Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ha! I found some mindless speculation!

Wherein suckers!

That whispering sound right before something weird happens/someone suddenly appears? Human-sized pnuematic tubes. Obviously, that's how the Others get around the island.

Immodest Proposals proposes:
  • Sen. John McCain = John Locke
  • Sen. Barack Obama = Dr. Jack Shephard
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton = Ben Linus

Hey, don't blame me, I voted for Hurley.

This week's Lost theory: nothing but competition among secretive nongovernment entities.

I've read much speculation on the level of evilness contained within Ben. He lies, he manipulates, he has no qualms about the murder of dozens of he musst be evil. Right? Yet, in the future Sayid goes to work for him and since we like Sayid it's inconceviable he'd go to work for someone evil. Right? Let's set aside, for the moment, Sayid -- our favorite reformed torturer who can't seem to stop torturing people. Instead let us consider at least three groups in play: Ben/Others, DHARMA, Widmore coalition.

Since early in the first season I've expected a classic good versus evil power struggle with our favorite Lostaways having to choose sides for their survival. But what if good versus evil, it's evil versus evil. So far we know little about Widmore; other than he's a dick. DHARMA was conducting experiments on the island for unknown purposes. The Others, having slaughtered the DHARMA workers, killed and kidnapped the crash survivors are on the island for...for something...

The island is in play as a valuable resource that few know about. The one's that do know about it seem able to go to extremes to control it. So far, no one is looking very benevolent and only interested in the Lostaways for momentary reasons. All which reminds me of my favorite political/conspiracy novel, Interface:
Otho Simpson, eighty-six, had, as was his pattern, gone to bed at 00:00:00 Greenwich Mean Time. This time was as good a bedtime as any other and was easy to remember. Otho and Otis lived belowground, in a former lead mine, and did not pay much attention to the diurnal cycle upstairs. Their job was to gather and respond to information from all over the world, from all twenty-four time zones, and so there was not much point in trying to hew to a particular schedule. Unlike his son, Otho had a mind that, had he chosen, could have earned him a Nobel Prize in economics or physics or at least made him a very rich man in a more conventional sense. Instead, he had become an accountant of sorts, and spent his life looking after a body of investments with a total cash value in the neighborhood of thirty trillion U.S. dollars.

These assets did not belong to any one specific person or entity, as far as Otho could tell. They belonged to a coordinated international group of investors. Otho didn't know who these people were. He wasn't supposed to know and he probably wasn't supposed to think about it. But he did think about it from time to time, and he had drawn some conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. Most of them were individuals, many were families, some were corporations. Their net worths varied from a few million dollars up to tens of billions. Judging from the hours when they liked to do business, most of them must be living in American and Eurapean time zones, with a few in the time zones that were used by Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Any information that could conceivably influence the performance of the economy -- public and proprietary, opena nd secret, from hard data to vicious gossip -- was funneled into the capsule over a variety of communications links. Otho read every word of it and used it to manage the investments of the Network.

The president's State of the Union address gets everyone riled up. Otho continues:
"That bastard has just got every bull and bear in the world going insane." Otho set the faxes down on his bedside table and slipped his feet into a pair of slippers by the bed. "But he's hald right. This country has problems. Someone needs to do something or all of its investors will get screwed."


"Yup. America used to have citizens. Then its government put it up for sale. Now it;s got investors. You and I work for the investors. It was just a matter of time before some politician actually became stupid enough to mention forgiving the national debt."

"How are you going to handle this, Daddy?"

"Crank up the word-processing software. I'm going to do the first round-robin report since the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is too big for me to just fly off the handle -- I have to provide the Network some options."

He sat down in front of a large high-resolution monitor and began jotting down a few options, as they came into his head. Later, he could rework them into deathless prose:

a. Pull investment out of the U.S. national debt -- absorbing the losss immediately -- and explore new areas, such as purchasing the larger part of the former Soviet Union;
b. Do nothing and hope that the American political structure will muddle through;
c. Intervene directly in American politics in order to return it to a certain sort of stability and to insure our long-term investment in the debt;
d. Suggestions?

The returns came in remarkably quickly. In the aftermath of the President's speech, everyone important was awake right now, regardless of time zone.

With the exception of a few Middle Easterners who wanted the Network to invest massively in the Muslim-dominated republics of the former Soviet Union, most of the Network liked the third option. The clincher was a fax from Lady Wilburdon, the acting chairperson, who noted, "You have done well for us, and we place our trust in you. Put your country back in working order."

The United States had borrowed ten trillion dollars since the onset of Reaganomics. A significant fraction of that debt was now owned by the Network. Those loans were supposed to bring in a certain fixed amount of interest every year. The cap proposed by the President would reduce that income by an amount on the order of a few tens of billions of dollars per year.

In the long run, then, the Network stood to lose hundreds of billions of dollars from the measures that the President had just proposed. Otho was therefore justified in spending real money here -- easily in the tens of billions. This was more than enough to throw an election. Perot had nearly done it for just a few hundred million.

Otho knew perfectly well that his Network was not the only organization of its type in the world, and that he was not the only person running through this sort of calculation tonight.

If the Network planned carefully and wasn't too obvious about it, it could actually erect a system that would enable America's investors to have a permanent say in the management of their assets. The more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that it was a sound decision. He should have done it a long time ago.

The United States of America had served its purpose. It was time to cash her in. Like a big creaky old corporation, her individual parts, intelligently liquidated, were worth more than the whole. Under new, fiscally responsible management, she could still perform well, pay her debts, and provide a tolerable standard of living for her citizens. Otho needed to make sure that that management was provided by the Network and not by one of the other entities with which the Network competed.

Later, Lady Wilburdon explains further:
There are only five entities in the world with sufficient wisdom to pursue consistent strategies over periods of several centuries," Lady Wilburdon said. "These entities are not national or governmental in nature -- even the best governments are dangerously unstable and short-lived. Such an entity is self-preserving and self-perpetuating. A world war, or the rise and fall of an empire or an alliance such as the USSR or NATO, is no more serious, to it, than a gust of wind buffeting the sails of a clipper ship.

"In no particular order, one is the Catholic Church. One is Japan -- which is nothing more than a group of zaibatsus, or major industrial combines. The third is a loose network of shtetls. After the expulsion from Spain in 1492, they forcibly realized the importance of longe-range planning, and in the intervening years have accumulated formidable assets. The fourth one we don't know much about; it seems to connect many of the recalcitrantly traditional cultures of the Third and Fourth Worlds and to be headquartered somewhere in Central Asia. And the fifth is the Network. It is an alliance of large investors, both individual and institutional, predominantly European and American. You might think of it as the legacy, the residue, of the East India Company, the Hudson's Bay Company, the American railway companies, Standard Oil, and the technological empires of our time. It is the most decentralized of the five entities -- really just an effort to pursue investments, and certain other activities, in a coordinated fashion."

"So you're saying that the Network is going to take over the United States?"

"The Network wouldn't want it," Lady Wilburdon said. "Governments, as I mentioned, are dodgy. All the Network wants is to stabilize the return on its investment in the national debt."


Blogger Icepick said...

It's like this. Widmore = Evil Richard Branson. He owns Oceanic. Independent of that, he had discovered the existence of The Island and set out to find it.

I believe he may have originally discovered The Island through purchasing DHARMA - after DHARMA's Island Project had collapsed. These Branson types are the kind of people who will buy up other people's failed ventures on the cheap, looking for something of interest.

Also, the guy playing Widmore just keeps turning up in different shows, playing characters that just keep getting richer and more evil. Damnit, I want to keep getting richer and more evil!

3/10/2008 07:11:00 AM  

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