Inference

Since the last post was on communication, this post continues that trend as it’s a part that  frankly appears to be an art more than a skill.

Inference is often just reading between the lines.  For a person receiving a message, they need to understand both the speaker’s intent and be attentive to the message.  For a person giving a message, they need to manage the expectations of the audience.

I still recall an old example from uni, based on a sentence structure.  The italics represent the focus on a given word, then the inference from the statement.  First the base statement.

  • You should not steal these books.

Simple enough.  Don’t steal those books. Let’s focus on each word now.

  • You should not steal theses books.

Infer that you shouldn’t do this, but someone else can.

  • You should not steal these books.

Infers this is a suggestion only. If it was must not, then you can’t at all.  But if you have a good reason, then do so.

  • You should not steal these books.

Don’t steal them, but you can burn them, take them, draw in them, etc…

  • You should not steal these books.

Those other ones are OK.

Inflection & Tone

As much as it’s what’s said, it’s how it’s said that really matters.  The verbal aspect applies  a significant amount of context and impact to a given message.  The non-verbal items also add a lot, as you can tell from facial expression and hand gestures where the key points are of a given message.  I’ve often said there’s more in a raised eyebrow than there is in a book.

Monotone orators, or those with nasal inflections make for tough speakers.  There’s only so much Ben Stein I can take in a day.

Brevity vs. Discourse

The length of a message also has a lot of inference.  Very short messages are often seen as poignant and commanding.  They are important.  Very long messages that meander (like Grampa Simpson) lose the audience’s attention and key bits are just ignored.  The quality of the speaker has a huge impact on the value of that time.  Great storytellers could go for hours and I’d be at edge of seat.  Poor speakers I’ve had enough after 5 minutes.  The “umm, ok, ahh,like” speakers drive me right up the wall.  I try to give a lot of feedback on this part of oration to my team members… it makes a world of difference.

Written Form

I would hope that in all our mind’s eye we have a picture of a good speaker and a poor one.  From a writing perspective, we all have our own preferences.  The above items still apply, where the method of the message has a larger impact than the subject.  Simple things like italics, semi-colons… heck, even just the number of words in a given sentence do more for me than the material.  It’s sort of like food.  It could taste amazing, but if it doesn’t look good, then I won’t enjoy it.

Infer

Back to the actual subject now.  There are multiple levers to get a message across, and the giver intends and how the receiver captures.  Even if everyone posted on the same topic, every blogger would have their own interpretation and message.  Some prefer to add a lot of screenshots to get a point across, others prefer walls of text.  Some clearly do a QA parse, others it’s first draft every time.  When a blogger differs from their “normal” style, it’s quite interesting to read through.  Yet the key here is that most bloggers I read are not trying to sway any particular opinion, they don’t have an agenda, they are just sharing cause they want to.  Big difference from traditional print, or even online news (Buzzfeed’s eternal search for clicks).

I could go into the subtleties of writing, where there are hidden messages in the actual message.  But that’s borderline spin, and I think we all have enough of that on a daily basis.  For this post, it’s just about being conscious of a writer’s style, and how that style itself frames a given message.

 

Communication Skills

The gamer stereotype of basement dwellers was fairly accurate in the early 90s/00s.  The explosion of acceptable geek, online communities, and now streaming has flipped that around.  Likely the most communicative people you find are going to be gamers.  Sort of begs the question if the issue was the people, or the medium.  I’d like to think it’s both.

Gamers traditionally want to share, rather than hear the sound of their own voice.  LAN parties, D&D sessions and whatnot.  Traditional media is one way, lacking any true sense of feedback or dialogue.  Bring in the interwebs and now there are platforms to share, and kablooey, here we are.  Social media was birthed from that mindset.  (Another topic as to what it’s warped into.)

I work in an IT field.  Communication skills are, for the most part, lacking.  Oh, they are all over social media, but they’ve modified their methods to fit the tool.  If it isn’t done in 140 characters, the interest is lost. The concept of long form, or complex dialogue is not something new hires have experience.  And because they generally value their online identity more than the message, they take a fair a lot of insult at any pushback.  It’s hard to block your boss after all.

Just the general concept of thinking before speaking seems to be a lost art.  I can see it in their eyes, all of a sudden they realize what’s come out and silence comes along, or some stuttering.  I don’t mind thinking out loud, that’s a good way to build up an idea with other people. But there are parts of a person’s life that I really don’t need to know about.

