather than the man who had asked her to marry him. She was well aware that his chauvinism was only a psychological defense against the feelings of insecurity and helplessness he had buried in the innermost reaches of his being. Despite his expertise in his field, he had been put out to pasture the moment his presence had irritated management. He had discovered that he was unneeded and disposable, a mere bagatelle to be dispensed with the moment good taste and sense prevailed. She knew his bullying was only his way of demonstrating to himself that he was still a man. Anita put up with his childish tantrums, picking up after him when she got home from work and silently enduring his chauvinistic dictums without uttering a word of defense or criticism.
Anita had always had to make the important decisions about their household. Aside from his love of flashy gold jewelry and fine Italian suits, Howard had no taste. His idea of interior decorating would have been to use an empty telephone cable spool for a coffee table and to hang an oil painting on black velvet depicting John Wayne on the wall. Howard wasn't merely uncouth, he simply had no conception of what couth was. The very concept of color coordination and style matching was beyond his keen. If the salesmen at the men's store where he purchased his suits had a sense of humor, they could have sold him orange checked suits and he'd have never have discovered the joke. He would have been as happy in a tar-papered shack if he could have his TV, air conditioning and his beer as he was in their superbly appointed home.
Anita was of a different mettle altogether. She wanted her life and her surroundings to reflect an harmonious whole. She eschewed the current fashions and sought those things that pleased her. The furnishings in the house were a mirror of her personality; solid, time-honored and dependable. She had no place in her home for the light airy elegance of Queen Anne or even the more solid Chippendale. Her kitchen table had been erroneously labeled "Mission" style at the furniture outlet, even though it was clearly a derivation of Spanish Colonial. Frankly, it was a trestle table constructed of solid masses of oaken plank in the manner of medieval monasteries rather than being a modern reproduction of a Spanish Colonial piece. The scars of normal living on its upper surface only served to enhance its attractiveness, much like the few silver hairs in mature Anita's coiffure lent character to her appearance. Nevertheless, the scrapes and discolorations of use fit in well with the heavy dark oaken furniture with which she populated each room. The house itself was constructed in a Ranch style, which was appropriate for the Southwestern area in which they lived. Howard had been indifferent to the design of the house when they purchased it, he was only interested in the price and mortgage payments. When Anita suggested that they zeroscape the landscaping to reduce the impact on the ecology, Howard had agreed without rancor. He had no interest in spending his weekends mowing laws and gardening. Rocks and desert plants that required little fuss or watering were fine with him. A house was only a place to toss his dirty clothes at the end of the day and watch a little tube before dinner. He cared next to nothing about the house that Anita had chosen and was glad that she had the good sense to arrange things so that its management would be as simple as possible.
Instead of using the more traditional red color associated with Spanish Colonial, Anita had chosen to decorate her house in forest greens and a dark beige that bordered on being brown. The colors blended well with her indoor plants and gave the impression of growing things even though their front yard was populated with white gravel, yuccas and cacti rather than the water-slurping St. Augustine carpet grass of their neighbors. At first their male neighbors had howled about their landscaping scheme, but after the first summer of grass-browning, root-deadening, scorching heat, they changed their collective minds and decided that the immaculate look of their yard wasn't as awful as they had imagined. Of course, being men, that wasn't all that changed their puny, self-righteous minds.
After church on Sundays, some of Anita's female friends from the neighborhood would come over to a light brunch of rolls and coffee. Anita would make croissants, orange coffee rolls and miniature quiches to serve her friends in the kitchen while Howard amused himself with Sunday sports programming on the TV. Along with her fresh-ground, filter-brewed Brazilian coffee, her bunches allayed the ill will of the neighborhood and solidified her position in the local community as a woman of merit. She always bought candy from the neighborhood children during fund-raising periods and could be counted on for assistance whenever the other women needed her. Never had she refused a request for an egg or a cup full of sugar. As a neighbor, she was a gem. It didn't take long for the wives in the neighborhood to convince their husbands that Anita's presence was an asset to the community and that their grumblings over the "house with no lawn" were unfounded. Indeed, after hearing Anita talk about the reduced water bills and seeing the water invoices themselves, several of the women convinced their husbands to zeroscape their landscapes as well. It was only sensible to adapt to the ecology rather than fight it. Anita made friends early in their residency.
