Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman (Part 2)

A Fifteen Hour Workweek. Leisure time is scarce in modern society, but why is that so? By 2030, Keynes predicted that mankind would have trouble filling up their spare time. Earlier, Benjamin Franklin predicted that we would work 4 hour days only. Employers were not keen to let their employees work for so short hours everyday. Henry Ford discovered that a shorter work week made employees more productive. In 1938, legislation to protect the 5 day workweek was passed. After WWII, leisure time continued to rise. It was predicted that machines would do all the work in future. Working would only be reserved for the elite. The spread of boredom might be a concern for Mankind. There was a concern that too much free time would bring about boredom and idleness. Are scientists prediction of what life would be like in 2062 come true? The irony is that in modern society, the working week is actually growing. It has to do with the feminist revolution. Parenting is a lot more time-intensive nowadays. The smartphone might even lead to the ordinary worker working even longer hours. Consumption has increased a lot more recently. Would our standard of living decrease if we work less? Productivity and long work hours do not go hand in hand. Even in the modern society, 40 hour workweeks might be too much. Research has shown that 6 hours per day is optimum. Working less solves the problem of stress and leads to increased levels of happiness. It might solve climate change and reduce the number of accidents too. It might address unemployment too. Paternity leave is extremely important nowadays. It might address the issue of aging population too. Nowadays, people tend to show off if they are busy. There is not enough paid work to go around. Is the strategy of shorter working hours what we all want? The answer is yes. The countries with the shortest workweeks have the largest number of volunteers and social capital. We all are capable of handling the good life.

It’s quite simple, really. Time is money. Economic growth can yield either more leisure or more consumption. – Rutger Bregman

It is worth noting, however, that the line between work and leisure has blurred in recent times. Work is now often perceived as a kind of hobby, or even as the very crux of our identity. – Rutger Bregman

There’s not a person on Earth who on their deathbed thinks, “Had I only put in a few more hours at the office or sat in front of the tube some more.” – Rutger Bregman

Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. – Oscar Wilde

Why It Doesn’t Pay to Be a Banker. The trash workers went on strike. The streets were extremely stinky. It actually pays to strike. These are essential services which actually do much good to others. However, wall street traders don’t do much. These are the jobs that simply shift money around. Now, in modern society, more people are able to earn without contributing anything tangible to society. Ireland did okay without the bankers for 6 months. It did not have a debilitating impact on daily life. Creating complex financial products actually destroys wealth. Why are we working harder than ever before? Many people admit that they are doing bullshit jobs. Banking is very exclusive to the elite few. Some people feel that their job had no meaning and significance. This is a problem with the capitalist society. The modern society is concerned with nothing but profit. Now, it is all about milking the cash without innovation. Just imagine how society will be if we just focused on creating things of value. It does not mean that you earn much, it automatically means you are contributing to society. In modern times, more people have sought to move to banking. We need to tax higher earners even more. A teacher has a direct hand in shaping the future. We need to intervene at the classroom level. Which knowledge and skills do we want in our children in 2030? A shorter work week allows us to spend more time on ourselves. Society determines what has real value. After the strike, the garage collectors had a significant pay increase.

Making money without creating anything of value is anything but easy. It takes talent, ambition, and brains. And the banking world is brimming with clever minds. – Rutger Bregman

The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. – Arthur C. Clarke

Race Against the Machine. Machines help to eliminate certain jobs. Robots should help to reduce the average number of working hours. People are educated, but your skills might be superfluous after a while. Moore realized the power of computers and that it would soon surpass humans. Machines help in the transportation sector, such as container shipping. The ratio of capital to labour is not constant. Technology has been advancing at an astounding rate. Who’s profiting from this? There are fewer winners as time passes. Inequality has been increasing in developed countries. Many jobs are at risk to be overtaken by machines. It will come in the next 20 years. That are some that argue that automation will create new jobs. Productivity is at record levels in the 2000s. Even the most modern of computers can defeat chess masters. Robots can hone our mental capacities. Automated cars might take over drivers on the roads soon. By 2029, it is predicted that computers will be as intelligent as people. There is no limit for machine computing power. In 1811, some men declared a war on machines, but the machines won. The whole point of robots is for them to do tasks that humans would rather not do themselves. How can we compete against the machine? It seems like there is limited hope and that inequality will continue to increase. Should we continue to focus on education? However, the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked. Maybe a solution is to bring a hammer. Humans still have the ultimate say as to how to shape our destiny. We need a massive redistribution of income.

The reality is that it takes fewer and fewer people to create a successful business, meaning that when a business succeeds, fewer and fewer people benefit. – Rutger Bregman

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment. – Popular joke among economists

Beyond the Gates of the Land of Plenty. Should we try to give everyone on Earth the joys of the Land of Plenty? We spend a lot of money on developmental aid. Nobody knows whether it has helped much or not. Sometimes, the usage can be different than what was intended. Is the remedy worse than the disease? The first form of aid happened in 1998. Studies have shown that providing free textbooks does not improve scores. We all should aim to take the guess work out of policy making. Is it better to give out free mosquito nets or to sell them? Even microcredit has not been proven effective at combating poverty and illness. Handing out cash is better. However, not everything is measurable. There are the 3 Is of development and they are ideology, ignorance and inertia. There needs to be strong measures against tax evasion especially in poor countries. Opening the gates is one way to give the poor a chance. After the war, countries protected their borders tightly. The world is wide open except for people. Opening borders to labour would boost wealth tremendously. The inhabitants of the Land of Plenty are filthy rich. We turn away refugees way too easily. Americans earn a lot more than their South American counterparts. Opening the borders is one of our best strategies against poverty. However, people often lament that by doing so, you will bringing terrorists in. The risk of terrorism is low. Immigration actually reduces in a decline of terrorist activities. They are not all criminals. There is practically zero correlation between ethnic background and crime. They will not undermine social cohesion too. Diversity cannot be used to blame cohesion in society. There is an argument that foreigner influx can help create more employment opportunities. Will cheap immigrant labor force wages down? A think tank has showed that immigration has virtually no effect on wages. It is not true that foreigners are too lazy to work. Immigrants actually take less advantage of public assistance. Governments can set criteria for them and make it harder for them to get PR. One way is to create language and culture tests. Open borders actually promote immigrant return. Opening the borders is not something we can do overnight. Just cracking the door around migration will help us tremendously.