I’m clearly getting old here.  I’m in the middle of the workforce in terms of age, but there are many more generations of communications younger than me than older.  Google is older than some of my employees.  And I have students that are as old as Facebook.  Means that when I’m having a large group session, I need to apply a half dozen communication techniques to make sure everyone gets it.

There’s some irony to this topic appearing on a blog, as the audience is likely going to be people who already present long form ideas.   It’s one of the many reason I still blog, keeping that part of the brain active without it being loaded with work-related items.  It’s just an interesting fact that I’ve come to realize… as much as I spent effort building ideas, I spend quite a bit of effort communicating them.  Cause even the best idea in the world won’t go anywhere if people aren’t hearing about it.

Shadowlands – Meh

Legion worked primarily because it was a fresh breath of air on the WoD structure.  It had a big focus on the world and story, added new life to dungeons (with keys), and had a pile of horizontal stuff along the way.  The main gaps were around the abundance of RNG on game-changing items (good vs. bad legendaries).  There were challenges when it came to alts, and even larger challenges when it came to different specs.

BfA rubbed the wrong way because rather than build on that model, it opted to add multiple levels of RNG to pretty much every system.  Instead of targeting vertical progression, a wide swath of activities actually had a negative progress curve. The balance from launch improved the RNG, dramatically.  Multiple activities provide progress towards goals, which is mechanically solid.  What remains is Blizz’s frankly bonkers approach to balancing those options.  Multi-spec characters really took a beating here, since skills were locked into gear.  Felt like time travel.

Which brings me to Shadowlands.

There are multiple systems here that appear solid at the conceptual level.  It appears to be the merger of factions and talents, which seems a somewhat logical point in 2020.  It appears to provide rewards outside the gear, also good.  It has a visible progress line, compared to a roll of the die for the next upgrade, great.

Where the gap is for me, and from various blogs I appear to not be alone, is in the Blizz approach to balancing these choices.  Sure, there’s the meta, and there will always be a meta.  It’s 2020 for crying out loud.  No, what I’m getting at is that the illusion of choice due to poor balancing.  If your job is healing, then there are no choices but those that increase healing.  If you need movement for 1 fight out of 10, but it takes you a week to get access to that skill… well then you don’t take that skill.

I keep using the word balance, but we only ever think of one side of that scale – the one we are evaluating.  The measure on the opposite end is even more important.  If I am balancing a skill, we all have to agree on what’s the counterweight, the baseline.  Blizz has a habit of making that weight equal to 100% optimal use in mythic difficulty.  They will eventually reduce that, but it takes time.  The amount of time that takes, and the level, directly impacts the importance of the meta.

Further, the internal testing/beta process is clearly broken.  The massive nerfs applied to corruption effects once live show that clearly. Everyone was given a choice between a tactical nuke, and a rake.  I get that nothing is perfect, I more than get that.  That’s my everyday life, ugh.  You need to iterate, that’s normal.  But BfA didn’t have a single system that launched in an “acceptable” state, everything felt rushed.  I will be the first to admit that nearly every system improved over time, but that level of improvement is typicall in the beta process… not live.

My newsfeed has a ton of Shadowlands stuff.   Beta is live.  Core systems (like conduits) are already going back to the drawing board.  The speed of that change means that Blizz didn’t really think it was going to fly anyhow.  The selling features of this expansion are really twofold.  That this covenant system works (and is therefore balanced) and that the Maw has some sort of attraction to do on a regular basis.  As of now, in beta, where the excitement should be high, it’s instead very muted.  It’s very reminiscent of the BfA beta vibe.

Maybe we do end up with the A/B cycle of good/bad expansions.  I hope so more for Blizzard’s sake than my own.  There are a lot of eyes on this expansion, and if the cash cow that is WoW no longer produces, we are all aware that Mr. Kotick is more than willing to take action to solve it.  Way too many people lose in that event.

Anxiety

Let’s just get to it.  I have anxiety.  You have anxiety.  Everyone has anxiety.  It’s normal.  The difference between us is how that anxiety is triggered, and what we do about it.  This post is primarily a result of Belghast’s.

Anxiety is the fear of what’s to come, and you’re stressful reaction to that idea.  There are some more common things, like a job interview, a first date, a performance.  The outcome of that activity is likely to have some “major” consequences and your mind just goes racing at all the options.  Some people decide to focus on the worst outcomes, others get paralyzed with all the options, others end up in this rabbit hole of outcomes.  Like a first date goes well and they are thinking about kid names.

