Trump, Ockham’s Razor, Schrodinger’s Cat, and the Cat-Dog
By Sup Galeano
Once again good morning, afternoon, evening, middle-of-the-night.
Perhaps some of you [alguna, alguno, algunoa] remember that the late SupMarcos insisted that the capitalist system cannot be understood without the concept of war. Supposing, of course, that it is a concept. He would say that war was the motor that had permitted, first, the expansion of capitalism, and then its consolidation as a world system. Capitalism also turns to war to confront its recurring and profound crises.
Oh, I know, what else could be expected from a solider? But I should note, as a way of making amends, that he didn’t limit “war” to military war. Maybe a rereading of his correspondence with Don Luis Villoro Toranzo in the year 2010, which was made public in early 2011, could help us understand this. In the first of these public missives, they analyze the apparent ineffectiveness of the so-called “War on Drugs,” initiated by the war videogame lover Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. And I say “apparent ineffectiveness” because basically, looking at the results, it was and is ineffective for combatting organized crime, but it was effective at installing soldiers as the de facto government in various regions.
I bring this up because, in contrast to that deceased guy, in my understanding, capitalism could be studied as a crime.
Addressing it as such would require of us scientific knowledge of subjects which might seem distant from what are traditionally known as the “social sciences.”
In short, you can catalog this theoretical detour however you’d like. Perhaps it is the product of an unfinished correspondence course on private detection begun in that faraway time when “mail” didn’t refer to online accounts and screennames, and when an address meant the postal code and not the IP, or internet protocol; a time when one could study, also by correspondence, anything from a course on locksmithing to one on aviation piloting, including, of course, the one on “how to have a body like Charles Atlasi without going to the gym and in only a few weeks,” which wasn’t necessary for me to take given my famously beautiful and toned legs (arrrrrroz con lecheii).
In short, file me in the archive of one of whichever “isms” are available on social media, and avoid concluding that the social sciences will remain incomplete as long as they don’t include among their tools criminology, as well as, given that this relates to a crime, what we call forensic science.
But I continue speaking of a crime. A crime that is explained from various perspectives.
Let’s take a recent example: the earthquakes and the tragedies that followed.
We could ask about the conditions of the buildings. Let us suppose that there was and is a scientific study of the subsoil, calculations of the resistance of materials, and things like that. Those who have made their vocation, profession, and living from science can tell us that, that the sciences can give us the elements to avoid or at least reduce the risk of the collapse of buildings.
That is, it would be expected that in a zone of high seismic activity with a precedent for earthquakes, building construction would take this into account. In that case, it wouldn’t be such a big deal to build first and pray later because any earthquakes would be unlikely to actually topple the building.
I don’t know, but maybe the scientists can answer the key question, which isn’t “Why are there earthquakes?” but rather “Why do people die beneath the rubble of buildings that should have been constructed to resist earthquakes?”
But, according to the in-vogue analyses, it all depends.
So, as stated by that neo-philosopher of science, the “intellectually formidable” (according to the press who claimed him as their own), citizen without political party, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, we’re going to “move within a framework in which that question isn’t valid.” That is, we’re not going to ask who is responsible, by assignment or omission, for the fact that those buildings fell down and killed hundreds of people. No, what we’re going to ask is why there was an earthquake. So that’s where we’ll always be, following that organic, postmodern intellectual with another question: “Why do earthquakes occur, or tremors, or whatever it’s called when the ground abandons its apparent resignation and moves?”
Now, if you’re waiting for a scientific explanation, you wait in vain. The most valid explanations are those that have the most followers, listeners, sympathizers, and militants. Science has been losing all the popularity contests for awhile now.
So, it depends on the framework within which these explanations are given.
Let’s take one of them, the one given by Mr. Alberto Villasana, who defines himself, with exemplary modesty, as a “Catholic Theologian, Philosopher, International Analyst. Expert in Church-State relations. Author of 12 books. Three-time National Journalism Prize winner,” which his 15.6 thousand followers on Twitter will confirm with total faith.
Don’t laugh. That’s far more than the number of attendees, participants, and listeners in this gathering.