How Ideas Change the World. There were some people who believed that the world would end on Dec 21, 1954. This was a prophecy that failed. Humans tend to suffer from cognitive dissonance, where people recalibrate reality rather than amend their worldview. Humans tend to stubborn. The more educated you are, the more unwilling you will be to change. Can new ideas like a universal basic income truly change the world? However, people’s ideas can indeed change over time. Sometimes, a single opposing voice can make all the difference. Had we invested too much in our old convictions? There is a lot we can learn from Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. There are lessons we can learn from Neoliberalism. The world is getting richer and safer. It is okay to dream and keep plugging away.

People are most likely to change their opinions if you confront them with new and disagreeable facts as directly as possible. – Rutger Bregman

Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking. – Eduardo Galeano



Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman (Part 1)

How We can Build The Ideal World

‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.’ Oscar Wilde

The Return of Utopia. In the past, the world was much worse than what it was today. Poverty rates have fallen and life expectancy has increased. The last 2 centuries have seen explosive growth, like nothing mankind has ever experienced. People are 250 times richer as compared to the Industrial Revolution. People used to dream of a brighter future. Modern world suffers from problems like obesity, pollution etc. Modern medicine has allowed those who have suffered to live again. Driverless cars are on our roads. Internet access and smartphones are getting more widespread. Vaccines are useful to prevent diseases and pre-mature death. In terms of literacy, humans are at our all-time high. Although everything seems good, we may lack a purpose in life. We live in a capitalist and consumer driven society. How can we improve our current state? A common utopia is one of blueprints, where dissension is not tolerated. Transgressions are not allowed and will be punished. Why are we working long hours than before even though we are richer now. To many, utopias turn out into dystopias and nightmares. We crave freedom, but it some ways, it is an empty freedom. We spend too much on health care. The advertisers and mass media benefit from over consumption. This is the dystopia we are living in. We are pampered too much. We believed in big dreams in the past but we know that reality is very different. We are becoming more anxious over time. We are becoming more and more alike. There are other ways to progress other than via capitalism. Our utopia will start small and grow from there. Even though things are well, we need to constantly improve.

And the ad industry encourages us to spend money we don’t have on junk we don’t need in order to impress people we can’t stand. – Rutger Bregman

If success is a choice, then so is failure. Lost your job? You should have worked harder. Sick? You must not be leading a healthy lifestyle. Unhappy? Take a pill. – Rutger Bregman

Why We Should Give Free Money to Everyone. Feeding the homeless might be cheaper than locking them in jail or providing social services. One other way is to give them money. This is ironic, but it might work. How they spend it is up to them. The fact is that most of them were actually prudent in their spending. Some even used the money for personal growth. Giving money to them might be the most efficient way to help them. Free money doesn’t make people lazy. This has been proved by different studies. This has been proved in Namibia and Malawi. This might be superior to spending money on food etc. You have the freedom to buy want you need. This was already mentioned in Thomas More in his book in 1516. The dream is for all to have a universal basic income for everyone. Canada experimented with this idea in the 1970s. Mincome, a city in Canada, worked well under this model. There is a fear that people would be lazy if they didn’t work. There is little evidence that people would be lazy if they had a basic sum of money each month. President Nixon pushed for it in the past, but it often got rejected by the Senate. Many years back, democracy seemed a utopia, but it has worked. The benefit of giving people a basic income is that the poor can take on jobs which can give them growth. This should be the aim of capitalism.

Poverty is fundamentally about a lack of cash. It’s not about stupidity. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have no boots. – Joseph Hanlon

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the vast majority of people actually want to work, whether they need to or not. In fact, not having a job makes us deeply unhappy. – Rutger Bregman

So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living. – Richard Buckminster Fuller

The End of Poverty. A new casino opened in 1997. It was Harrah’s Cherokee. It was run by Cherokee Indians. Organized crime did not increase. Those kids who grew up in poverty tended to have behavioral problems. Which was the cause, and which was the effect? Costello’s subjects who were lifted out of poverty had much lesser behavioral problems. Money from the casino earnings were given to needy families. The tribe ended up thriving after the casino earnings. Genes can’t be undone. Poverty can. Why do the poor tend to make dumb decisions? Poverty is something the individual has to overcome on their own. In economics, always everything revolves around scarcity. Poor people find food scarce, so they need to find an incredible way to make ends meet and that is a good thing. You can’t take a break from poverty. It’s all about the context. You can’t take a break from poverty, unlike a situation where you are busy at work. We all need to increase our gross domestic mental bandwidth. Getting out of poverty is more important than education. One solution is to give needy students a hand with financial aid paperwork. Does money enable you to be happy and healthy? Inequality is a big issue in modern society. Relative poverty is very important because like to compare themselves with others. Social mobility goes up when inequality goes up. Even rich people might not feel good if the inequality in their country is too high. Providing free apartments are also useful, as it helps to get homeless people off the streets. Homelessness can certainly be solved. We need to address the root cause, not the symptom.

