social media, Technology, Uncategorized

Fooling all the people all the time

I’m old. Lets just get that out there right now. I grew up watching Watergate unfold, and each morning brought a new bit of news about the plumbers, the tapes and the cover-up. If nothing else, that experience taught me, in addition to a deep skepticism of the governments ability to function for the common good, to follow the money. Basically, the main motivation in most situations is profit, so to get to the bottom of things, follow the money. So when we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic and  it seems as if many have taken the blue pill, barricading ourselves in our homes, freely accepting the closing of our economy, the destruction of many or our livelihoods, even shunning social and physical contact from one another and believing that a bandanna or simple mask will keep us all safe- not even considering ulterior motives. No please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying here that there is no virus or that it isn’t a matter of concern However, when did we jettison common sense and belief in our own thought process and drink the “government knows all” Kool-aid. There is only one way to survive this and there is no other option or possibility.

Where was and how well served was the trust in government for those sitting on their roofs in the lower 9th ward as Katrina’s water came higher and higher. What about the children in the back seat of the car whose parents have passed out from opiate abuse of prescribed  drugs that our government seemed helpless to stop. Perhaps we can “Just Say No” to Covid like Ron and Nancy Reagan’s response to illegal drugs- remember how well that worked out (not unlike the response to the AIDS crisis but one can go on and on.)

Perhaps the real question is when did we decide it was ok to just suck on the government teat (well, they do give us money after shutting down the economy and our livelihood and a few more sips couldn’t hurt…) or more to the point, have we become so drunk from the fire-hose of 24 hour media that we have lost any sense to think for ourselves.  We blindly accept what ever is fed us and gladly wait for the next post to send us into apoplexy. While you may read this and say “oh no, not me..” just wait till we are all told the only thing that will save us is wearing tinfoil hats and see how fast you fall in line.

covid-19,Trump

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social media, Technology, Uncategorized

Slouching toward Quietus

High school was when I first heard the term Domesday-book- and of course we quickly changed the title to Doomsday book and instead of being a record of survey of William the Conqueror’s holdings in England, it became the foretelling of oblivion- like the book of Revelations, (A prophecy, not a foretelling of doom- indeed the word  Apocalypse means a revelation or unveiling- the end of the world was added later) and it seems this need for despair has become a necessary transition for all great bodies of surveying. As the Domesday book became the dooms day book- so to the internet has gone from being a place of accumulated knowledge to a spreader of doom. This is noted in the recent article in Wired, “Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health” while we can use internet to find the worlds wonder, information and connect to one another, we seem to be dedicated to only seeing the worst of things, passing joy on our way to despair or as Joan Didion wrote “Slouching toward quietus“.  We start our day with the worlds despair from the night before, and news amalgamators are pleased to oblige with the If it bleeds, it leads, point of view. Really, what is so important that we need minute to minute coverage. When I cant find my glasses or don’t know how to cover next months electric bill, I seldom find the neighbors in rapt attention (even if I were to make them aware of the situation) needing moment to moment updates. Perhaps putting things on the screen is the same as putting them on a pedestal. They become important and necessary while our own lives go on as drab and unexciting. Yet what makes their situation so different than ours? As Oscar Wilde once said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”, perhaps now more than ever we need our eyes to the light.

Covid19, Covid, Trump, Biden,Media

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Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words

In this pre-post covid world, I find myself thinking of Eliza Doolittle. If you remember her, you would know her from Shaw’s Pygmalion or from the musical version, “My Fair Lady”.  But unlike Eliza, who implores the listener, don’t talk about things, show me! I seem to be pondering the change of meaning of life. Not in its largest sense but in the verbal sense and seems to have moved from a noun to a verb. In the past something that we participated in, a verb, implied action. However,  today, life seems to have been transformed into a noun, while not a person or place but truly a thing that one can watch. We seem all to have become Chauncey Gardiner, or Chance the Gardner if you prefer, finding it easier to watch than participate. “How dreadful about that black man dying with a police mans knee on his neck. Have you seen it?” Why go protest in the streets, one could die without the benefit of having it filmed for Tic Tok or Instagram. What better way to be safe now- why risk physical or mental injury actually participating in life when one can simply observe it behind glass and mask? So perhaps to this we have come, our lives are no longer what we do but an accumulation of what we can watch others do. Hopefully, I am not alone in hoping that the day will come when life returns to being a verb and our epithet will not be “I like to watch”

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internet, social media, Technology, Uncategorized

The Internet is Stupid

At first I was offended. An artist friend of mine had started doing a series of sketches called, “is Stupid” which was a loose sketch of one of his friends with their name written out followed by the words- is stupid. As he was a recognized artist, I had hoped that a small bit of immortality might be obtained through being portrayed in his work, alas, that was not to be so. However, while the internet was not immortalized by his work, it never the less, is stupid.

When we educate children we teach them at best to think for themselves, to find answers but more than that to value the question. To look at a situation and find ways for themselves to solve it, to overcome the obstacle and to solve it at least and at best in a graceful and beautiful manner. That is knowledge. Answers are a the doorway to a closet while a true answer presents more questions and greater growth. The simple act of questioning invites growth, makes us look at things differently and see things that are not yet there. The internet is a great tool but unfortunately it can only bring us answers, what already is. It will only bring us fish when what we are need now, more than ever, are more people figuring out how to fish.

Internet,covid 19

 

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Our Greatest Weakness, Our Greatest Strength.