Regarding the earthquake on September 19, 2017, the illustrious and enlightened Villasana wrote: “This is without doubt the grace of God, a supernatural warning to get Mexico back on the right path, to prepare us for all that is to come…”
And how did he know that? Well, it turns out that Villasana swears that at the moment of the earthquake, he was celebrating the exorcism of a person possessed by four demons. In his article he claims, “During the exorcism, the infesting spirits declared that the September 19th earthquake was part of God’s warnings before the great punishment.” In addition to earthquakes, there would be hurricanes and volcanic eruptions and according to the theologian, these punishments would be “for having legalized abortion in the same city where the Mother of God appeared in 1531.” According to Villasana, the earthquake, by these arguments, would be a warning for Mexicans. He posted on his Twitter account the image of the rubble of the monument of the Virgin: “The “Monument to the Mother” collapsed. Significant in the city where abortion was legalized.”
Despite his indisputable wisdom, Villasana is not original. In November 2016, Italian newspapers noted that the priest Giovanni Cavalcoli, known for his career as a theologian, made the following declarations on Sunday, October 30, the same day that a 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook the central region of Umbria: the seismic shakes are a “divine punishment for the offense to the family and the dignity of marriage, the fault, above all, of homosexual civil unions.”
The framework on which this explanation depends has more followers:
Just a few weeks ago, this December of 2017, the Cardinal Emeritus Juan Sandoval Íñiguez blamed women and others [loas otroas] for the violence of organized crime and the earthquakes and floods.
As a platform for such a scientific explanation, Sandoval Íñiguez called for a so-called “Great Act of Atonement” which, as far as I understood, is like an “Un-Conscience for Deity”iii gathering, but with more draw than the gathering we’re in right now. The event was in the Estadio Azul [stadium], in Mexico City, which, by the way, is a much better location than CIDECI.
To be consistent, there were also masked people there. But, as opposed to those who called us here, who dedicate themselves to speaking ill of capitalism, those wearing masks at Sandoval Íñiguez’s gathering self-flagellated until they bled. And these are real lashes, not the existential kind that pile up on social media.
Between lashes, but being careful not to get spritzed by any blood, the Cardinal Emeritus declared that the right to choose [abortion] and sexual diversity are sins, and that the violence of the drug trade and the earthquakes are punishments for those sins: “Our Lord and God, before the coming of a greater punishment you send us temporary punishments or parental corrections by means of nature, which is your creation and is governed by your providence. Could two September 19th [earthquakes] in this city possibly be pure coincidence?”
The “Great Act of Atonement” event was convened by a kind of association that could very well call itself “The time has come for the sinners [loas pecadoroas] to go,” that is, those who support the Indigenous Governing Council and its spokeswoman.
I read somewhere that, among those in attendance were so-called “public figures” such as Esteben Arce, Manuel Capetillo, and Alejandra Rojas. I don’t know how public these people are, I only know that Esteban Arceiv must be cursed often among the community of others [otroas].
In the act, which we know now was not in order to exorcize the soccer team whose home base is that stadium (oh well, “Cruz Azul’sv best days are always long gone”), the neo-scientist Sandoval Íñiguez declaimed: “This is an act of atonement where we came to make a confession of guilt, to recognize our sins before the Lord and beg him for mercy and forgiveness. We come to say: Lord, we have sinned against you and committed the evil you abhor; forgive your people and put aside the punishment we deserve. We have sinned against you, above all with the most tremendous, serious and cruel of crimes: that of abortion practiced far and wide throughout our homeland, sometimes with the permission of unrighteous laws and sometimes secretly, furtively, but always with cruelty, malice and advantage against the innocent, the defenseless.”
According to press reports, very close to where the “Brotherhoods of Flagellant and Cross-Bearing Penitents of Taxco” (as they call themselves) were whipping themselves, signatures were being collected to support the ex-PAN member Margarita Zavala in her project to become an independent presidential candidate.
Against the grain and in a different framework, Pope Francis claimed regarding the recent natural disasters: “I think that the Devil is punishing Mexico with a lot of anger because the Devil does not forgive Mexico for her (showing a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe) having revealed her son there. That’s my interpretation. I mean, Mexico is privileged in martyrdom for having recognized and defended its mother.”
So there you have it: divine punishment or diabolical punishment. Choose your explanatory framework for reality.
