Freeday 5 May 2000


Pic of the day: It's just a week since the heat wave that set off spring here, and already the forest is green. Not with envy, either ...


The strike is marching on, though the buses still run. -I've mentioned this lately, but I seriously think this strike is not caused by the feeling that the laborers don't earn enough, but rather that (a handful of) leaders earn too much. Millions and millions. Now there are only a very few companies that large here in Norway. Most of the guys on strike aren't party to those at all, any more than, say, a random Swede or Dane. But just knowing that these people earn so much make people feel bad.

The strike, then, is instigated by Gross Stupidity and his daughter Envy. It's not the first time. The logic that "other people's luck is my suffering" has followed those of small, dark minds since the dawn of time. It is said that it was out of envy that Jesus was crucified, and certainly he was neither the first nor the last to be tortured and killed because of envy, jealousy and other members of that close-knit family.


People don't grow happier anymore. For decades, people felt generally happier as their earnings rose. This was back in the times when it meant something to get more money: You could have meat for dinner even if it was not Sunday. You could get your own car and your own telephone and even a washing machine. You felt that your personal life improved.

Now, most people in our rich countries have the things they need, and then some. The focus has shifted. The next needs they want to fill are social, not biological. It is their standing among others that needs to improve. But earning more money doesn't cut it, because the "Joneses" are earning more money too. The neighbors may not have quite as big a house, but they have a newer car, and so the feeling of triumph is mixed at best. Even so, people can endure. Until they think of the Filthy Rich.

Living in these civilized times, we cannot cut the head off the Filthy Rich. But we can tax them, sue them and generally make their lives sour until they leave for some small remote island.


I am not unfamiliar with the feeling of envy myself. I was once assailed by a temptation to envy, early in the 1980es I think. It felt pretty bad. I prayed never to experience that again!

And in general, I have felt little need to envy other people. Yes, most of the white ones are richer than me, I guess. Well, the real pale ones at least, counting out the latinos or whatever they are called this year. And certainly most men at least are stronger than I (and quite a lot of the women too, I bet, especially these days with health studios and what not). Some people are certainly more decorative. (Women in particular.) But after I moved out from home at the age of 15, I rarely meet anyone of comparable intelligence. And as I value my brain over the rest of my body, and that again over my belongings, I have been quite pleased with that arrangement. Yes, I have a nagging worry that perhaps Alan Greenspan and Bill Gates may be brighter than I, and a few others. But they don't seem to have the good fortune to sit down and enjoy it, instead running around saving the world. Can't say I envy them the job.

The same goes even for my best friend, the SuperWoman. She is noticeably brighter than I, but seems to regard it as some kind of tool to make money, not to be used for meditation, philosophy and other enjoyable private activities. And besides, I love her, so I can't very well be jealous or envious of her then, now can I? It might be that I would feel bad about standing in her shadow if I did experience that every day, month after month. Now that would be interesting to test ... Heh. No, I don't suffer from overexposure to genius. I'll be sure to tell you when that happens.

Being reasonably healthy, living in a peaceful country, not having any enemies ... there are quite a lot of things that go my way. So I am willing to overlook the fact that there are a few people who are too rich for their own good or too popular to get any sleep. We cannot win the first price in everything. Yet.


"If there was a God, how could I endure not to be one?" The quote is attributed to Nietzsche, though it may be slightly garbled. I am not familiar enough with his work to say whether and where he said it. I have often pondered the idea, though. I think even I am not arrogant enough to feel like that. But ...

If there are supermen, how can I endure not to be one? This may soon be a valid question, if genetic modification makes those big leaps we now anticipate. In a few years, the human genome should be pretty well understood. We will be able to start treating genetic diseases on the stem cell level, in effect repairing the genetic defect for the next and all future generations. But the really wealthy will probably not be content with that. Is not lack of genius also a defect? Scientists have already created mice with more than twice the intelligence of their brethren. It may take more to do the same in humans, but science marches on.

Super intelligent, strong, agile, handsome, healthy, and aging much slower than the Normals ... the new generation of Homo Superior may not after all be children of the atom, but of the genetic labs. Superior not by the luck of the draw or the hand of God, but the unholy union of money and science. Now, if you think you have seen envy these days...

Just a thought. Have a happy weekend! Try not to envy anyone ... :)

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