My Own Worst Enemy, for the majority of the world that has forgotten, was a short-lived TV spy-show with a twist. The premise of the show was that some of the world's top spies underwent complex conditioning that gave them a case of controlled multiple personalities. While on missions, they were their spying, assassinating, dark-deeds-for-the-greater-good selves. While not on missions or not on that particular job, their other personalities would take over, making them happily standard members of middle American suburbia.

The conditioning of Christian Slater becomes unstable, again in the premise, enabling switches of personality. Thus, the conflict is set. On the one hand, we have Edward Albright, the lone-wolf doer of dark deeds in service to his country. On the other hand, we have Henry Spivey, the wimpier, but more moral husband and father. The two come into conflict with each other and the roles of each other as they accidentally slip between.

If I had to guess why My Own Worst Enemy was short lived, it would be that it had a tendency to be rather down on the work-a-day people who make up the bulk of civilization. Whether by intention or otherwise, it made the case that your life isn't as valuable as that of such a spy. When a show's basic message seems to include "your struggles and triumphs and failures just don't add up to all that much", I can see people being turned off.

Two items turned me off.
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I've been gone a long time from this blog (and from this series). A large part of the reason has been Pokemon Go. But, another part has been my difficulty in getting my thoughts together on this promised topic. What labels are rather than what they're not. I've both oversimplified and over-complicated it in my mind.

So, I'll keep it simple, perhaps more simple than I promised. If so, that's my error. Labels are descriptions. They can be accurate descriptions or inaccurate descriptions. But, they're descriptions, nonetheless. They can be influenced by the intent of those who adopt the labels as well as those who would seek to assign the labels, but they can't proscribe anything onto the labeled.
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Quantum Leap, for those not yet born in 1993, is the story of Samuel Beckett (no relation to the playwright) who invented and tested a time machine. It was a partial success in that it did send him back in time, but only into the lives of those in the past. And, he couldn't get back. All he could do was stay in one setting long enough to complete an unspecified but important task or "put right what once went wrong". Then, he would "leap" into another life at another point in history and geography.

Unlike some shows I've subjected to The Case, Quantum Leap made some fairly good use of its potential for its time.

For its time is an important caveat. Quantum Leap existed in the late '80s and early '90s. That gave it two binds that held it back from fully exploring its potential.
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Pride, along with feeling good, is very useful for a society. It can bind people to a society in general, make them feel good about being members of that society for reasons beyond mere survival. That's all good, things that you will need. So, for the obvious bit of advice, encourage and model pride in your community and society.

In so doing, you will want to be careful about the kind of pride you encourage and model. You want positive pride, rather than negative. Positive pride includes pride in personal or shared accomplishments and values. This can include the quality of life built, contributions to wider community, and, at first, basic survival against long odds.

Negative pride operates by lowering esteem in others. History, particularly the early part of the mid-20th century, has some stark examples of what happens when negative pride takes the foreground of national pride.
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A tactic that resurfaces every so often is the argument by which the apologist or evangelist claims that an atheist isn't an atheist, but actually an agnostic. This seems to happen more in popular theist claims of arguments they did make than in actual arguments, these days. The argument usually employs a dot and a much larger circle, representing total possible knowledge and total knowledge known by humankind on Earth respectively. The point of the argument is that one cannot claim to falsify a nonfalsifiable concept, like God, without knowing everything, therefore one cannot be an atheist.

This fails for multiple reasons, all surrounding how labels work, as a concept.

The first thing you should understand about labels is that they aren't magic.
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A phrase that's come up in my thinking and writing of this series is "pre-apocalyptic". That word describes this current, pre-apocalyptic society more than just in terms of a time-line relative to a potential future apocalypse. It also describes much of our mindset, as a people.

Much of our society, today, is shaped by people looking forward to the end of the world, by one means or another. We have post-apocalyptic fiction a-plenty, most of which, these days, is devoted to the more cozy kind of post-apocalyptic world, in which people survive and rebuild and live among the... zombies or the newly de-powered world or the not-fully-successful alien invasion.
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I've already made a Case for remaking 50 Shades of Grey, which started life as Twilight Fan Fiction. As this indicates, Twilight does share the major problem of 50 Shades. Much of the story is something that can be appreciated as a fantasy that should remain fantasy. But, Twilight has its own problems that make it so that it can't all be solved with a presentation that acknowledges that it's not just a step away from reality, but a step away from desired reality.