“They’re just opinions,” you, or the social media influencers closest to your bandwidth, will say.
Okay, okay, okay. But the problem is that decisions are made based on these opinions: there are those who ask for divine forgiveness or embrace pain as privileged martyrdom… And there are those who organize to demand truth and justice.
I’m not going to make firewood out of the heavy cross borne by señora Margarita Ester Zavala Gómez del Campo de Calderón (whom, disrespectfully and far from all political correctness, the Zapatistas call “la Calderona,” reason for which I—having always stood out for my good manners and political correctness—distance myself).
And to clarify, I point out that it’s “Gómez del Campo,” to remind you of the murder of the children in the ABC Daycare, which occurred on June 5, 2009 in the state of Sonora and which was managed by, among other people, Marcia Matilde Altagracia Gómez del Campo Tonella, exonerated because she was a relative of la Calderona. The memory of this crime will not be extinguished, thanks to the fact that the families continue demanding truth and justice.
And I call her “de Calderón,” because to refer to her by her maiden name would be to indicate that she lives in common-law marriage with the psychopath. And, according to my limited understanding of canonical law, cohabitation outside of marriage is a sin. Ergo, this would bring us more earthquakes through the fault of those who sign in support of her candidacy.
Instead, I’ll make brief reference to the principal saboteur of her political career (her concubine, if we pay attention to those enraged by calling her what is her rightful last name according to Catholic, apostolic and Roman laws): Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.
Mr. Calderón Hinojosa was, ten years ago, holder of the federal executive power in Mexico. I think they called him “President.” Well, ten years ago, on the occasion of the floods that ravaged the state of Tabasco, the then-supreme commander of the army, air force, and marines declared that those responsible for the fact that more than 125,000 people had lost their homes and had to take refuge in shelters were…the moon and a cold front.
The National Action Party (PAN) competes with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) not only for the ridicule that befalls their pre-candidates; no, the National Action Party, now with the burden called Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), also disputes the PRI for complicity in the crime.
You may note a demented twinkle in the gaze of Ricardo Anaya, pre-candidate of the PAN-PRD-MC. Don’t attribute it to a possible affectation in the region of the brain responsible for decency (if, of course, there is one). It’s the product of political party leadership training. Ricardo Anaya is part of that generation of party leaders who grew up as such in the midst of corruption, cynicism, betrayal, bigotry, intolerance, arrogance, nepotism, ignorance, cretinism…ok, I think I’m describing more than one pre-candidate, but now I’m referring to what the PAN, PRD and MC alliance calls “At the lead, For Mexico”… and, well, there’s an abyss ahead. So there you have it.
Along with Acteal and Ayotzinapa, another name refers us to an unpunished crime: the ABC Daycare, in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.
And in the six-year term of that consistent thinker named Vicente Fox, the PRI, PAN, and PRD allied themselves in the crime called “Atenco” in May 2006, which included, in addition to murder, sexual assault against women.
As such, this all seems to indicate that the great voter, who certainly doesn’t need the National Electoral Institute, demands proof of criminality to make up their mind. On their altar, these political party proposals offer the blood of women, children, youth, elders…and others [otroas].
And to confirm, political proposals from the most rancid right reach the various public offices reserved for paid hitmen that the world political system periodically offers.
Although there are examples in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Spanish State, Israel, Honduras, Nicaragua, Russia, and whatever other geography suits your fancy, there’s one that encapsulates the fateful times to come: Ronaldo Trump.
In addition to his undeniable skill and wisdom in running his Twitter account, Ronaldo Trump has defined with diaphanous clarity the victim to sacrifice: women, others [otroas], children, migrants, the environment, and I could keep detailing the specifics but in the end you’ll reach the same conclusion that I have: the victim is the entire planet, including the humanity that inhabits it.
Although Ronaldo has shown signs of serious mental problems, he’s solved the basic equation that all rulers must confront: What must I do to remain in Power? Ockham has been useful for him, and he’s opted for the simplest answer: a war.
To achieve a war, he proposes walls, embassy changes; he provokes diplomatic incidents and then pleads, implores: “Give me a war! I demand it of you. Wherever, it doesn’t matter. And the bigger, the better.” And thus, going back many centuries, Ronaldo Trump takes Nero’s lyre and sings: “We don’t want to fight, but we’ll do it out of pure Jingoism, we have the boats, we have the men, we have the money.”