Scarcity consumes you. You’re less able to focus on other things that are also important to you. – Eldar Shafir

The effect of poverty lowers your IQ by around 13 or 14 points. That’s comparable to losing a night’s sleep or the long term effects of alcohol. – Eldar Shafir

If you’d like to have more money, time, friends, or food, you’re more likely to experience a sense of scarcity. And the things you want are determined to a large extent by what people around you have. – Rutger Bregman

Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult. – Samuel Johnson

The Bizarre Tale of President Nixon and His Basic Income Bill. Historians have more to give us. We should look and learn from history as much as possible. We shall look at Richard Nixon. He was forced to resign after the Watergate scandal in 1974. There were many who opposed his plan of giving free money to everyone. Anderson managed to change Nixon’s mind. The Speenhamland system failed badly in the 19th century England. Why did the President switch his mind? However, his message of wanting to fight laziness among the poor caused people to turn against the idea of basic income. Speenhamland appeared to be successful initially. In the fact, people were convinced that population growth will exceed food production. However, it was a disaster because of a few reasons. Marx believed that a revolution was needed to bring people out of poverty, not a basic income. Modern historians have realized that the results from Speenhamland might not be reliably measured. The consensus that the poor were becoming more lazy might be untrue. The Royal Commission Report changed Nixon’s decision. The truth of population growth indefinitely might not hold true. In 1834, the Speenhamland system was dismantled. The idea of a self-regulating market that will liberate the poor was still a dream. There are some scholars who believe that Speenhamland was a success. Things could have been handled so much better. The idea of a welfare state was hit badly as a result of Speenhamland. People who are poor only thing about the here and now and not the future.

The gross national product…measures everything…except that which makes life worthwhile. – Robert F. Kennedy

New Figures for a New Era. The Japan earthquake on Mar 11, 2011 wrecked havoc on the Japanese economy. However, the economy recovered miraculously fast. It had a silver lining for GDP. Rebuilding has a huge impetus for the government. However, we shouldn’t welcome these disasters. GDP does not measure the intangible benefits to society. It does not measure things like community service, clean air etc. Also, things like domestic workers are not measured in the GDP. Denmark has tried to quantify the value of breastfeeding in its GDP. GDP does not measure advances in technology. The higher the social problems, the more it will contribute to GDP. In the past, banks took up a huge slice of GDP due to their risk taking culture. Are we placing too much emphasis on GDP? Almost all politicians believe that growth is good for employment and the economy. The idea of GDP was already mooted in the 1800s. Adam Smith believed that those who worked in services industry produced nothing at all. Alfred Marshall realized that it was not so much the nature of products that mattered, but the price. However, accurate calculations on GDP only existed in the 1900s. It was essentially invented by a Russian professor named Simon Kuznets in 1932. It would be an excellent yardstick for any country. The GDP could give an overall picture of the economy. Even today, many professors do not understand how GDP works. GDP measures all the activity within its borders (including by foreign enterprises). GDP was very useful after a war. There are many other useful statistics that can serve us better than GDP. Today, the economy is so much more complicated than just some production numbers. In Bhutan, a gross national happiness index was suggested. Two possible candidates might be the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) or the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW). The wealthier a country is, the more difficult it is to measure that wealth. In Europe, the governments subsidize domains where productivity can’t be leveraged. The cost of health care is bound to increase. We will need indications to track life, eg. Community service, social cohesion, jobs, knowledge etc. We need to rethink how we relook at growth?

Productivity is for robots. Humans excel at wasting time, experimenting, playing, creating, and exploring. – Kevin Kelly


The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

The jellyfish drifts in the ocean. There is no compass to guide it as it sways and pulses. However, the continents started to form and it disrupted the peace. What will the creature do or think. The creature was pinned from fallen concrete. He suffered radiation sickness. He couldn’t walk properly and was escorted by the elevator guard. Mannie was one of the characters. Mannie was feeling like crap and a stranger was talking to him. The medic thought that Mannie was on drugs. He was taking it for 2 months already. Mannie didn’t want to reveal who gave it to him. The guard wanted to help Mannie. Some kids were suffering from kwashiorkor, according to the medic. Help didn’t come fast enough as there was a lot of red tape.

Ain’t it great to be alive? – Mannie

Dr William Haber was a professor had a picture of Mount Hood in his room. Mr Greene was his patient for tomorrow. It was a drug abuse case. Penny was his secretary and did the administrative work. Global warming had caused the Earth massive harm. All the snow were gone. Mr Orr came into his room. Mr Orr had consumed more than his usual allotment of pep pills and sleeping pills from autodrug. Haber wanted to administer therapy on Orr. The dosage exceeded Orr’s Pharm Card. Orr suffered from bad dreams. Haber was a dream specialist. He said Orr took drugs to deprive himself of dreams. If you deprive yourself of dreams, your mind will suffer and become irritable. Partial dream deprivation was not good for the body. Orr was afraid of dreaming. Orr revealed that his dreams affected the non-dream world, the real world and was alarmed by it. He dreamt something and that something came true. Haber dismissed his claim. Orr could change things. Aunt Ethel was Orr’s mother’s sister. She was always in Orr’s dreams. Orr dreamt she was killed in a car crash. True enough, as per the dream, the telegram came. It really happened in reality! Haber thought he was a schizophrenic. His mother didn’t have any memory of it. Orr said he didn’t want to change things. Orr was a draftsman for the Bonneville-Umatilla Power District. Orr had no problem with his relationships. Haber wanted to teach him to dream safely. His solution was to get Orr to dream intensely and vividly. He had a Palace of Dreams. He would make Orr wear a trancap . Also, Orr would be hypnotized. He finally worked out a basic machine. Haber said that it would have a high chance of curing Orr. The augmentor would ensure deep sleep. Haber would be using the v-c induction method. There were 4 states of sleep: waking, trance, s-sleep and d-state. The d-state was short, and one needed to enter the s-state first. Haber connected the trancap and could view Orr’s brain signals on the EEG. Orr’s brain was extraordinarily complex. Orr managed to dream and it was captured on the EEG. It was a dream about him being with a horse in the field. Suddenly, Haber realized that that the picture of a horse in his room should have been a picture of Mount Hood. Orr was also known as George. Haber pretended that the picture of the horse was there in his room all along. Haber didn’t have the double memory. He wanted George to come back again to see him. George admitted that the horse resembled Haber.

