Now just one hour into the second electrical power failure in two weeks (the last one lasted 22 hours and it was 19 degrees F. when it began as 23:30), I and about 2500 other customers in the Pittsburgh suburbs are preparing to prevent frozen pipes in our homes. Actually, being a born-again survivalist, I am in pretty good shape – better than most – in that I have a standby electrical generator which runs everything except the main HVAC system.
My survivalism has translated into several ways to heat my house. I have two Mitsubishi mini-split heat pumps. One supplies heat when needed to the kitchen/family room; the other, the master bedroom. They work down to outside air temperature of about 11 degrees F. Last time, I did not use those, however, as I have a wood-burning freestanding stove (requires no electricity anyway) and a ventless gas stove in the kitchen.
If I fire up both of those and keep the doors open (the doors which usually separate the “comfort zones” from the rest of the house, which I only heat to 62 degrees F.), the heat manages to keep the entire house at around that temp – 62 degrees. Near the heat sources, though, it is quite comfortable, usually above 70. As I precaution, I keep lots of seasoned firewood and have used a lot this winter. Anhedonic by nature, I do get a quiet sense of satisfaction from keeping this hearth.
Anyway, political events have, for some time, led me to characterize the US as an emerging banana republic. Infrastructure failures like this one also suggests that appellation. However, “banana republic” is tired from overuse and is factually inapposite. We don’t export bananas. So, I am looking for a ‘new and improved’ descriptive title for our republic.
Our main export is machinery and computers, including control systems likes SCADA and PLC’s. Perhaps that is our starting place. It seems apropos, given the government’s headlong rush to turn the entire populace into ventriloquists’ dummies by scripting every word and choreographing every move of everyone, everywhere, all the time. We might be a ‘puppet republic,’ or we could use the French ‘guignol‘ republic.’
Alternatively and more generally, since we export machinery, we might simply be a ‘mechanistic republic.’ This implies, nicely, the image of subject being mere cogs or wheels in a giant mechanism, fixed on axles and moving in lock-step with other cogs held firmly in their places. Maybe a combination: we are a mechanical puppet republic which nonetheless devolves regularly to failure mode in both governance and infrastructure.
Please offer any suggestions you may have as alternatives to calling our system of governance a “banana republic.”