Yes, it is a war. Or a crime—it depends.
War or crime, a disgrace like never before in the history of humanity.
As if the world as we know it were collapsing.
And since we’ve already made reference to videogames, let’s imagine that we have the dream of any gaming addict: a cybernetic interface that allows us to have a strategic, tactical, and first-person perspective all at the same time. Something like a combination of real-time strategy, role playing, first person shooter, and the other, I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s like third person. Basically, if this is created one day, don’t forget to share the intellectual property rights.
Now, imagine that you are holed up in an ideal spherical room. The internal surface of the sphere, which you can see, is a large curved screen, with 5K technology, OMLED, or whatever it’s called and on which, simultaneously and with vertiginous velocity, informational packets are presented. Not just images, but also sounds, smells, tactile and taste sensations. And well, also, and so as not to discriminate against the esoteric folks, extrasensory perceptions.
You might think, with a high degree of certainty, that you’re in the real world; so you live in this world, you’re born there, you grow there, reproduce there, and, God forbid but it’s a hypothetical situation, you die there.
You’re happy or unhappy there. The machine is so effective that it even provides you with the parameters to define happiness and unhappiness. What’s more, it also offers you an explanation of this world and, if it’s your preference, of a spiritual world, a consolation for the day when (did I already say god forbid?) you die.
So you’re there, in the machine that we’ll call, with prudent entrepreneurial calculation, “the Cat-Dog Machine” (all rights reserved).
So there you are, simulating that you’re alive or living (because the machine also gives you the criteria to distinguish between “the real” of the machine” and “the virtual” that the same machine produces to give you a reference point).
So, let’s suppose that in some temporality of the machine, you’re doing whatever it is that you do. And in there, from who knows where, a person appears who has nothing to do with anything. You of course are a modern person, understanding of technological limitations, and you attribute this emergence to an irregularity in the machine’s complicated software or complex hardware. You wait patiently for the irregularity to be resolved, that is, you look for the “reset” button, but the person remains there and when you’re least expecting it, this person says to you:
“One moment, nobody touch anything, nobody leave. This is a crime scene.”
You’re doubtful. You don’t know whether to complain to Technical Support or put a bag of popcorn in the microwave. I mean maybe this is a new episode of “Law and Order, Special Victims Unit” (cue background music).
But something doesn’t fit, because it’s not the female detective who appears, but another woman. Yes, the machine has given you the pattern that indicates: “woman”. But this woman is wearing an embroidered blouse, her stature is less than the average that the machine itself has determined as “average stature,” her complexion is dark, let’s say the color of the earth. The machine gives you the information it has: “indigenous, also self-defined as ‘originary’; geographic location in the North American region called Mexico; null or minimum level of formal schooling; access to technological advances between 0 and 0.1; monolingual although there are cases in which she manages two or more languages; mortality rate, much higher than average; life expectancy, well below average; cultural persistence, centuries; therefore, indefinite age.”
With this information, you start drafting your complaint to Technical Support, while stuffing yourself with popcorn of course because you’re not about to waste the Valentina sauce that covers them:
“Dear programmers, I beg you to resolve this flaw. Because it’s not possible for one [uno, una, unoa] to be here fulfilling to the letter of the law the functions that have been assigned to me, when all of a sudden something so pre-modern appears. Hurry up because the new season of ‘To the right, the best of all possible worlds,’ is about to start and the promos are already happening. Signature”
The feminine interruption in question has the poor taste to change the fashionable joke, “I come from the future and…[followed by something clever]” (oh don’t worry, the machine also says what is and is not “clever”) because the, shall we say, originary woman now says: “I come from the past and this movie isn’t a movie and I already saw it.” Then you realize that the woman is not alone.There are others that resemble her, although now that they force you to look at them, you see that they’re the same but different. There are also men. And there is no shortage of those who are neither one nor the other.