I used to suffer tremendously from anxiety.  It wasn’t debilitating, to the point where I didn’t take action.  It was to the point where my mind just wouldn’t shut off.  It was like being in one of those amusement funhouse mirror mazes.  I’d see infinite copies of me, in all sorts of situations.  I’d navigate through it, find the one I wanted to be, and sort of “took over” that role.  The best analogy I can apply to this is that me, as a core, stayed the same.  What happened was that I applied a sort of filter onto the core, and let certain aspects through given the particular issue.  So the hard-ass version of me in areas where I needed to exert control, but otherwise would be put aside.

The challenge here is that I started depending on some roles more than others.  Instead of picking the “best” role for a given problem, I’d pick one that was easier and hit it at like, 80%.  Not through laziness, but sheer exhaustion from having so many roles asking different levels of energy.  I got really far in life using that model, but reached a point where it just wasn’t sustainable.  People around me were suffering for those impacts.

I went and got counselling.  Won’t sugar coat it, it took a while to find one I liked.  Most were OK.  Some were just horrible.  My wife has one, and we shared her for couples counselling.  She’s ok, but I really struggle to take advice on child raising from someone without kids.  I did eventually find someone who shared some life experiences and followed the Adler train of thought on psychology.

This whole thing coincided with a really rough patch in my relationship with my wife, and a burnout at work.  Life gave me a few hints about it, but life never really gives up.  Either you learn, or it just hits harder the next time.  I went to counselling, I made an effort to be honest, and a larger effort to take it all seriously.  I had help setting new priorities, applying different techniques.  I refocused on what mattered, and learned to accept “what’s the worst that can happen, and can I live with it”.  That mindset liberated me.

In my line of work, this type of service counts are health services.  A portion of the costs were covered by work, and I footed the remainder of the bill.  I didn’t pay through the nose either – there are some insanely expensive options.  Makes little sense to create financial anxiety.  I understand that not everyone has my flexibility in this manner.  That said, if you’re in a position where you’re conscious of your mental health, there’s a darn good chance you have the means to address it.  If you’re worried about putting food on the table, mental health is not a priority – nor should it be.

In the world today, there’s more than enough to drive people over the edge.  It claws at our sanity.  But it’s a choice.  If the news is draining you, then you probably should stop reading the news for a bit.  If your social media feed gets your blood boiling, then you need to clean it up.  Everyone has that crazy uncle/aunt/friend who’s a few cards short of a deck.  Cutting Facebook entirely is massive peace of mind.  I rarely seek out things on Twitter.  I practice mindful meditation steps (I don’t sit on a mat for an hour), by taking a few minutes while I brush my teeth in the morning and evening.

This long post to come to a simple fact.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.  Everyone has challenges.  There are plenty of options out there to address them.  They will not show up to your door – and with a tiny amount of effort, it may end up changing your life for the better.

Imagine

I like to live in the near future, the spot where tomorrow’s ideas can be implemented and used.  It’s a practical lens to dreaming.  Rather than say “I wish I was a millionaire”, I’d go something like “I want a boat”.  I may not get one tomorrow, but I should be able to get one in a few months.

The upside to this approach is that all of my goals are achievable.  They may push me to uncomfortable limits, but I do get there.  Maybe I have to learn a new skill, maybe I have to make some new contacts.  It’s still doable, and the bar is far enough that I feel some level of content having reached it.

The downside to this approach is that the ideas are less grand, they are more restrictive.  There’s less freedom to explore an idea, because dreams are often gapped by the unpractical.

So let’s say I want to be an astronaut.  Awesome dream, every kid seems to go through that phase.  Well, I’d have to go back to school and get a double PHD.  I’d have to quit my job to do that in time, which would be a financial burden.  I’d spend less time with my family and having “fun” on a day to day basis.  The goal itself would demand too high a sacrifice.

Let’s say I just want to be a pilot.  Well that’s pretty simple, I just go an take some lessons, get enough training hours in the air, and bob’s your uncle.  Would cost a ton, but could dramatically save on travel time to the cottage up North.