Howard was oblivious to his wife's activities. All he wanted was to be left alone to his own devices. He could care less about neighbors and their idiotic opinions on how he should lead his life. If he was able to drink his brew on Sundays and watch TV without lifting a finger, he was happy. All he cared about was work. The bloody neighbors could go hang themselves for all he cared. Immediately after he had allowed Anita to hire a landscaping company to zeroscape their lawn, a delegation of male neighbors had paid a call on him to protest his selection of landscaping materials. They agreed he was well within his rights under his purchase contract to landscape in whatever way he wished, but they pleaded with him to change his mind. Howard didn't care one wit how the lawn was landscaped, but their insistent demands irritated him beyond endurance. He went to the closet and loaded a shell into the legally sawed-off "Sidewinder" shotgun he kept secreted for emergencies and came back into the family room with the shotgun riding over his arm to order them out of his house. Several of the men sputtered that they would have the law on him. Howard smiled as he rested the butt of the shotgun firmly on his hip and replied calmly that if they refused to leave, then that constituted legal evidence that he was correct in using force to evict them from his household. Then he leveled the short barrel of the shotgun threateningly and motioned them out of the room and his house at the point of his shotgun. They left and never darkened his door again. Howard became a pariah in his neighborhood. He didn't give a tinker's damn in Hell what they thought. He was an engineer and one of the best in the business. The attitudes formed in his childhood on the farm held fully sway. It was his land and he would do as he willed; his neighbor's objections meant less than nothing to him.
To insure that everyone in the neighborhood knew how he felt, he told Anita to repeat them to her friends at her next Sunday brunch. When she demurred and said she couldn't possibly repeat his words to her friends, Howard printed them up on his computer's printer and posted his statement to the front door for the world to read. Howard's statement read, "To whom it may concern. I have a right by law and custom to landscape the way I wish. If you don't like it, then fuck you and the horse you rode in on! This is my property and I'll do as I please. If you don't like it, you can stick your opinions where the Sun don't shine. Get off of my property! Trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law! You have been warned! Begone!"
Anita pleaded with him to remove the sign, but to no avail. The sign stayed up until Howard was positive that everyone in the neighborhood knew his sentiments in the matter. Fortunately, Anita's failure to mend Howard's ways didn't affect her standing in the community. Everyone felt sorry for the woman who was married to the antisocial, egregious shotgun-toting bastard who lived down the street. It was common knowledge what a nice woman Anita was. Everyone waved in greeting when they saw her driving through their quiet neighborhood. No one ever waved at Howard. Howard they feared. The women of the neighborhood told themselves, their husbands and anyone else who had patience enough to listen to their noisome complaints that Howard was dangerous to polite society.
After a while the dust settled and Howard was accepted as a member of the community. True, he wasn't liked, but his manly defense of his rights had impressed many of the men after they had some time to discuss it with each other. Men being the inveterate storytellers they are, each time the story was told Howard was cast in a more heroic stance. The embellishments that were invariably added served to make the minor incident more important in their minds. Howard had completely forgotten about it after making his point with the notice on the door. By elevating Howard in their thinking as the perfect example of American Manhood, they increased their own perception of their stature as males. They liked their pseudo-remembered image of Howard standing in his family room with a loaded shotgun perched on his hip like John Wayne in "True Grit" and telling them in his gravelly voice it was time to leave. It made them feel like men because they had been dangerous enough as a group to invoke his manly response. They forgave him the insult and decided as a group to allow him the benefit of the doubt. Of course, this was after their wives had brunched several times over at Anita's house after the incident and they had been counseled by their wives about Howard's upbringing and personal problems.
