Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

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No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail

John Gall (1975; rpt. 1978)

 

When a system is set up to accomplish some goal, a new entity has come into being—the system itself. No matter what the "goal" of the system, it immediately begins to exhibit system behavior; that is, to act according to the general laws that govern the operation of all systems. Now the system itself has to be dealt with. Whereas before, there was only the problem—such as warfare between nations, or garbage collection—there is now an additional universe of problems associated with the functioning or merely the presence of the new system. (29)

LARGE SYSTEMS USUALLY OPERATE IN FAILURE MODE. (30)

THE SYSTEM TENDS TO OPPOSE ITS OWN PROPER FUNCTION. (30)

Systems are like babies: once you get one, you have it. They don't go away. On the contrary, they display the most remarkable persistence. They not only persist; they grow. And as they grow, they encroach. (33)

The system of government, at its basis a system for protecting the people, encroached upon them until it became their worst oppressor. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service not only collect our taxes, they also make us compute the tax for them, an activity that exacts an incalculable cost in sweat, tears, and agony and takes years off our lives as we groan over their complicated forms. (35)

Just what is the characteristic feature of things not working out? To ask the question is to see the answer, almost immediately. It is the element of paradox to which we have already alluded. Things not only don't work out well, they work out in strange, even paradoxical, ways. Our plans not only go awry, they produce results we never expected. Indeed they often produce the opposite result from the one intended. (37-8)

Item: The Aswan Dam, built at enormous expense to improve the lot of the Egyptian peasant, has caused the Nile to deposit its fertilizing sediment in Lake Nasser, where it is unavailable. Egyptian fields must now be artificially fertilized. Gigantic fertilizer plants have been built to meet the new need. The plants require enormous amounts of electricity. The dam must operate at capacity merely to supply the increased need for electricity which was created by the building of the dam. (38)

Item: The largest building in the world, the space vehicle preparation shed at Cape Kennedy, generates its own weather, including clouds and rain. Designed to protect space rockets from the elements, it pelts them with storms of its own. (42)

We formalize these observations in the Non-Additivity Theorem of Systems-behavior, alternatively known as the Climax Design Theorem:
A Large System, Produced By Expanding The Dimensions Of A Smaller System, Does Not Behave Like The Smaller System. (45)

But first, following our rule of placing the most fundamental Axioms at the beginning, we present the Fundamental Law of Administrative Workings (F.L.A.W.):
Things Are What They Are Reported To Be.
This Axiom has been stated in various ways, all to the same effect. Standard formulations include the following:
The Real World Is What Is Reported To The System (65)

The net effect of this Law is to ensure that people in systems are never dealing with the real world that the rest of us have to live in but with a filtered, distorted, and censored version which is all that can get past the sensory organs of the system itself. (66)

As we all know, sensory deprivation tends to produce hallucinations. Similarly, immersion in a system tends to produce an altered mental state that results in various bizarre malfunctions, recognizable to us but not to the people in the system. (70)

1. Functionary's Pride.
This disorder was already ancient when it was definitively characterized by W. Shakespeare as "the insolence of office." A kind of mania of self-esteem induced by titles and the illusion of power, it is so well known as to need no further description. (71)

2. Hireling's Hypnosis.
A trance-like state, a suspension of normal mental activity; induced by membership within a system.
Example. A large private medical clinic and hospital installed a computerized billing system. One day the system printed out a bill for exactly $111.11 for every one of the more than 50,000 persons who had attended the clinic during the preceding year. For the next several days the switchboard was jammed with calls from irate recipients of the erroneous bills. Emergency calls could not get through. Nearly ten thousand former patients took their business elsewhere, for a total loss to the clinic of almost a million dollars.
The person operating the computer system that day, as well as the office clerks, the programmer, and twelve employees hired to stuff, seal, and stamp envelopes—all had observed the striking identity of numbers on the bills but had done nothing to stop the error. The system had hypnotized them. (71-2)

Manager's Mirage.
The belief that some event (usually called an "outcome") was actually caused by the operation of the System. For example: The Public School System is believed by some to be responsible for the literary works of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Arthur Miller, since it taught them to write. (73-4)

Systems attract not only Systems-people who have attributes for success within the system. They also attract individuals who possess specialized attributes adapted to allow them to thrive at the expense of the system, i.e., persons who parasitize them. As the barnacle attaches to the whale, these persons attach themselves to systems, getting a free ride and a free lunch as long as the system survives. (75)

