Cindy - Column for 8/10

Power: A Modern Mad Scientist Primer

It is of course incumbent on the Modern Mad Scientist to combat the propaganda machines that would keep them from realizing their dreams. You hear a lot of people saying the most preposterous things about Power, usually disguising their lies as "Ethical treatises", or more frequently "Saturday Morning Cartoons." So it's about time to set the record straight on a few misconceptions:

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

Where on Earth did anyone get this idea? Great power does not confer great responsibility, great power is the ABSENCE of responsibility. Have you ever wanted to kill someone just because they were annoying and useless? Of course you have! Why didn't you? Because you'd end up going to jail, or spending five years' salary keeping yourself out of jail, or because you think the reality of what you'd done would haunt you later... i.e. You Lack Power. Power is about making your whims a reality and not worrying about the consequences, because when you have enough Power consequences are someone else's problem.

Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.

These are the words of people who wish they had power, because they can think of all sorts of ways they'd like to abuse it, but since they have no power they sit around thinking of reasons why others should hobble themselves. Power does not corrupt. Power refines. It allows one to realize that those childhood dreams of becoming an architect were small minded, and rooted in a world of limited possibility. You get a little older, realize a little power, and discover that the true impulse was the desire to cleanse the Earth of the French, and to construct a new Empire on their ashes. Power may seem to corrupt you, but really it's just a natural metamorphosis from potential to realization. So if anyone ever asks you to remember back when you were younger, more idealistic, or weren't a brain in a tank telepathically ordering your minions to melt New York -- the only response should be a hearty laugh. Start with the "mwa", and go into the "hahahah". It always sounds stiff and forced at first, but it'll come more naturally with practice.

Crime Does Not Pay.

This is only true in the most limited of senses. Crime may not always pay, but that's usually just a case of poor planning. The stereotypical bank robber who spends more on henchmen and getaway vehicles than he takes in a heist. But mostly, Crime Does Not Pay only in that if something pays well enough, it is no longer considered a crime. If the Gotti family runs a protection racket and some loan sharking, it's a "crime", but when the Federal Reserve does exactly the same thing on a much larger scale, they get to write the laws themselves. The real danger of crime is that in the long-term acquisition of power, it's all too easy to get caught up in the pitiful minutiae involved in working with amateurs. Crime is a double-edged sword: it can be an important stepping stone to acquiring the resources and contacts you need to be an effective mad scientist, but ultimately you want to be the guy in the gray Nehru jacket in "Thunderball", not the pimp in the white fedora from "Miami Vice."

You can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time, and All of the People Some of the Time, but you can't Fool All of the People all of the Time.

In the absence of high-caliber mind control technology, this is technically true. But a more accurate statement is that You can Fool Enough of the People Enough of the Time. Honestly, have you seen how people react when some undaunted soul screams out to the world that there's a horrifying conspiracy afoot? They're mining gold from seawater, and using the proceeds to bribe congressmen for the plans to a weather control satellite! Oh, you haven't fooled him. But did you really need to? Walk into any bookstore. There are racks and racks of detailed descriptions of every genuinely evil scheme ever planned. But so long as they share the same shelves as "Starbeam's Guide to Healing Crystals", I wouldn't let it keep you up at night.

The Ends do Not Justify the Means.

Balderdash. The Ends Justify Themselves. Honestly, who comes up with this sort of tripe?

Columns by Cindy