Dreams are incoherent, selfish, irrational – immoral. They come from the unsocialized part of us, don’t they, at least partly? I didn’t want to kill poor Ethel. I just wanted her out of my way. Well, in a dream, that’s likely to be drastic. Dreams take shortcuts. – Mr Orr

George didn’t own a car. He was in a crowded train at the moment. It was very warm and the air was polluted. The sea levels were rising rapidly. It was constantly raining in Oregon. Orr went to see Haber again. Haber wasn’t well versed in current affairs and the war in Afghanistan. George was soon put to sleep again. It was a dream about the horse again as Haber wanted him to have that dream. Now, it was in a stable and the horse was in it. He released a huge pile of shit. Then, the dream ended. The mural behind him was now Mount Hood and not of the horse anymore. The doctor did not recall the horse-mural. Now, Orr felt being made use of. The Augmentor was a means for self-stimulation was the brain. Haber emphasized on the importance of releasing mental powers. Orr was disappointed by Haber’s denial of the change in the mural. Orr was frustrated with society and the whole crowding/city life in general. Haber made him sleep again. Now, Orr dreamt about the South Seas, coconuts etc. Orr promised to return again for another session of therapy. Orr dreamt of Kennedy as well in the previous dream. While in the train, Orr thought he was living in a nightmare. He felt giddy now. Orr was also having difficulty recalling unconscious thoughts. Suddenly, he suspected that Haber knew what was going on in his mind. Why didn’t Haber confess about the mural change? Orr’s mind was active and he kept thinking.
The setting is Portland. There was an automatic-elevator parking system. High-rise offices were everywhere. Miss Lelache thought of herself as a Black Widow. She was with Mr Orr in her office. Mr Orr was under Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment. This man had a drug problem. Lelache was a lawyer. Orr was a patient of Dr Haber and he claims that Haber was using his ability to use him dreams to exert influence over reality. Orr explained the whole story of Dr Haber’s treatment methods to Lelache. The problem was that Haber doesn’t direct him to do anything, except dream them. It would hard to find evidence to indict Haber. Orr felt he was being used as an instrument, even though Haber’s ends are good. Lelache was confused by his wants. It was like Orr had the ability to enter an alternative Universe when dreaming. It would be extremely hard to get evidence. Orr wanted Lelache to sit in for one of the therapy sessions. She agreed to help.
Atwood passed Mr Haber. Penny Crouch was around as well. Haber started thinking. He had to go through government letters. He went into sleep research. Science to him, had to be applicable. A HEW inspector was coming to inspect Dr Haber’s augmentor. Haber greeted the lawyer. Haber expected a cordial relationship with her. Lelache wanted Haber to explain what he was doing with Orr. Sleep can be induced at any time. It was non-intrusive in nature. However, it was research that was tested well enough. His method of auto-stimulation had no effect on the patient after the treatment. The dream content is manipulated by hypnotic suggestion. Miss Lelache wanted to meet Orr. Haber was confident that the process would do Orr no harm at all. The hypnotic process started and was in effect now. Orr didn’t like overpopulation. Haber proposed that Orr was afraid of being touched by others. Orr would dream about overpopulation now. Haber showed Lelache the EEG traces. Finally, Haber cut out the augmentor. Would Lelache keep both memories (before and after the dream)? Now, Haber wanted to stop Lelache. Outside the window, something had changed. Lelache seemed shocked by the change. The world seemed very sparse now, with only 1 billion people. 6 billion of the others had disappeared. What happened to them? Lelache thought there was something wrong with her. George finally woke up now. Orr had dreamt about the plague. There was no over-population now. Haber convinced him that the world was better now with no overpopulation and that he didn’t be so anxious. Orr confessed that he buried people in his latest dream. Lelache was not allowed to talk to George and Haber wanted George in the next afternoon again. Haber drank his whisky and shouted ‘To a better world!’

A person is defined solely by the extent of his influence over other people, by the sphere of his interrelationships; and morality is an utterly meaningless term unless defined as the good one does to theirs, the fulfilling of one’s function in the sociopolitical whole. – Dr Haber

Our task is only beginning. Orr had a nice and cosy house. He was terrified when he got home and wanted to do something about everything. He didn’t want to do. Orr knew he didn’t want to go back to Haber. He knew it would be difficult to escape Haber. He murdered 6 billion people. If he quit Haber, Orr would be in trouble as he had obtained drugs illegally. To continue, Orr knew he needed to take the dream suppressants. However, in order to do so, he had to co-operate with Haber. Orr kept thinking that Haber’s ends were good, but how about the means? Lelache called Orr. She didn’t suspect any wrongdoing by Haber. Haber got promoted to be a director ever since he worked on Orr. Lelache arranged to meet Orr. She could not reveal a lot to Orr about what Haber had said during the treatment. Food was surplus in this underpopulated world now. Orr suddenly thought that it was okay to dream because he saved the world from overpopulation. He wanted to dream again. The air was still very polluted. There were not many factories or cars anymore. War also broke out because of the Plague. The world was also engaged in a nuclear war. Haber was like an onion, he had no centre, only layers. Orr always thought that Haber was using his dreams to change the world. Orr didn’t think it was right to force the pattern of things. The war was coming soon and Orr knew Haber wanted to end it. The end justifies the means. What if there was no end? Orr claimed that he was watching a battle in space from Earth in his dream. Orr was supposed to dream of peace as instructed by Haber. He claimed that it would be idealistic to imagine a world without war. Instead, he thought that it would be better to substitute one war with another. Who has humanitarian dreams? Orr claimed that he might not be the best person for the job. Orr was afraid that the aliens might land one day on Earth. Haber said that Orr was working towards freedom and that freedom was the most important thing there was. He said that the unconscious mind contained health, imagination, creativity.