The neighborhood husbands chalked his actions up to a typical male's overreaction to women's interference and let it go at that. They had only gone over to his house because their wives had insisted they do something. Hell, the majority of them would have been happy to have a house with no lawn! The only reason they kept theirs up was to kept their wives off their backs. If Howard had managed to talk his wife into having white gravel instead of a lush green lawn, then more power to him! It sure as Hell kept the water bills down and allowed him more time to watch football on the weekends! Howard wasn't worth the effort to stay mad at and he hadn't really done anything wrong. It wasn't as if he had actually shot someone. He had merely asked them to leave in a way that commanded respect and instant obedience from other men. He had every right to do what he did. Only a namby-pamby, pantywaisted, ball-less liberal would object to Howard's handling of the problem. Didn't cops carry shotguns? Did they hesitate to threaten ne'er-do-wells with firearms to secure the peace? Screw their wives' opinions! They had no understanding of how men thought or deal with each other! With the number of neighborhood houses that had started zeroscaping as a consequence of Howard's example, it was a moot point anyhow.
Of course, no one ever forgot the loaded sawed-off shotgun Howard used to defend his property rights. They left him strictly alone. Howard had done what they would've liked to think they'd have done in his place. He had proved to every male in the community that he was Lord and Master of his home. No one doubted who wore the pants in his family! Howard may not have been a shining example of community spirit, but he evidenced the highest ideals of American Manhood. John Wayne would have been proud of his example! Men told their sons to beware of playing football in Howard's domain or inadvertently damaging one of Howard's cars by their street play. One assaulted Howard's castle at their own risk. In their eyes, Howard was a real man.
Not only did Howard not give a tinker's damn about the landscape, he didn't give a damn about the color scheme of the house either. Anita could decorate the house as she pleased. If forest green was what made her happy, than it was acceptable to him. He might have objected to Shocking Pink or a Fruity Lavender as a color motif, but the forest green Anita had chosen was reminiscent of the green tights (Rendered as dark grey on the black and white display of the pre-color TV of his childhood, but often described in lurid detail in the program's dialog.) worn by the hero of his youth, Richard Green. As a child he had often imagined himself being a green-garbed outlaw pursued by an inept and stupid shire sheriff. Lincoln green was a comfortable color for him to be surrounded with. Unconsciously, he associated the color with the security of being hidden from "official" eyes and being cared for by the bounty of the forest.
The dark wood of the oak furniture Anita had chosen and the green color of the décor had fit in perfectly with Howard's unconscious desires. He never remembered how contented he was watching "Robin Hood" on the floor in his diapers in front of the TV while munching on animal crackers as a tot. His inflexible fundamentalist mother fumed daily with her equally intolerant friends at their morning coffee klatch that the ungrateful wretch of a child had been unable to master toilet-training at the advanced age of two years. All he could remember of that time was a love of independence that his hero had so boldly demonstrated to his young audience. The concept of freedom of action was inculcated into Howard's personality at an early age. Robin Hood didn't have a mommy to make HIM take a nap! He was free to do as he pleased! No King or woman (even a mommy) bounded Robin Hood's actions!
As a result of Howard's indifference to the décor of the household and its décor, Anita's desires held full sway. Everything of importance that was made of fabric, from the bath towels to the comforter on the bed, was a lush shade of forest green. When she couldn't find th exact shade of deep green that she needed, she substituted a Lincoln green instead. After a time, the house took on a verdant, luxuriant look of a primeval forest. The dark rich walnuts and red mahoganies of the pseudo-Mission furnishings combined with the forest greens to transform their abode into a welcoming cave of forest delight. For Anita, the house symbolized home and all the love she had invested in their marriage. The dark wood colors denoted the deep-rooted strength of her beliefs while the greens symbolized her feelings of love and hope. Not coincidentally, Anita had come from a wooden-floored home with a strong Irish-Catholic background. The shade of forest green she had selected unconsciously was the exact shade of green that her parents had hung about their house every St. Patrick's Day in a fit of patriotic Irish fervor. Although she had stopped going to Mass in college and never returned, she found the color she selected for her décor gave her the same feelings of security that she had had as a child.