With no respect for the programming, these strange, anachronistic, and—it’s no stretch to say—irreverent beings, start to sniff around and one of them has even taken out, who knows from where, a magnifying glass. You’re about to applaud, because you think that the machine has been updated and can now produce a virtual reality within a virtual reality, but the woman whom the machine now labels “indigenous” without any nuance, studies you extensively. You’re of course right to feel uncomfortable when, after putting the magnifying glass to her eye, she proclaims: “Another victim, to be noted by the team taking minutes.”
“Yes, they have a team for that, which suggests some kind of uncatalogued organizational form,” the machine tells you, partly to make itself useful and also partly to give itself time to self-review its programming.
The group of indigenous people who, you now realize, are a minority but make noise as if they were a majority, gather together to deliberate and, after a time that the machine can’t quantify or offer a parameter for comparison, decree:
“It’s all here: the victim, the murderer, the murder weapon, and the scene of the crime.”
Then you realize that the spherical screen looks more like a concave wall, and you see, not without alarm, a little girl, accompanied by a strange being which the machine is incapable of labeling and settles on “cat-dog: mythological being of unknown origin; there are no data which confirm its actual, I mean virtual, existence, that is, you understand me, right? Yes well, it depends; probable habitat: mountains of the Mexican southeast.” See: “Habrá una vez,”vi editions in Spanish, Italian, English, Greek, German, Portuguese, etc.
What alarms you is that the little girl and the thus-catalogued “cat-dog” are signaling a crack in the machine, that is, in the sphere; that is, in the wall.
Now you’re in doubt—something that the machine has always managed to avoid until now—vacillating between going to review the warranty rules or running to peek through the crack.
Because it turns out that the crack, its possibility, questions not only the programming of the machine, but its very existence.
Then you feel like a prisoner in the same paradox as that of Schrodinger’s Cat.
The machine quickly links you to Wikipedia, and there you read:
“Erwin Schrödinger proposed a system that is formed by a closed, opaque box containing a cat, a bottle of poisonous gas, and a device which contains a single radioactive particle with a 50% probability of disintegrating in a given time so that if the particle disintegrates, the poison is released and the cat dies. At the end of the set time, the probability that the device has been activated and the cat is dead is 50%, and the probability that the device has not been activated and the cat is alive has the same value.”
Of course, you’re no longer following the parts about quantum mechanics, because you’re feeling a vague trembling throughout your body.
“Terror,” says the machine, in order to help you to identify this sensation. Because the machine had already labeled this sensory perception but it had always, at least until now, appeared as something distant; terror had always corresponded to somebody else.
All the evidence, everything solid that gave you certainty, values, reasoning, and judgment begin to fade away.
You don’t know if you’re dead or alive; there’s a 50% probability of one or the other, and you shudder, not because you’re on the verge of figuring out your existential state but because of the question posed by the wall, the one that, as they say, pulls the rug out from under you:
“Is another world possible?”
“It is,” responds the little girl who is now carrying a ball under her arm and, on her head, something that could be a cat…or a dog.
You of course are a person with knowledge who self-applies “Ockham’s Razor,” interpreted as: the simplest explanation is probably the most correct. So you tell yourself [a sí mismo, misma, mismoa]: “I’m dreaming.”
While you decide whether you’re in a dream or a nightmare, what do you do? Do you go up to and peek through the crack or keep doing what you were doing when the irreverent and rebellious commotion appeared?
As for that, what was originally a group of indigenous people is now a much broader collective: there are people of all colors, there’s someone gripping a hammer with a complicit smile as they turn to the wall where, oh, oh, it seems they want to expand the crack.
And there’s someone over there dancing, and someone painting, and someone imagining a frame for the shot, and someone writing hastily, and further away they’re singing, and there’s someone weighing a microscope to see whether to throw it at the spherical wall or whether a scalpel is better, for something should be done to the crack.
And wait, where did that marimba come from?
And now they’re playing soccer, and the little girl who, to avoid having to give explanations, has put on a badge that reads “Defensa Zapatista,” asks you what your name is, and you then understand that she’s not asking you your name-name, but rather your position on a supposed team that hasn’t yet been completed.
And you feel that the terror has already taken over your whole being, because you’ve intuited that the little girl is really asking you:
“And what about you?”
From CIDECI-UniTierra, Chiapas.
Mexico, December 2017.