I haven’t any strength, I haven’t any character, I’m a born tool. I haven’t any destiny. All I have is dreams. And now other people run them. – George Orr
Isn’t that man’s very purpose on earth – to do things, change things, run things, make a better world? – Dr Haber
I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass. – Dr Haber

Daydreaming holds a lot of possibilities. Dreaming is the approach of an invisible reality. Lelache was supposed to meet Orr for lunch. Orr did not answer his phone. She explored his apartment without his permission. Orr was just a quiet man who lived quietly. Manager also didn’t know where Orr was. Orr used to borrow Manager’s Pharm Card. Lelache wanted to pursue Orr. She drove out of the city. The Aliens attacked the Lunar Base and killed all the astronauts. Orr was hiding in a cabin when Lelache found him. He couldn’t sleep. Heather went to visit him. Orr didn’t want to sleep as he was afraid to. Orr was skipping therapy. Orr was a strong man and could rely on himself. Heather admired him for his strength of character. Orr also drank some brandy. He slept standing up so he couldn’t dream. Orr was worried that he might be going insane. He was concerned about which the real things in life. Heather’s husband died in the war 3 days ago. Orr claimed that he dreamed aliens because Haber wanted to dream about peace on Earth. Heather was also Lelache’s other name. Haber had a fixed view of the world and he wouldn’t change it. She suggested that Orr dream about him. However, Orr said that he couldn’t really control what he dreamt about. Lelache suggested that she hypnotize him now. The plan was to dream that Haber was a nice man who wanted to help Orr. She was a Portlander and was a mix between a black and a white. The wars and the plague were horrible, but so was overpopulation. Orr claimed the world ended 4 years ago, in April 1998. The world was in chaos then. Lelache started to hypnotize him. Orr was fast asleep now. Now, she got shivery. It was cold and she found it difficult to sleep. Something was wrong. There were sirens around. The Aliens had landed. This was part of Lelache’s plan, which was for Orr to dream that the Aliens were no longer on the Moon.

A person who believes that things fit: that there is a whole of which one is a part, and that in being a part one is whole; such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play god. Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it. – Lelache
Are there really people without resentment, without hate? People who never go cross-grained to the Universe? Who recognize evil, and resist evil, and yet are utterly unaffected by it? – Lelache
The only solution I really can see is to kill myself. But I don’t want to. It just doesn’t seem right. – George Orr

Only Oregon was targeted by the war. It was basically a defenseless state. Missiles exploded on Oregon. Lava started flowing from Mount Hood on the first day of the alien invasion. Earthquakes were a common place. The jets accidentally bombed wrong areas. The whole city was affected by power failure as well. Haber was still looking for Orr and he headed back to his office. To Haber, he didn’t like long term relationships and only believed in the power of free will and independence. But now, he felt lonely. Although he had food supplies etc, he felt deeply alone. He felt a strong sense of apathy and regret. Orr was injured and came looking for Dr Haber. Orr came with a woman too. Orr and Lelache were involved in an accident on the way to Haber’s office. The scene outside was like Hell and Haber wanted Orr to dream and put things right. Haber had improved his augmentor now. Orr believed in the new machine and wanted to try. Orr was surprisingly calm even though there was chaos outside. Both Haber and Orr were impelled towards the window now. They were both sucked in. Haber directed Lelache to the basement now. She went off. There was a large object moving outside the air. Haber wanted Orr to dream about peace and hypnotized him. Haber stared at the alien ship outside. Its snout filled the entire room. Haber was brave and tried to protect the augmentor at all costs. Just as it was about to strike Haber, it withdrew. From the ship’s snout, a giant turtle wearing a suit emerged. The creature said ‘Do not do to others what you wish others not to do to you.’ The creature said that he came in peace and that their species were not armed. It encouraged humans to stop destroying themselves. Finally, the alien ship withdrew. Orr said that he dreamt that an alien entered his office and that Haber and it started talking. That happened in reality. Orr said that an effective dream is a reality. Orr pleaded desperately for Haber to contact the government and stop this mindless killings. In a dream, there was no free will. Orr couldn’t choose, he simply followed. Haber thought that by communicating with the government, Orr would be redundant now.
Orr didn’t like his job now. The continents were unchanged. Portland was now home of the world planning center. The city was very futuristic. Lelache was no longer in the phone book and changed office. Orr suspected that she might not have even been born now. Everyone looked the same now and they all worked in the World Planning Center. They all wore grey clothes. Haber suggested that Orr dreamt a world where there were no more color problems. There were no racial problems anywhere now and war was a problem no more as well. There were no brown people and that was why Orr couldn’t find Lelache. Orr felt the world was empty and people didn’t have character now. Haber was now the Director of HURAD, the vital center of the World Planning Center. He was more powerful now. There was no end and he wanted to keep improving the world. The aliens were allowed to land as they were peaceful. Some of the aliens established businesses on Earth. Mount Hood erupted and caused much pollution. Everyone was grey now. Some members of the crowd were armed with a hypodermic gun, where they could administer euthanasia on others. Later, while walking, Orr saw this sign ‘THE GREATEST GOOD FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER’. Haber wanted to do away with hypnosis now as he had improved his technology. He wanted Orr to try a waking state dream. Orr was suspicious as Haber kept wanting to find out more but he had no cure for him. Haber emphasized the importance of change for the human race. The society now believed in eugenics and will put those with inferior genes to sleep. Now, an alien started talking to Orr. Speech is silver, silence is gold. Self is universe. The augmentor was amplifying what the brain was doing at the moment. Orr said that he couldn’t allow Haber to use his dreams anymore. Haber wanted to induce the e-state in other humans too. He said that if he managed to achieve that, Orr would not be necessary. Haber would not hesitate to use legal or psychic coercion if Orr failed to co-operate. Although the world was better, Orr had his doubts on the future direction of the world. Haber said that Orr was a moral jellyfish when he almost destroyed the world in the past. Haber had to guide Orr along the way. He was adamant that the experimentation needed to continue. Experiments or techniques needed to be replicated in order to be useful. Haber imagined a world like heavens, and men will be like gods! Orr promised to come back tomorrow.