For Howard, their home represented a place of refuge against a world that had ceased caring about his welfare when he was four years old. The smell of Anita's cooking forged the strongest bond he had ever made to another person. His mother had plied him with CoolAid and cookies through his early years to keep him quiet and made dinner out of cans and jars when absolute necessity forced her to feed him something reasonably nutritious. Howard's mother detested children and all the woes they brought upon a God-fearing house. If sex was a sin as she had been taught in her Bible class, then children were the Devil's spawn. Surely the foul issue from their silky bottoms was a sign of the origin of their inequity. The supposed innocence of infants was only a ploy by the Devil to inure God-fearing women into accepting the Devil's work. She knew instinctively that the rank odor of pee and poop were the Devil's perfume. Diapers and the changing thereof were an acceptance of the Devil's influence in the world. She had heard tales from other women of her church's flock that some perverted men actually enjoyed pretending to be babies and shat in their dydees as if they were incontinent infants. There was no question in her narrow mind that such things were ungodly at their source. She had only given in to sin once in her life and Howard had been the result. She firmly believed that Howard was a divine retribution visited upon her for her sins. She was glad when the opportunity arose to foist Howard off on a near relative who needed extra hands to work on the farm. HHoward's diet had improved once he had moved to the farm, but there was no love, no motherly concern to help him through childhood's travails.
Anita was the first woman who had deigned to care for Howard. To him, Anita symbolized all that was needed by a man. Whenever Anita cooked, the inviting aroma of fresh sweet onions pan-frying and burgundy-soaked forest crimini mushrooms baking in the oven filled the family room with the rich fragrance of fecund forest soil in springtime. While Howard wasn't big on bread, the smell of whole wheat buñelos caramelizing as they crisped to a golden brown in the oven made him slaver with anticipation. Howard would ask Anita several times each evening when dinner was going to be done as he sniffed his dinner of sirloin hamburger steaks browning in the skillet and Mountain King Gold potatoes baking to butter-like perfection in the microwave. Howard lusted after Anita's potatoes. Anita had a secret to cooking her potatoes; she would wipe each of them carefully with the precious beef drippings garnered from the previous night's steaks before putting them in her microwave. Then, just before they were fully done, when they had reached the stage of flaky softness that presaged the last moments before utter perfection, she would remove the potatoes from the microwave and gently squeeze them in a kitchen towel to break up the large fragments before they became overdone. Once the potatoes had been mashed within their skins, she would push in the ends with her fingers to finish the job and return them to the microwave to complete cooking. Anita's potatoes always had the superb fully-cooked, creamy texture with the slightly nutty taste baked into the skin that is the hallmark of the best offering of a master chef to a man who enjoys beef and potatoes. It was a lucky epicure who was able to sample her culinary art. Howard felt that only someone truly blessed by God could eat her potatoes every day. The skins were soft and redolent with the aroma of baked potatoes and beef. Anita's baked potatoes were heavenly. Even had other reasons not presented themselves to bind her to him, Howard would have married her for her mastery of the art of cooking potatoes alone.
It didn't matter to Howard that the sheets and pillow covers were forest green, he never realized how his unconscious interpreted the symbolism. All Howard was concerned with was his work and his pleasures. The higher elements of correspondence with universal color symbols had never occurred to him. He was a chemical engineer, not an alchemist or a scholar of dead or forgotten knowledge. He was ignorant of the magick of the colors that Anita wove around him like a fleecy green baby's blanket. For that matter, Anita was ignorant of the details of the arcane art of Earth magick too, she only knew what was right to do. She had been trained as a pharmacologist, and from time immemorial pharmacists had given their patients their concoctions without understanding the biological mechanisms that made them worthwhile. They handed their preparations to their patients only knowing their medicaments had provided relief to the greater majority of individuals who had come to them for assistance. Anita had done the best she could with the elements she had on hand. She would have done more if it were in her power. Anita wanted to make their home a happy and contented place for the both of them and did her best to see that everything was as commodious as possible.
