Saturday, August 12, 2017

STEM (Part Two)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"The only rules: be charming, be humane, be smart, and never take yourself too seriously." -Jeffrey A. Tucker

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies, 

In my last letter I talked about how I've watched, in the course of my life, America go from cultural consensus (more or less) to cultural chaos. I talked about, and briefly defined, the elements of my STEM acronym and promised to expand on them.

King Crank's STEM System is not a proposed new consensus. It's some simple rules for people of widely varying consensi to get along. O.K. class, let's review.

ST is for strategic (as opposed to good) taste. Sometimes a good fart joke is just what's called for, but all fart jokes all the time? not so much. That is to say, knowing when to show some class or style, as opposed to knowing when it's time to get down and dirty.

E is for etiquette. As in "the customary code of polite behavior in society...". This was the very first definition that popped up when I googled the E word. See, I'm not talking about, nor do I care, which spoon is for what. I'm talking about some common sense rules to prevent citizens in general, and Bigfeets in particular, from stepping on each other's toes.

M is for modesty. First Google supplied definition, "the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities." Third, "behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency."

In the process of trying to expand on them, I ran into some problems. First and foremost, I discovered that I really didn't have much else to say that amounted to more than gilding the lily (although in my case, painting the petunia is probably a better metaphor).

Strategic Taste. We have to share the playground so take the trouble to note where you are and who else is within earshot and speak and act accordingly.

Etiquette. Good manners would be a better choice but etiquette works better acronym wise. Please/thanks/excuse me etc.

Modesty. Almost no one is as smart or as (b)right as they think they are. And be an exhibitionist, I don't care. But only when your audience is willing one, not a captive one.

Bottom line. By all means, do your thing, but always keep in mind that your mom or your kids, or someone else's mom or kids may be watching or listening. Share the space with respect for who you're sharing it with.

It was at this point I hit a wall. Wait a sec', it occurred to me, this stuff is obvious, everyone knows this already. And yet, everyone's coming at everyone else via public and social media.

[Bonkercockie! Clearly, everyone doesn't know this. Furthermore, everyone is not coming at everyone else via whatever. And speaking of points, can we look forward to you making one, at some point?


Dana, and Marie-Louise, are in the house, well, in my head at least. Where's Iggy? I inquire.

In his room developing hearing loss, can't you hear the exploding F-bombs? Dana responds.

Yeah, now that you mention it. Will one of you please deal with it? Watch out for psychic shrapnel.]

My imaginary dynamic duo just serendipitously, but accurately, explained the wall referenced above and have shown me a way around it. I stated that almost everyone already knows how to maintain peace on the playground. I should've added -- assuming they want to, or need to.

The Want To's are the (more or less) well-adjusted kids, callowyutes, grups, and sexy seasoned citizens. They're everywhere and far outnumber (for now at least) Need To's and Bigfeets. They practice my STEM System without ever having heard of it.

However, Bigfeets get most of the attention. Bigfeets, and their antics, are a major source of revenue for the Infotainment Industrial Complex. Being a self-admitted current events junkie, my everyone coming at everyone concept may be an inch or two over the top.

The Need To's are the (more or less) mal-adjusted kids, callowyutes, grups, and sexy seasoned citizens. Even those that have been raised by the human equivalent of feral cats, will, when it suits their purposes (getting what they want or trying to get out of trouble) suddenly develop social skills.

While all Bigfeets, when necessary, are Need To's, Need To's are not necessarily Bigfeets. It's complicated so I'm just gonna' leave that one lie there and move on.

I've witnessed this a proverbial million times (I am 39 after all). When cornered, all sorts of um, interesting people -- from the allegedly to the genuinely disadvantaged, from the sociopathic to the psychopathic -- instantly discover the ability to go along to get along to get out of trouble.

[Permit me to congratulate you on your keen grasp of the obvious, dear boy! May one enquire if you're planning on making a point, at some point, in the near fu-cha, sir? Dana's back and has acquired a British accent.

Marie-Louise is scratching my back, she knows where I'm headed.]

I maintain that our fragmented consensus is a Humpty Dumpty level problem. All King Crank's horses and all King Crank's men can't put the consensus together again.

So -- rather than joining the Global Whiners Club and devolving into yet another geezer endlessly bemoaning the gone but not forgotten good ol' days (the pointless pursuit of utopia, in reverse) I've posited my STEM System.

This is -- admittedly, a mere repackaging of literally ancient common sense notions of civilized behavior.

To serve -- as a reminder for some; a primer for others.


It dawned on my dim self, in the course of writing this letter, that the aftermath of the collapse of consensus -- the toxic, left-over radiation with a long half-life, if you will -- is the real problem. People can get along if they're wired that way, or are forced to (even Bigfeets). Or, if there's a threat from another playground. We were a more or less united nation after 9/11, for about five minutes.

The real problem? People that don't want to get along, with sensibilities maintained at a fever pitch by the Infotainment Industrial Complex.

The -- demonize don't compromise, the end justifies the means, we're clearly right you're clearly wrong so shut up, it's payback time, gotta break a few eggs to make a utopian omelet, not in my backyard,  _______, God is on our side, etcetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum -- set.

Hoo-boy. Sometimes I'm glad I'm old.

Let us not end on a depressing note. Here, for your entertainment, are a bunch of musically updated nursery rhymes that begin with a sorta/kinda latin hip-hop version of Humpty Dumpty that's been viewed more than 250,000,000 times!?! Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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