Nobody was every outcaste in India – nobody was every lynched in Alabama – nobody was massacred in Johannesburg! War’s a problem we’ve outgrown and race is a problem we never ever had! Nobody in the entire history of the human race has suffered for the color of his skin. – Dr Haber
When things don’t change any longer, that’s the end result of entropy, the heat-death of the universe. The more things go on moving, interrelating, conflicting, changing, the less balance there is – and the more life. I’m pro-life. – Dr Haber
The world is, no matter how we think it ought to be. You have to be with it. You have to let it be. – George Orr
We need health. We simply have no room for the incurables, the gene-damaged who degrade the species; we have no time for wasted, useless suffering. – Dr Haber
But where’s democratic government got to? People can’t choose anything at all anymore for themselves. Why is everything so shoddy, why is everybody so joyless? – George Orr

George contemplated on the loss of free will. He thought he was insane because he lost it. This life was hollow, there was no room to create. Orr started walking around and went into a shop. The shopowner was an alien. He started talking to it. He asked the alien about Lelache. The alien was Tiua’k Ennbe Ennbe. Orr felt that the aliens were on his side as he could connect with them. The problem with Haber was that he was out of touch. Orr started playing the CD he bought on the phonograph. The lyrics read ‘Do you need anybody? I need somebody to love. I get by, with a little help, with a little help from my friends.’ Lelache was high on marijuana now. Orr felt asleep while listening to the music. Orr managed to find Lelache. She was grey but elated to see him. She encouraged Orr not to go back to Haber at all costs. Orr and she had been married for 7 months already. Haber reminded Lelache of Alexander the Great, who was just power-hungry. Later, Haber stood in their doorway. Haber only promised 1 more session with Orr. Orr said okay. Orr was under hypnosis, as planned. Haber instructed Orr to dream an effective dream, a normal dream. He mentioned what a great help Orr has been to the institute’s work. Orr finally woke up even during d-state . Haber was surprised Orr managed to do that. Orr recalled that he dreamt of a picture of Mount Hood on the wall. He appeared to be in the clear as his dream was normal, and not effective now. Orr was still curious about what the term ‘iahklu’ meant. Orr mentioned that the aliens were a lot better at dreaming than humans. He suggested that Haber work his machine on an alien instead. Orr and Lelache now wanted to head out for dinner. However, something seemed strange and nothing seemed correct anymore. They could not find the restaurant they were looking for. Suddenly, Orr said he needed to return to Haber and he left. Haber started to dream and the whole world started melting now. Mount Hood erupted viciously. Orr warned Lelache not to follow him. It was an incredibly difficult journey back to the Institute. Orr managed to reach for the Augmentor and pushed the button. The world re-existed again. Haber was in a daze. His eyes were empty. Death and terror followed Haber’s dream. Orr knew that he might have lost Lelache in the chaos.

You have to help another person. But it’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough. You have to … be in touch. – George Orr

An alien spoke to Orr. He was E’nememen Asfah. The aliens communicated in a strange way, always very dream-like. The alien invited him to its apartment. It commented that Orr had lived well. Both of them slept. Orr dreamt of oceans and sea turtles that night. The economy was recovering and the world was becoming a better place now. Orr visited a mental asylum now. Dr Haber was the patient. It was unreality that man couldn’t bear. Haber couldn’t speak. Orr’s employer was the alien now. Things were returning to normalcy now. The alien sold kitchen products. Lelache was in their store at the moment. They didn’t seem to remember each other much. It turns out Lelache re-married. Finally, she recalled what happened in the past. He knew he wanted to win her back. His alien boss allowed Orr to take time off to meet Lelache for a meal.


Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Cannery Row was in Monterey, California.  It was a junky town and was inhabited by whores, pimps, gamblers etc. Men and women worked in the fishing industry and helped to harvest the sardine fleet.

Lee Chong owned a grocery store which was well stocked. It opened for long hours. Almost everyone owed him money. He was a nice guy who didn’t chase too much for outstanding debt. He lived well and was well respected by those around him. Lee was not concerned about losses. In the store, Lee had a friendly demeanour while manning the counter. There was a building which was used as a storage place for fish meal. It was owned by Horace Abbeville, who had 2 wives and six children. Lee came to him to collect debt. Horace wanted to sell the building to Lee to clear the debt. Lee agreed and the deal was clinched there and then. After that, Horace shot himself. Lee tried to help Horace’s family with the funeral proceedings as much as possible. Then, Lee met Mack. Mack was the exploiter of a group of men who had no families and no ambitions. Their group of men consists of Hazel, Eddie, Hughie, Jones. Mack suggested that he and his friends would take care of the building to prevent break-ins. Lee wanted to charge a nominal rent for them to stay. Everyone was happy about this. The house would be safe from then on.

The Word sucks up Cannery Row. Lee buried his grandfather. In this town, the men were destructive and often ruined themselves. Mack and his boys were considered beauties. Mack and his boys were not well liked by the others.

There was a railroad track and a whore house near his grocery store. Dora owned the whore house, which was actually well managed. She often was kind and ensured that the women would not starve. Alfred also worked there as a watchman. Dora was especially charitable and good to society, for fear that her whore house might have to shut. Her staff are all well-trained. The previous watchman was William and he tried unsuccessfully to bond with Mack and his boys. They didn’t want to hang out with a pimp like William. William was depressed and wanted to quit. He started talking to Eva, one of the show girls. William later killed himself in the kitchen with an ice pick. Unlike William, Alfred was well-liked.