The practical aspect of my brain causes me to put up guiderails on any idea generated.  Advantage that I can see permutations of a problem and can rapidly think of mitigations.  Work has honed that skill to a fine edge.  But it’s still there.  From a day to day view, this is fine.  It “grounds” the family to stability and structure, while still moving everything forward.

Yet I’m aware that it stifles creativity.  Not in the sense that ideas can’t gestate, but that the BIG ideas, the ones that are a little bit more on the crazy side, they just get dismissed unconsciously.  I need some meat on that idea, to feel it out in my brain, to see that it’s somewhere in the realm of possible.  This gets worse the more I know about a given subject, since I’m well versed in the variables to make something work.  The curse of experience as it were.

Which brings me to a larger point, of kids imaginations.  The general lack of constraint, of limits in a kid’s head is almost surreal.  They’ll think of a Liger and go “where can I find one”.  Or they’ll draw a picture of a dog in space and figure their own internal logistics to accomplish the feat.  A simple stick can be a lightsaber, a mattress and covers a fortress against monsters.  Just so many things that make you go “hmm”, then smile cause it doesn’t really matter if they enjoy it.  Then think back as to when you lost that spark.

It’s a rambling bit for sure.  I’ve spent the fair chunk of 4 months now, every day surrounded by these little lovable buggers.  You don’t quite realize the fun in an item until you’re given the chance to step back.  I need to train myself a bit more to get out of the way, and simply enjoy the ride, rather than the destination.  Realizing that kids have way more to teach us than we give them credit for.

Warrior Nun

I knew that whatever I watched after Dark would hit me the wrong way.  It’s like having a 7 course meal then following it up with anything else… it just doesn’t work.

Warrior Nun is a Netflix series based on a Canadian comic book.  Maybe inspired is the better term.  Concept is interesting, there’s a single nun who’s given a halo which provide immortality, quick, healing, added strength, and some extra host-specific abilities.  The lead character here can levitate.  The kick here is that the person chosen for this is more happenstance, and they are reluctant to take on the mantle.  Fish out of water I guess.

The challenges I have with this is that every trope you can think of is used here.  And the first 6 episodes don’t actually do anything.  Sorry, they do, but it’s the same story beats – girl avoids her role and runs away.  At 45m per episode, it’s a massive waste of time.

Episode 7 actually has progress, and feels more like the Flash series by then, at least in terms of team/story building.  Episode 8 somehow has an epiphany moment – a moment which seems like the only reasonable approach.  It isn’t egregious here.  Game of Thrones is a recent example of just mind blowingly poor character decisions.  That’s refreshing.

The lore/world building has a tad too much Dan Brown for me.  Where there’s exposition for the sake of exposition.  It doesn’t appear to serve a purpose.  There are exceptions – in particular one see that advances the persecution of individuals deemed different.   It also, very briefly, touches on the curse of immortality.

There’s no reading between the lines, every card is on the table and you can see the chain of events well before they occur.  You may be impatient waiting for it to occur, but it will.

In that sense, Warrior Nun’s major challenge is managing pace of story.  Once things get moving, it’s good.  One of those shows you can put on while you’re doing something else.

Dark Season 3

Credit where due.  Dark is one of the best shows I have ever watched.  I had put up a post about Season 1 a while back, and it launched pretty close to Stranger Things – so most of the air was taken away.  They share similar first episodes, with a child disappearance.  By episode’s end, Dark decides to just go for it and drop time travel on the table.  I remember thinking that it was risky, given that normally only works well in comedies (Back to the Future, Bill and Ted) and that most sci-fi stories get stuck in the mud (Lost).

Oh boy was I wrong.

It instead spends 3 jam-packed seasons, meticulously playing out card after card of a deck of amazing storytelling, in what often appears to be a random order.  Each and every twist and action has a reason.  Some know more than others based on where they are in the overall timeline, and sometimes, they are just a few minutes apart.  The thing I enjoyed the most was that the series respects the viewer, if the viewer respects the series.  You can’t watch it out the corner of your eye, you’ll miss too much.

I should also mention that the penultimate episode manages to close off nearly every single question posed.  The finale wonderfully closes the entire story, making the arcs feel worthwhile.  I cannot recall the last time any show did that.

Some Spoilers Ahead

The comparison’s to Lost are apt.  Both are sci-fi stories where character decisions have to be taken on faith of the underlying story.  There’s the mystery box (literally in both), and the character motivations/allegiances seem to shift over time.  But Lost stopped thinking before writing in Season 3 (the cages) and went full reactive mode from then on.  Dark never strays.