Twilight, for those not already made familiar by a wealth of commentary, is the story of late teen Bella Swan and her falling in love with a vampire.

The story begins with her moving to a dreary town to live with her father, who is also the local Sherriff. She goes to the dreary High School, where she is nigh-immediately the most popular girl, but finds no joy in either that or any of the people. It's not that she's malicious in her distaste for her classmates, but more that she holds everybody in the same low esteam with which she holds herself.

Some readers and critics, particularly in the comments of Ana Mardoll's deconstructions of the series*, have put forth that Bella Swan could be taken to present as suffering clinical depression.

The only classmates who don't go out of their way to befriend Bella are the Cullens, of which Edward captures her attention. He's initially hostile, but concerned for her well-being, and otherwise a bundle of mixed messages. This prompts her to ask about the Cullens, learn about a convenient fictional myth from the real-but-inaccurately-portrayed local Native American community, and pour over some internet research, all leading up to the much-shown and much-mocked scene. He tells her to say it and she says "vampire".
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Waterworld, if you've forgotten (and most have) was the movie set in a world in which global warming caused the ice-caps to melt... and nothing else. The story is your fairly average, low-budget, action piece with Dennis Hopper playing the over-the-top bad guy and Kevin Costner as the blander-than-bland good guy.

Item of note: I know that Kevin Costner can play someone with emotions. I've seen it in Bull Durham.

Now, I say the story is a fairly average, low-budget action piece. But, the movie itself had a high budget. I don't know where the budget went. If it all went to Dennis Hopper, that might have been a good choice. I suspect that it went to the efforts of shooting, off the coast, on settings that would allow you to view this as a world where there's no dry-land in the background of any of the shots, not until they come to the remaining island.

Still, the concept is workable, but for a couple problems.
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Chances are, whether willingly or not, you've been a participant in this game. In fact, a large part of the game is in getting people to play the game. Trickery, physical force, manipulation of authority figures, all are allowed to get people into the game. But, once in, the first rule is important.

Rule #1: The Target cannot win.

Have you ever asked "what have I ever done to you?" and got the response "you were born"? That's this rule in play. It's rule number one of the game. The rewards for victory in the game are feelings of strength and power and social acceptance and political power.

But, that's a rudimentary version. Children will sometimes play it. There's a new wrinkle that has to come in and, here, things get complex.

Rule #2: Never admit to Rule #1.

If you stick to Rule #2 just perfectly, you'll live by Rule #1, but never even acknowledge it within the depths of your own mind. You can speak it as clearly as possible but never actually believe that you've spoken it. So, at the same time you identify the losers of the game, you provide encouragement for them to win even as you ensure that they cannot.
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This example didn't happen to me, but someone else. In the comments section of an article about the ways nonChristians view Christians, one atheist mentioned the story of someone who tried to befriend them and invite them to church. At the time of the story, the nonChristian was a Buddhist and the invitation to church got the reply of an invitation to Buddhist activities. The nonChristian made clear that they weren't interested in converting, but would be interested in mutual learning. The Christian then cut off all contact.

Here is part of one of the responses.

I get why she cut off contact if she had been witnessing and there was no evidence of interest. It isn’t that anyone is a project – I know how bad life is without the Lord as I was there once. I also know some are so won over by false gods that they are not open to the true and living God – it’s not any different than what I feel for the Lord. As far as being friends – Proverbs tells a Christian that Iron Sharpens iron – so if you are not a Christian – how are you going to affect a Christian? Odds are not in a godly manner and as such they need to befriend those that believe the same way.