But, however difficult it may be to know what a system is doing, or even whether it is doing anything, we can still be sure of the validity of the Newtonian Law of Inertia as applied to systems:
A System That Performs A Certain Function Or Operates In A Certain Way Will Continue To Operate In That Way Regardless Of The Need Or Of Changed Conditions.
In accordance with this principle, the Selective Service System continued to register young men for the draft, long after the draft had ended.
When a System continues to do its own thing, regardless of circumstances, we may be sure that it is acting in pursuit of inner goals. This observation leads us, by a natural extension, to the insight that:
Systems Develop Goals of Their Own The Instant They Come Into Being.
Furthermore, it seems axiomatically clear that:
Intrasystem Goals Come First. (86-8)

Once a problem is recognized as a Problem, it undergoes a subtle metamorphosis. Experts in the "Problem" area proceed to elaborate its complexity. They design systems to attack it. This approach guarantees failure, at least for all but the most pedestrian tasks. A system that is sufficiently large, complex, and ambitious can reduce output far below "random" levels. Thus, a federal Program to conquer cancer may tie up all the competent researchers in the field, leaving the problem to be solved by someone else, typically a graduate student from the University of Tasmania doing a little recreational entomology on his vacation. Solutions usually come from people who see in the problem only an interesting puzzle, and whose qualifications would never satisfy a select committee. (107-8)

Government Systems, acting in accordance with the Laws of Growth, tend to Expand and Encroach. In encroaching upon their own citizens, they produce Tyranny, and in encroaching on other Government systems, they engage in Warfare. If one could correctly identify the Intrinsic Difficulty with the Government System, one might be able to curb or neutralize those two tendencies, to the benefit of the Mankind System.
What is the Intrinsic Difficulty with the Government System? Previous reformers, identifying the core problem as the concentration of power in a few hands, have attempted to improve things by diffusing that power. This works temporarily, but gradually (Systems Law of Gravity) the power becomes concentrated again.
A breakaway group of General Systemanticists, starting from the principle that it is very difficult to unscramble eggs, have proposed that the core problem is not the concentration of power but the concentration of the governed in one place, where the government can get at them. They have proposed, not the diffusion of power, but the diffusion of the targets of power—the citizens themselves.
They would achieve this by providing citizens with two new freedoms, in addition to the traditional Four Freedoms. These two new freedoms, appropriately designated as the Fifth and Sixth Freedoms, are:
(5) Free Choice of Territory (Distributional Freedom).
(6) Free Choice of Government (Principle of Hegemonic Indeterminacy)
Under Free Choice of Territory, a citizen of any country is free to live in any part of the world he chooses. He remains a citizen of the government he prefers, to which he pays taxes and for whose officers he votes. However, as the term Free Choice of Government implies, he may at any time change his citizenship and his allegiance from his present government to another government that offers more attractive tax rates, more interesting public officials, or simply an invigorating change of pace.
With these two new Freedoms in effect, one would expect that after a short period of equilibration, citizens of any nation would be distributed amongst the citizens of all other nations—not necessarily at random, but sufficiently so for our purpose, which is to remove them effectively from the grip of their own government. A government can hardly put any large number of its own citizens in jail if it has to send halfway around the world for them, one by one, and persuade other governments of the justice of the proceedings. Raising armies would become administratively impossible. Furthermore, wars of one government against another would become impractical, since large numbers of the enemy would be distributed all over the world, including the territory of the home government.
The net result of the two new Freedoms would be to break up the Concentration of the Governed, to divide and distribute them throughout other governments, a principle which we shall call the Comminution of Hegemony. If practiced on a world-wide scale it could lead to revolutionary changes in the relationship of citizens to their governments, reversing the traditional polarity and making governments fearfully dependent upon the favor or even the whims of their citizenry rather than vice versa. In keeping with the revolutionary aspects of this proposal, we hereby broach the solemn question:
World Comminution: Threat Or Promise? (117-19)

4. Explain:
(a) why no major organization ever voluntarily disbanded itself;
(b) why major doctrinal advances are rarely made by the chief officer of a religion, philosophy, or political party;
(c) why company presidents rarely if ever introduce a major change in the function or product of the company. (138)

First Honorable Mention
The judges were unanimous in awarding First Honorable Mention jointly to the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Environmental Protection Service for their Operation Preparedness, a proposal to study the effects of an oil spill upon the ecology of Lake Saint Clair (above Lake Erie) by actually dumping five hundred gallons of jet fuel into the lake. (Advanced students should find at least three applicable Axioms.) (142)


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