Even though she managed the daily affairs of their household, Anita had no desire to wear the pants in the family. She completely enjoyed the role of being a woman and had no desire to usurp her husband's position. She felt that a woman was better off achieving her aims through a quiet expression of helpfulness and understanding instead of bossing her family about. The management techniques she employed at work produced a harmonious consensus rather than force her to issue dictates to be blindly followed. The end result, she felt, was much the same except that the rancor and hurt feelings that ensued from direct orders did not occur. It was profoundly unfortunate that the same techniques didn't work with Howard. The only solution was abject surrender to his demands. Howard had learned from the men on the farm of his childhood that men were the absolute masters of the Earth and their homes. He had been taught that neither plagues of insects nor the willful whims of women should deter a man from the course he had set for himself. He felt that it was only proper for Anita to subordinate her desires to his needs. Compromise was unacceptable. He was the supreme master of his demesne.
Their life together went on in this vein for almost two years without change. Howard wasn't a bad man nor did he ignore her, they regularly went on long walks in the park and often went to the movies on the weekends. Granted, during Football season he was glued to the set, but that wasn't unusual among her married neighbors and acquaintances. Howard took out the trash without her asking him most of the time and was good about working on the plumbing and the cars. If they rarely went out to restaurants, it was because he didn't like the cooking and he was always unhappy with the price of a quality meal. When Anita was too tired to cook, he was happy to drive up to a burger joint to get a dinner of hamburgers for their dinner. He rarely forgot their anniversary and never forgot her birthday. After the first five years of marriage, he even learned to leave the seat down on the toilet. Anita couldn't even complain about the way he squeezed toothpaste. Having an engineer's love of ingenious gadgets, he had bought toothpaste tube rollers early in their marriage. He recycled like a religious eco-freak too; he had put both a can crusher and garbage compactor in their house. He would gather up the coke and beer cans twice a week in an old plastic milk case he had bought at a flee market and crush them to an inch thickness in the can crusher mounted on the wall of the garage above a plastic kitchen garbage can. Once it was full, he would empty the can into a forty gallon lawn and leaf bag and store it until it became full. Then he would unload the bag into the garbage compactor and compress it at maximum pressure until he had an almost solid block of aluminum. Once a year, he would take sixty to eighty pounds of aluminum blocks to a recycling company and sell them.
Anita satisfied herself with her achievements at work and waited patiently for Howard to make the adjustment to his changed metabolism. Life at her corporation had become increasingly more exciting during this period. Anita's company, a small pharmaceutical firm, was on the verge of completing work on a revolutionary product for foreign sale. The new drug was in the final stage of testing and promised to make a fortune for the company. As the middle manager in charge of the project, Anita had shepherded the drug from its initial testing through its final stages. Her insight and inspired management in guiding the new pharmaceutical had cut years and millions of dollars from the drug's development. The President of the company had been so pleased with her performance that she had quietly promised Anita that when the last tests were completed on the drug, Anita would be promoted to the ranks of upper management. Within six months, Anita would be the Vice-President in charge of research.
Anita looked forward to the raise in pay and the opportunity the new position would give her to have a baby. Howard's expensive tastes in clothes left little in their paychecks to spend after the bills were paid. After he had gotten his job consulting, he had gone out and bought a Yukon Suburban with all the accessories without discussing his extravagant purchase with her. Anita had been furious with his fiscal recklessness but had never said a word of reproach in his presence. She knew that a man had to have his "toys" or he wouldn't be happy. Anita made do and cut household expenses to make up the difference. They weren't poor, but money was tight. She wore old bras underneath her dresses and took bag lunches to work. As a manager, Anita was used to making a department work on less than optimal funding, so she had no difficulty making adjustments at home. Of course, like any good money manager, she had a plan to increase future profits. She had taken every extra dollar from her pay to buy company stock in anticipation of the enormous profits the firm would reap from the new drug's release. If events moved the way she expected, she and her husband would be extremely wealthy within the next year. The President of the company had been very understanding about her need to become a mother and had promised her that she would be given tremendous latitude in her working hours after her promotion. It was the least the company could do, the President said, after Anita's contributions to the company. She had not informed Howard of her investments in her company. She had the bad feeling that if Howard had discovered the extra money, he would spend it on something foolish. She knew that her efforts wouldn't be in vain, in six months at most they would recoup her investment tenfold. Anita went to work and put her nose to the grindstone every day happily, knowing that she had done her level best to provide for their future. If Howard had been able to regain his health, her life would have been perfect. As it was, Anita spent every spare minute trying to come up with a solution to Howard's medical problems.