There’s an old idea about time travel that asks what would happen if you went back in time and killed your grandparents.  In most cases, that means you die, multi-verse be damned.  Dark doesn’t actually let you do it, instead it shows the repercussions of you trying.  Helge’s disfigurement is the present is caused by someone going back in time trying to kill him, to prevent his future self.  But it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at that point. Time is immutable.

In practice, that means that the series covers nearly every action and consequence, just not in a linear fashion.  People end up being their own fathers, or grandparents.  It feels more like a close ecosystem of cause/effect.  At the end of Season 1 you get to see part of the larger picture with Adam providing a more menacing viewpoint.  Season 2 is a marvel to watch through, and ends with a twist that is evident when you look back.  Season 3 deals with the duality /  mirror effect of all this time travel impacts.  Close to what Fringe delivered, but a better execution.

Interesting bit is the way season 3 is filmed.  The mirror effect is practically applied – stairs that went left go right, right handed people use their left hand.  Scars change.  It’s like an uncanny valley, where you know something is wrong but not quite sure what.  The story takes center stage, and you get the perception that the characters are but characters in a play – or pieces on a chessboard.  That would be accurate, given the themes of determinization.

I also want to give a massive shoutout to the music in this series.  I listen to the opening credits everytime.  And each episode carries some poignant song that reflects the themes of that episode.  I often found myself finding that song outside of the series, just to get some time to reflect.

The series gets so complex that Netflix has an accompanying webapp to help out.  Really well done, as you can set the spoilers to only apply to the episodes you’ve watched.  It comes with a  timetravel timeline too, which makes a world of difference in understanding how everything fits together.

I’d be remiss not to mention that the series is filmed in German.  There are English voiceovers, or subtitles, to your leisure.  Both are of great quality.  Given the visual aspects are important to the story, I prefer the voiceovers.

I am setting expectations a tad high, but to me this is the new gold standard in sci-fi story telling.  Heck, just story telling in a visual medium.

 

Heat Wave

I had a week off at the cottage, then worked a week there.  That week was heat wave weather.  My part of the country comes with some insane humidity levels in heat waves. While the base temperature is not crazy, the humidity runs close to 70%.  Feels like breathing soup.  It also makes it near impossible to sweat to remove body heat, and your body dehydrates lightning fast.

So going outside wasn’t exactly pleasant, and working indoors staring at a window of people with smiles isn’t motivating either.  Still, I was able to wake up with the family, have lunch with them (most days) and see them in the evenings.  The alternative in the past few years is me working in the office and not seeing them at all for a week+.  This isn’t perfect, but it’s a massive improvement.

I did have to come back to the house this week.  Maintenance for one, but also cause the in-laws are staying at the cottage a few days.  I get along with them just fine, but it’s a LOT easier to ship the kids outside than the in-laws.  Walking into the house was a bit weird, like I needed to find my stuff again.

So I get to spent the next few days alone at home.  The silence is deafening.

Heirlooms in BfA

For a very long time, the entire point of heirlooms was to bypass the wonky leveling mechanics in WoW.  Mainly the fact that items scaled in power, smoothing (?) the power curve.  The % increase to xp gain has been a perk on top of that, and of larger and larger benefit as the leveling experience has gotten longer.  From level 100+, there’s really nothing in game that provides any character growth, it’s just a time tax.  Every expansion just adds 4 hours or so to the leveling period.

Shadowlands aims to reduce that time tax – with something near the 20hr mark to get from 1-60.  That’s in the realm of most single player games, so not too bad.  Heatmaps are going to be interesting… I don’t see why anyone, anywhere, would want to level in any zone that was NOT Legion / BfA.  Anything pre-MoP feels horrendous – and unless you’re really strapped for attention, you’re best playing the LFD roulette.

But 20 hours, that’s doable I guess.  Certainly less than the current pace of leveling, even with heirlooms.  So I guess that’s why Blizz is not planning to have an %XP boost anymore.  The item scaling appears to still be there, but I’d be wildly surprised if anyone thinks that’s enough of a motivator in a single expansion cycle (where I assume item levels make sense).