From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog: The Mysterious Case of the Missing Honey Buns
Elías Contreras is a Zapatista compañero whose work is to serve as the Investigation Commission—that is, he’s a detective. He’s like a lookout. Elías Contreras is deceased, just like SupMarcos, and they worked together in the search for bad and evil. Elías now works with SupMoy sometimes, although every once in a while he talks to SupGaleano.
This brief summary should help you understand what happened one afternoon this December at the General Command of the EZLN, where Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés called in the famous Elías Contreras.
“Elías,” said SupMoy after responding to the Investigation Commission Detective’s military greeting, “there’s a problem.”
Elías Contreras didn’t say anything, he just took out rolling papers and some strands of tobacco, and set about making a cigarette while he listened to SupMoy:
“It’s in the regional cooperative store. They say they’re missing some products, that they disappeared. They asked if anyone could help out. Can you take care of it?”
Elías Contreras simply let out a sound like “mmh,” and left without saying a word.
The store manager just barely greeted Elías with a gesture, he was doing the monthly accounting.
“So what is it that disappeared?” asked Elías while he distractedly eyed the DVDs that were for sale, the majority of which had the stamp of “Los Tercios Compas.”
“The honey buns,” said the manager, without taking his eyes off the notebook where he was suffering through the bookkeeping.
“And how do you know they’re missing?” asked Elías, while looking over the shelf.
“Because nobody buys those, they were always there, for no good reason.”
“And it nobody buys them, what’s the problem?”
“The vigilance commission,” sighed the manager in resignation. “The bookkeeping has to be exact; if not, we have to repay it or there’s punishment.”
Elías Contreras gave a snort and leaned over to pick up a few strands of black tobacco at the foot of the counter.
“Sup,” he said when he was back at the door of SupGaleano’s shack.
“Elías,” responded the Sup without taking his eyes off a screen connected to an old laptop computer.
“Laptop’s screwed,” the Sup said to clarify. “The screen broke, but the processor and the rest are fine, so I connected it to this monitor. I was just able to adapt the keyboard, but I can’t find the mouse.”
He turned his wheelchair around and looked at Elías.
“The honey buns,” said the Investigation Commission Detective.
“There aren’t anymore,” said the Sup, “Defensa Zapatista and her dog…or cat…or whatever it is…they ate them.”
“But I have some cornbread that the insurgentes made. How do I know that the insurgentes made it? Well, because it rose properly; when the insurgentas make it it stays flat.”
Elías rolled a cigarette and passed the Sup the matches for his pipe.
“And so?” asked SupGaleano after waiting for Elías Contreras to light his cigarette.
“Well now they’re going to make you do the bookkeeping for the store… Of course, in addition to repaying what was taken. But I didn’t come here for that. There’s a thought I want to discuss with you…”
Some hours later, Elías Contreras, Investigation Commission Detective for the EZLN, left SupGaleano’s shack and stopped for a moment to watch the afternoon become the shadows of the night.
With his flashlight he illuminated the path up to the General Command of the eezeeelen. At the door, without entering, he saluted and said: “El Sup, some honey buns.”
SupMoy smiled and said to himself: “Well, someone had to balance those books.”
In the General Assembly it didn’t go so badly for SupGaleano, but it also didn’t go so well. After “self-criticizing” him for eating fast food and not feeding himself well (they told him that the shortbread they make in the CIDECI bakery is much better), the authorities gave him the worst punishment that currently exists in that community: doing the accounting for the cooperatives.
The Sup lit his pipe as he exited the assembly and, while heading toward the cooperative named, “As the women that we are,” said to himself: “well, it could have been worse, in other times they would have made me clear the pasture.”
He did the accounting quickly, not because he knew how to do math, but because he did it with the cell phone he “borrowed” from the General Command headquarters when SupMoy had called him in to scold him. It wasn’t even such a great cell phone, it was one of those “low range” ones that wasn’t able to capture the signatures that the first-world National Electoral Institute imposed as requirements on hopeful candidates from the third world—but the calculator was fine for addition and subtraction.
He found Elías at the foot of the Ceiba tree, just as they had agreed.
The smell of both of their tobaccos intermingled in the silence. A dialogue between dead men; a deaf-mute dialogue.
Neither of them remembers who asked: “How much time?” but they know that both responded in unison: “little, very little.”