There was an old Chinaman in the streets. He disappeared and then re-appeared during dawn again. He was carrying a wicker basket. Andy was a kid who wanted to find out who this mysterious man was. He intercepted his path one day and was frightened by the experience. He seemed to hallucinate after the entire experience.

Dora also owned the Bear Flag Restaurant. Western Biological sold lovely animals of the sea. There were jars of preserved animals. The basement of the store was used to embalm and inject animals. Doc was the owner of the Western Biological Laboratory. He was a passionate and small man. He was also very helpful despite the nature of his job. Unknowingly, he was the foundation of philosophy and science and art in Cannery Art. He lived in wonder of nature. Everyone felt indebted to him because of the way he helped others.

The doc often collected marine animals. There was plenty of beautiful sea creatures. Doc and Hazel worked in the pool. Hazel lived in the Palace Flophouse with the other boys. Hazel was born in a huge and poor family. Now, he was a 26 year old uneducated man. However, he was very hardworking and willing. Hazel didn’t know much but he knew questions were a way to keep conversations going. The starfishes caught would be sent to Northwestern University for research purposes. Gay was moving in with them in the house because his wife abused him. There was a guy who took apart his boat and changed it. Everyone was nutty in their own way. His name was Henri. It took him 7 years to build a boat, only to dismantle it again. He liked boats but didn’t like water that was why he was reluctant to finish building it. Hazel and Doc flipped a stink bug over to examine it. The stink bug liked to put their tail up in the air for no reason. Doc thought that they were praying.

The remarkable thing isn’t that they put their tails up in the air – the really incredibly remarkable thing is that we find it remarkable. We can only use ourselves as yardsticks. If we did something as inexplicable and strange we’d probably be praying. – Doc

The Palace was run down. They were a group of individualists. The palace was dilapidated and the boys wanted to do something about it. Now, they all chipped in to decorate it. Everyone contributed something to the place. Later on, they pooled money together to buy a huge stove. It was the highlight of the Palace. Eddie was an understudy bartender. Everyone felt more at home in the Palace now. Eddie often made cocktails for the rest with leftover alcohol from the bar. The boys were planning to throw a party for Doc. They contemplated how to go about doing it without letting Doc know. The old boiler was left in the vacant lot by Mr Randolph. In 1934, Mr and Mrs Sam Malloy moved into the boiler. At that time, Mr Malloy also rented the large pipes for men to sleep on.

The boys helped Hazel carry in the sacks of starfish. Mack went to chat with Mr Malloy. Doc was now arranging the starfish in long lines. Mack and the boys wanted to earn dough by killing animals in which Doc needed for his research. Doc wanted frogs and Mack agreed. Lee approved of the fact that Mack wanted to use his truck. However, before that, Mack had to fix his truck as it wasn’t able to move.

Frankie came to Western Biological since he was 11. He wanted to help Doc and he didn’t go to school. Nobody wanted him to go to school. There was something wrong with his co-ordination and his parents didn’t pay for it. Some of his uncles used to hit him real badly. Doc and Lee took care of him. Frankie was essentially a good boy who wanted to work hard. He enjoyed helping out at parties that the Doc hosted from time to time. One day, his co-ordination failed and he spilled the beer on the lady’s lap. Frankie ran off and started crying.

Lee’s Ford Truck had a history to it. Gay was an inspired mechanic and knew how to repair trucks. Now, he started fixing the car. Gay was a wonder. Now, the truck was ready to go. Gay chose back streets for the expedition. Later, while on the road, the truck broke down. Later on, Gay was jailed after he got into some trouble.

The city had a long literary tradition. There were many literary men still living. Josh Billings, a great humorist, was well worshipped after his death. Mr Carriaga came upon a small boy and a dog on the street. Apparently they picked up his liver and intestines from the rubbish after he had been embalmed. The city people took them back, for it didn’t show respect to a literary man like Josh Billings.

Eddie finally came back after obtaining the needle from another Model T’s Truck. Eddie now installed the new carburetor. They came upon a river. The place was perfect for frog hunting. They needed to wait for night before it would good to hunt. The boys were also cooking chicken at the same time. Suddenly, they wondered what happened to Gay. Mack admitted he lied to himself. He felt that he was taking advantage of Doc because there were 5 of them. Mack wanted to give him something where he wouldn’t get most of it back. They thought of giving him their whiskey instead. A man appeared and pointed a gun at them, demanding them to leave and said hunting, camping was not allowed. Mack offered to help that man’s dog who was sick and in return, the man told them were to go frog hunting.

It was early morning in Cannery Row again. There were two soldiers flirting with two ladies. Later, the watchman told them to scram as it was private property. The caretaker left eventually when on one listened to him.

Mack tried to cure the dog from its tick bites. The puppy appeared lonely. The captain offered Mack a puppy and he accepted. He started serving Mack and the boys some liquor from an old keg. It was brilliant in taste. There were thousands of frogs in the night. Mack devised a new way to catch them, which involved following them into the pool etc. Many of the frogs were nabbed and they were very successful in their adventure. There were at least 6 to 7 hundred of them. The captain really enjoyed their company. He even wanted to live with the rest on Palace Flophouse. Everyone was happy that they had the required numbers of frogs for the Doc.

Some of the girls were injured and could not perform on duty. Dora had issues with the income tax. There was an influenza epidemic in town and Mrs Talbot and Tom Work had it. The doctors were all very busy. The doc was very busy going from house to house to take care of the people. Some of the kids were indeed very sick. He suggested that Dora keep some of the lonely kids company. The girls started giving free soup to the needy and the sick. It was a lovely sight.

Despite all that, the Doc was a lonely man inside. Mack knew this as Doc couldn’t socialize well. Doc kept up with his collecting. Doc knew the exact moment when he could fish for certain animals. Doc had to go alone as he couldn’t find anyone else to accompany him. One of his favorite drinks was beer. Deep inside, Doc was a nervous man. Along his trip, Doc considered whether to pick up hitchhikers. The doc finally agreed. The hitchhiker encouraged Doc to cut down on his alcohol intake while driving. Doc was pissed and told them to leave. Doc tried to order a beer milk shake from a café. It was just beer and milk mixed together.