Changes in the World Economy
Dateline: Sunday Oct 03, 2010
Excerpt From a Major Television News Program:
<After the network news logo disappears, the scene dissolves to a distracted looking Dan Blather. To the right of the Anchor, the video engineer has superimposed a graphic to empathize the monetary changes. Next to the Anchor, a computer generated graphic showing the symbol of the EuroMark adjacent to an arrow pointing up is displayed along with the symbol of the Yen is portrayed with a downward pointed arrow to the right and positioned lower on the video "page".>
Dan Blather looks up from the papers on his desk and says, "In tonight's news, the EuroMark reaches new highs against the U.S. dollar while the Yen continues its decline as Japanese property values in the seismically-stressed region force major companies to find new quarters in less dangerous areas. We will present a detailed report from our financial correspondent, Juan Dinero, later in our broadcast.
In our first story, epidemics of previously unknown diseases are racing around the globe. Scientists believe that the clear-cutting of the world's rain forests has caused outbreaks of unknown diseases to emerge into the general population of Third World countries causing millions of deaths. Custom officials are scrambling to identify the source countries so that appropriate quarantines may be invoked. Epidemiologists at the Center for Disease Control fear that the plans for containment of the epidemics to the Third World may already be too late to stop the new plagues. Air travel has reduced travel times from other continents down to mere hours and made identification of infected passengers nearly impossible. By the time the incubation period has passed, the passengers have dispersed into the local population, spreading whatever disease they are carrying to hundreds of people.
Within the Third World itself, the uninfected minority, mostly the upper middle class, high ranking military officers and the wealthy, are surviving because their cloistered existence in their guarded villas keep exposure to the infected groups in their own countries to a minimum. These same groups are seizing the opportunity presented by the outbreaks to buy up epidemic decimated and abandoned land for investment purposes. Economic historians say that the same phenomena occurred during the Middle Ages during the Black Plague as the value of land and goods fell because of the paucity of inheritors tended to concentrate goods among a few survivors. Third World rubber and sugar plantations are going bankrupt for lack of workers as the price of labor has zoomed and has drawn rural people into the city in search of higher wages. This has increased the exposure of the city dwellers to the infectious organisms, further reducing the population of the cities. While total food output of the countries involved has decreased, the necessity for food imports has decreased exponentially as the urban population is reduced through infection. In some urban areas, the population has been reduced by as much as two-thirds of their previous totals within weeks. For the first time in modern history, many Third World countries are able provide enough food to feed their populations.
The epidemic driven economic upswing seems to be passing down to the lowest levels of the Third World. The docks in the ports of the affected countries are piled high with stockpiles of exports of raw materials. Because of investor fears, the commodities exchange in aluminum, coffee, rubber, and raw cane sugar has gone wild. Prices for these goods are skyrocketing worldwide. Analysts predict that the rise in the prices of raw materials will provide an economic cushion until the stockpiles run out. Many of the uneducated urban poor of the epidemic ravaged countries have been able to find employment as dock workers to frantically load the goods on ships before the ships are quarantined in port. While no one is able to predict exactly what the final results will be, analysts are predicting that the decline in urban population, coupled with the decimation of local armies, may bring peace to the Third World. When the boom in the cities peters out, the rural immigrants will most likely return to the countryside, bringing their new found wealth with them. If the rural inhabitants invest the money in modernized irrigation systems and local power generating equipment as expected, a renaissance in Third World agriculture may emerge. The change may fuel an evolution in the techno-culture of the Third World. The development of a strong agricultural base early in our nation's history was the foundation which fostered industrial development in the U.S. and made it the superpower it is today.
Who Wears the Pants - Part 2
Copyright 1998 by Jennifer Loraine. All rights reserved.