Taken from another lens, I see heirlooms as a band-aid for the larger problem – time to level.  That problem generated other problems, primarily the value of a level.  The level crunch should get rid of the value problem, where you spend 20 hours and get nothing for it.  The time to level reduction is pretty much required, given Blizz’ persistence to only put relevant content at max level.  I mean, aside from the art, what’s different from a player at level 30 and 119?  The rotation is 95% the same, there’s no real grouping aside from guilds, crafting is entirely meaningless.  The Class Trial option gives you nearly every permutation of gameplay for a class – and it doesnt take 20 hours to complete.

But that’s a larger rant.

Right now, Blizz is cutting leveling time, reducing a significant problem’s impact.  Removing %XP from heirlooms, in this expansion, removes the practical need to buy them.  Curious if they will do the same to the Refer a Friend bonus…

 

Pendulum Swings

I recall a physics class where the teacher demonstrated the behavior of a pendulum and the effect that gravity/air resistance had.  If you dropped (not pushed) it would never reach it’s starting point – each pass would get progressively shorter.  The beauty here is that physics are a constant – the math is consistent and the results always match the math.

In the sci-fi series Foundation (from the 50s!) the concept of psychohistory is pushed, where mathematical models are applied to sociology.  The core concept that an individual can be an unknown, but that large masses can be predicted.  The larger the mass, the more accurate the prediction.  Over the series, the books explore the creation of this class of mathematics, and the centuries of effort to refine it.  The point here is that the first book is entirely based on the mathematical predictions, and how people deal with the concepts of fate/control.  This is over large spans of time – each crisis takes over a couple generations to appear.

In today’s word, we seem to be encountering a new crisis every couple weeks.  2020 has been a hell of a year.  I mean, it started with most of a continent on fire and has somehow managed to go downhill from there.

The pendulum keeps swinging.  Instead of resistance, there’s a larger force pushing the swing forward.  That force has always existed, but it’s been limited in power/reach.  It used to be that you had to physically meet people to sway their ideas.  Then radio gave a voice to it.  TV put a face to it (the Nixon/Kennedy debate is a key turning point).  The hindrance here was time – you needed to be ready to take the message when it appeared.

Social media removes the concept of time.  Some countries have weaponized this platform either through moderation (China) or deception (Russia).  If they control the medium, they control the message.  Other countries aren’t a whole lot better.  POTUS tweets on average 20 times a day,.  It doesn’t matter the validity of the message, simply that the message exists and is amplified.  Credit where due – these groups have found an opportunity and exploited it.  Where at the ethical level, most people wouldn’t think that deception would be consistent, these groups focus almost entirely on changing the narrative.  They are not targeting the majority – they are simply targeting a vocal minority.  Smart.

Again, this is consistent with social modeling.  People that acquire and maintain power must control the message.  People’s acceptance of that message is like an elastic – it can stretch for quite some time.  Finding the right balance of stressing that elastic and then easing is key.  (There’s a longer conversation as to the people of China who have enjoyed unheard of prosperity this generation, and what they’ve gladly traded for it.  Golden chains, as it were.)  Very few people in power are able to maintain that balance, as it changes as society itself changes.  Eventually, the systems themselves become unmanageable and they topple.  There are no exceptions to this rule – they all eventually fail.  The difference is in how long that takes – and who’s in charge when the decline picks up steam.

It’s not like there’s one factor, or one actor that we can point to.  It’s simply the stress on the elastic that gives out and cascade impacts occur.  No one who lived during the fall of the Roman Empire ever saw the fall occur – it took a long while.  They saw the pendulum swing, but never really saw it pivot.  In today’s hyper-connected world, we are seeing very large swings at the micro level.  Brazil might have a buffoon as a president, but at the aggregate, Brazil has had corrupt leaders for a long time.  It seems like a swing, but it’s just a speedbump in the larger arc.

It’s too early to say that we’re in a change of arc.  It certainly can feel that way, but usually a change is countered in short order.  We’re still having debates/laws pushed about abortion – a discussion that should have been closed a generation ago.  People feel that racism doesn’t impact them, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  There’s a whole lot of “the rules sound great, but don’t apply the to me!” – which, if history is any indicator, is a trigger for large scale change.

I do have faith in the outcome.  It’s not like we’re staring at the dark ages again (1200 years!).  I really don’t think that people in charge are smart enough to do enough lasting damage – cause the people themselves simply won’t accept it.  They’ll accept a lot.  They have already.  But when that elastic does break, a new one will show up within a short time.  Always has.  Just wonder what it will look like.