Among evangelists and apologists, there can be a tendency to treat nonbelievers as made of bad parts. The professed love and concern for the person is about taking the bits and pieces of the person that makes this person a different person from yourself (or a different person from that which you would recognize as a member of your faith) and replacing them. The result is to remove the person in front of you and replace them with someone you do love.
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Ladyhawke is the 1980's Middle Ages fantasy movie about a cursed couple. Both in love, the woman is a hawk during the day and the man is a wolf at night. When an animal, either can only think as an animal. They can feel for each other and even recognize each other, but cannot communicate. For nostalgia, I consider this a classic. On re-watch, I can consider it a tad confused with its tone, but I still say it's an entertaining movie to watch.

A character calling himself Mouse, played by Matthew Broderick, is both comic relief and our viewpoint character for the story. He's a thief of so slight a build that he was able to escape an otherwise inescapable prison by crawling through the drains. He's a capable thief, which keeps us aware of why he would be wanted in his position, and the comedy comes from him being in over his head and surviving through wit and luck.

The movie takes a passing look at the fact that, having been unable to communicate but always so close, there's a strain and can be a desire to find intimacy with someone else. But, that doesn't last more than about one scene, long enough for Mouse to find the way to be clear that nothing really happened.

Therein lies the wasted potential.
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In the comments on the last installment, someone left a comment about a short story that depicted a society of perfect, pacifist, philosophical anarchism. It's a vision a lot of people have had, stretching from communes to compounds. Human history also has a number of examples of people with a different kind of vision, one of everybody holding perfectly to this one vision of how people should be.

The argument over how much law and order to impose upon a society, as well as the shape and nature of that law and order, is already contentious before the apocalypse. Part of that is that we pretty well know that it's going to take something on the level of an apocalypse before we could initiate one ideology or another. So, we argue for the small changes that we think bring us closer to one utopia or the other.

For you who are after the apocalypse, you'll have to deal with people arguing for and fighting for initiating their Utopian ideologies, whole-cloth. In that argument, don't trust any of them.
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This is another tip that goes to your motivations for your attempts at evangelism and apologetics. Are you trying to convince people of the truth of your faith? Are you trying to win the conversation? You can't do both.

In a recent face-to-face conversation, I listened to a case made... and made and made at high speed. No breath was taken and no space was left for response. Finally I just straight up asked the person to let me respond and I got an explicit rejection. This person didn't want a conversation. They said "everybody has an opinion and you can keep yours to yourself." To the idea that that applies as readily to themselves, there was the response "I've already given you my opinion."
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Setting: Winter.

Camera focuses on a great, tall oak tree has branches that droop nearly to the ground, laden with large icicles and weight of snow. The branches have scar marks where they have had minor breaks that healed over and then again.

As the great oak's limbs droop and the ice merges. The result of decades of water, only a bit at a time, sliding down the icicles and freezing. More supernatural than accident of nature is how that forms into a throne of ice.

Camera pulls back to note a giant, stone tablet before the throne.

King Edmund Pevensie the Just frowns at the whole setting.

Edmund: This isn't canonical. This scene is nowhere in the books.

The voice of Jadis has no visible source: Narnia never had good continuity. Imagery and history both bent to Authorial need of the moment. It was always the logic of a dream. Such a shame that it tried to pretend otherwise.

Edmund: Why have you brought me here?

Jadis: I didn't. Why have you brought me here?
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The Disclaimers:

1. This story is going to cover years. I'll try to be quick about it.

2. This story will be significantly self-pitying. It's unavoidable to tell the story. I apologize in advance. That which I suffered is very mild in the grand scheme of things. I was a mildly unlucky amidst what was otherwise a sea of privilege. This is not like other sufferings either in kind or degree. The most that can be done with this is that it can be mined for value. That is the intent, let's see how well I do.

When I was in Junior High School, in the early 1990's, on the bus, I bit a girl. When I was later asked why, I gave the proximate cause. She had picked up my math homework and refused to return it, only repeating "I just want to look at it." She didn't even go to my same school, but she wanted to look at my math homework and didn't see anything wrong with taking that look over my repeated objections.

My own school's Principal, having me by the wrist, was to ask me what I was supposed to do. I gave the answer she wanted, but it wasn't the right answer. The answer she wanted was that I was to go to the nearest authority and trust them to side with me when it was the obviously right thing to do. I gave her that answer, but it was wrong.
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"I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body."