Now, the Doc reached the area for catching octopus. He managed to catch 22 octopi. Suddenly, he came upon a dead girl floating in the water. His heart pounded deeply. He was in deep shock by the way the girl stared at him. A man came by to speak to him. The doc knew that he needed to call the police station immediately. He wanted the man to report the incident, while the Doc started to leave.

Many people came to see the flag-pole skater perform. One day, an old Doctor Merrivale started to shoot at him with his air-rifle. The flag-pole skater started drinking and appeared lonely in the middle of the night.

Mack and the boys were back with the captured frogs. However, the doc was away. They tried selling it to Lee but Lee didn’t want the frogs. Mack offered him a trade-off of giving groceries in exchange for frogs and that Lee could attend the party too. Lee agreed to it. Lee was a shrewd business and wanted the most value for his products before he could let them go. The boys didn’t seem to mind and they were still happy at being about to eat bacon and eggs. Their dog was named Darling. She was mischievous and difficult to control. The boys were thinking about the party to throw for Doc. They were waiting for Doc to return home. Lee seldom offered discounts at his store. Eddie started baking a cake for Doc. The boys bought party accessories and moved them to the laboratory. Many people from the neighbourhood came to join in the party. There were many mishaps that night. The floor was littered with broken glass and the entire place was in a mess. Some of the frogs got loose as well. Many of the frogs managed to escape.

The rats in the lab cages escaped too. Doc finally returned home. He realized that the rattlesnacks escaped. He was fuming inside. The doc saw Mack and punched him immediately. Blood spurted from his lips. Doc kept hitting him. Despite this, Mack didn’t retaliate. Finally after a while, the doc was calm enough to start speaking. Mack said he wouldn’t learn anything from this episode especially after being hit. He offered to pay for everything but Doc said that he and the boys didn’t need to. Doc related this episode with his fiery relationship with his wife. Mack also had a wife which ran away.

Henri was not his real name. Finally, he decided to give up painting. Henri was a superb boat builder. It took him months to build the boat but he seemed to want it that way. His galley was an amazing piece of art. He had been building his boat for 10 years. Many people loved him but couldn’t stand his weird habits. Alice left him. However, after a period of sadness, he felt free. Later, Henri had a bad dream of a man slashing his baby with a razor. Henri claimed it was real. The doc dismissed this case as a ghost sighting.

A gloom settled around the Flophouse that evening. Mack was sad as the party turned out bad. Only Darling was happy. Mack and the rest felt like social outcasts now. Everyone in town thought that they were evil and weird people. Thankfully, their friendship kept them together. Now, the boys started polishing the palace. From afar, the doc commented that the boys survived in this world better than others. They didn’t want excessive things and didn’t want to keep wanting for more. The doc bet that the boys wouldn’t turn to watch the Independence Day parade. Richard lost the bet and had to treat the doc a beer. Dora was closed for a few weeks because of changing regulations. Things were looking bad around town. It was always easy to blame yourself. Darling fell sigh too and she was skeleton skinny now. Doc was called in by the boys to examine her. Finally after much care, she recovered. The wall of evil was broken now. Mack approached Dora and wanted to make it up to Doc by asking her whether she had any suggestions. She suggested a party where the Doc was sure to attend.

For there are two possible reactions to social ostracism – either man emerges determined to be better, purer, and kindlier or he goes bad, challenges the world and does even worse things. This last is by far the commonest reaction to stigma. – John Steinbeck

It has always seemed strange to me. The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second. – The Doc

Mary Talbot was a lovely lady. She also loved parties. She was the wife of Tom Talbot. Mary enjoyed organizing house parties for friends. She had a cheery disposition and always aimed to care for her husband. To her, it was important to organize events. Their family was deep in debt. Later that year, Mary would throw a pregnancy party where everyone would have fun.

Things would need to start looking up now. Mack knew that he just needed to sleep on it and thinks might change for the better. Darling was growing up to be a good and charming dog. The whole mood was looking up. The business at Bear Flag improved. Most of the girls had recovered and could work. The boys wanted to throw the Doc a birthday party. Mack asked when his birthday was and realized that it felt on Oct 27. The doc that Mack was up to something.

The boys had to make sure that Doc would be at the party. They were planning on having it at his place. Dora’s girls were making him a blanket. Lee bought firecrackers and China lily bulbs. Sam would give Doc a rod and a piston. Another of his presents would be cats. Gay also would be attending the party. Henri prepared a giant pincushion for Doc. Doc finally knew about the party from a bartender. He felt both warm and queasy inside. Now, doc started planning for the party too. There would be many guests.

Frankie saw a nice piece of jewelry and wanted to steal it in the night. Frankie was caught by the police eventually. The police asked him why did he take it for, Frankie replied ‘I love you, Doc’.

It was his birthday and Doc made sure that the animals won’t run loose. Dora was clad in a splendid dress. The girls drank a little before heading to the party. Now, Doc was feeling a little mellow. Everyone was waiting for each other before they would show up at the party.

Parties don’t usually go the way they are planned. All the guests were treated to whisky. People arrived in droves. The girls conducted themselves properly. The doc started cooking his steaks. He was feeling much better. The doc started reciting a poem. He was reminiscing his previous love. The party was wild yet fun.

A fat gopher took up residence at the vacant lot on Cannery row. It was seemingly a perfect place to live and he was deeply satisfied. He was sad because there were no females nearby. Finally he decided to move away.

The place was in a mess when the Doc woke up the next morning. Cannery Row was quiet and sunny. Lee came to visit and they started chatting. Doc picked up his book and continued reading. After reciting, he saw the rats and the snakes escaped from their cages and were staring at him.