You might have said those words and believed them. It's a certainty that you've heard that phrase. It's a likelihood that, at least a few of those times you heard the phrase, you immediately knew it not to be true.

It's one of those claims that are easy to believe when you make them. Claims to being humble, to being loving and not hateful, to being kind, to not letting bad information lead you to false conclusions based on popular understandings. These are all easy claims to make. And, among those who most feel it their duty to turn me into a Christian, there's a tendency to believe those claims.

If you find yourself about to make such a claim ("I don't have a prejudiced bone in my body." "No, I'm really being loving to gay people." "I don't hold myself as superior to anybody.), stop. Do not make that claim and do not believe that claim.

I have not just called you a bigot or accused you of being an egotist.
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Rebuilding society from near-scratch is going to be a tough job. More accurately, it's going to be a combination of many tough, dirty jobs that someone has to do. What's more, at least at first, they'll have to be done low-tech, for the most part.

While you're working on getting plumbing up and running, someone will have to dig a latrine, build an outhouse, and drive a dunny-wagon to get that stuff out of town and, hopefully, to fertilizer for a farm. And, that's just for example.

So, your challenge will be to get jobs done, particularly traditionally low-status jobs. In the formation of law, Lawyers will come in because the value and the status of that job is obvious. Doctors, both legitimately educated and otherwise, will come forward due to how readily our society will reward that profession. Getting people with the training will be the tough part, constructing society so that they are rewarded and motivated will be the easy part.

The low-status, but essential jobs will be the difficult part. Part of the reason for the difficulty will be that you don't have the current, pre-apocalypse method of motivating people to do those jobs, payment with money.
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Back in my tip on Shannon Low, I quickly mentioned that The Binding of Issac was one of the moral problems that would spring up once someone deconverts, making the allegedly perfect answers to Elisha and the Two Bears not the perfect re-conversion tool that you think it is. One commenter felt the need to respond to The Binding of Issac, thinking that they had the satisfying moral defense. The last line of that defense is as follows.

Was Issac actually in any danger? I do not believe so because in either case he is not harmed (....physically.....)


Note that last word, surrounded by extended ellipses and parentheses, "physically". That was, whether intentional or not, an admission that, even if I were to accept everything else about the defense, it still wouldn't succeed (for reasons that I will go into in a future tip).
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Establishing Shot Exterior: The Multiverse Multi-port. The camera-side of the port is an airport with a grassy lawn by a parking lot. To the left is a lush coach port and a mid evil village. To the right is a stagecoach mail pickup amidst a desert. Opposite the camera, you can see a sea port with a ship at port sporting a black flag.

The Camera moves over and shifts just by one degree and the stagecoach disappears, replaced by a futuristic, undersea, submarine airlock. The sea port disappears to be replaced by a star-filled space-port.

Close up shots sequence through multiple signs in multiple languages, each seeming to say the same thing. The camera rests on a sign in English.

Sign reads: Warning! Attempts to comprehend the architecture and geography of the Multiverse Multi-port are connected to nose-bleeds, migraines, and exploding heads. Do not attempt! Multiverse Multi-port will not be held responsible.

The camera pans to the side to show a wide open, two story fashion shop, the sign above reading "The All Purpose Fashion Experience".
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Only You Can Save Mankind is a book you probably haven't read. Even if you really enjoy Terry Pratchett, it's not in his Discworld series and... in all honesty, it's not a great book. I know. I just stated a paradox. It's by Terry Pratchett and I... don't like it.

I don't hate it or even dislike it. I can see how others would like it. If you have the chance, give it a read. I didn't find it a chore to get through the whole thing. And, hey, if Amazon is any indication, a lot of people loved it. (Though, one did give it a one star review and called it liberal indoctrination, which actually endears the novel to me.)

My issue with the book is that it left me with the feeling that... nothing really happened. Oh, there was action, there was exploration of a theme and the beginnings of what could open up to a deconstruction of common game tropes of "Always Chaotic Evil" and the application of the Social Anthropological Principle of Out-Group Homogeneity Bias*. Unlike other stories that never notice their own potential, this one notices, but doesn't really have a grasp on how to engage it.
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