While on my morning walk, usually about 5.30 or so, I am privy to seeing many peoples televisions broadcasting the news through their living room windows. Lately, I have seen a parade of images of people wearing masks for the corona virus and this morning it reminded me of the images of the plague masks used during the Bubonic plague. These masks have a bird mask with a bird-like beak to protect them from being infected by deadly diseases such as the  which they believed was airborne. Not unlike our current situation, it was believed that these masks could protect the wearer from harm. Later, they became transformed into a part of the Venetian carnival masks, the celebration before Lenten frugality. This thought brings me hope that in this time of challenge, we might draw strength from challenges before us. That the masks we now wear for protection might become a sign of strength, like the pink triangle, the yellow star of David or the cross.

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Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

There are those of us who might remember the Nixon administration, waking up every morning to see what the Washington Post had brought to our doorstep, be it the latest utterance of Deep Throat,  news of the plumbers, CREEP, or the details of Saturday Night Massacre . Those of us grew up in a time that distrusted the government and saw the press as a lionizing force for justice and good. Now more that 50 years later, it seems that the pendulum may have swung. 

In this age of multiple media outlets, we have to wonder who really has our best interests at heart. The heirloom media seems to be struggling for its former glory posing as our knight in shining armor saving us from heartless politicians, dastardly corporations and evil doers of all persuasions- the intrepid reporter saving the day be it Erin Brockovich or the reporters on Boston Globe uncovering pedophilia in the priesthood. Now it seems that media is more content to piss on our leg and tell us that its raining. We could hardly be concerned when the corona virus was rampant in China as we were being force fed the spectacle of an impeachment in Washington with relentless urgency. Then when it appeared Bernie Sanders could actually be the front runner in the Democratic primary, we were lead to  buffets of the evils of socialism and how everything we held dear would be consumed by this plan. Following hot on the heels of the redemption by Status Quo Joe, we were told how the corona virus would destroy our world and we had to sequester ourselves as our only hope of salvation. If it bleeds it leads, and an apocalypses must be a ratings bonanza. Now our media is falling over itself to walk the line between Armageddon and a happy ending trying to keep us glued to our screens for ratings. Even the New York Times has joined the cautious chorus of people suggesting that we may have over reacted to this threat. It seems odd that, as I write, in the state of Florida there are currently 6 fatalities from the corona virus and yet a discontented student could walk into a school and kill the same number of people only to be met with transient hand wringing and wailing. Thank heavens we have this slow moving exploitable situation for our media to keep us in a waking terror of other people. How else to keep us home glued to our screens watching what once was our lives.

corona virus,hoax, coronavirushoax

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The Perfect Consumer

It has been with measured alarm we watched the stock market fall in reaction to the corona virus and hearing the talking heads wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at the effect the virus had in business, China and its long term effect on the supply chain. It seems that as the effects go ripping through the value of the stock market, that some economists are slow in learning the lessons that that this pandemic provides. At this writing it seems that the main victims of the virus, at least in China, are the elderly and the infirm. While this does have social implications, one can not ignore the economic consequences. Consider the loss of the elderly population in the United States, and the possible savings with the decrease of the aging economy- the amount in savings on social spending for this population could help decrease the federal debt as well as freeing up necessary housing for younger people with a greater work, and therefore tax paying life ahead of them. Also think of the jobs created with burying all the dead. In fact if we really wanted to ensure our economic stability, we should do away with leaving the dependency of economic success in the hands of mere mortals. Indeed, we should create consumer machines to take the job of consuming out of the hands of inconsistent people so that corporations could not only create products, they could create and program the robots that use them. A perfect closed loop in the ever upward spiral, unsullied by a messy and unpredictable consumer.

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Mining for Gold

While driving to work the other morning and listening to Strauss Marches, I was reminded of a conversation with Richard Pearlman, a well know opera director, we were discussed an operetta I was singing at the time. I remember him saying, this is a subtle aria, you need to dig deep and mine for each small emotional change and make the most of each of these moments. With a world of information at our fingertips, perhaps like singing that operetta aria, we need to be like miners. We have a whole world of information at our fingertips and yet we are happy to feast on the low hanging fruit. We are willing to believe what ever we read and not be bothered with digging a bit deeper into the story, the claim or even the photograph. We gnash our teeth in outrage when we think that some foreign power might  be influencing our elections and yet we are reticent to take on the responsibility to investigate these claims. We claim to want gold but are unwilling to dig beneath the surface seeming happy with our treasure trove of fools gold. As we have said before, media is plural but truth is singular. Let us also remember that wisdom is also plural and if we search for truth, we may gather wisdom along the way.

Trump,Gay,Porn

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Ode to a thing of Beauty

Five am usually finds me on my walk, though this morning, I moved from my usual morning play list and found myself listening to Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal From a Rose” and I was stunned and stopped by the sheer beauty of the piece- indeed, it reduced me to tears. As a former performer, it made me think about the true purpose of creation. Maybe, that is the true purpose of our being, to create something so achingly beautiful, so painfully exquisite that it would almost stop time. Take a moment and entertain the thought that this may be the true purpose of our life. It may be the only noble goal we can have. Keats wrote that Beauty is truth, truth beauty.  Today, take a moment and focus on doing one thing as beautifully as possible, be that making a sandwich, parking the car, making the bed or interacting with another person. If we can make at least one task in our day beautiful, we can increase the beauty in the world and find an element of truth for ourselves. In an age of multiple narratives perhaps our personal truth is all we can hope for.

 

 

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Technology, Uncategorized

Mourning Becomes Electric

I have a fondness for Whitman’s, “When Lilacs Last Round the Dooryard Bloomed” and primarily the first section with the line, “I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring”. The idea of mourning was one hard to get away from in Whitman’s time, in the closing days of the Civil War, where an estimated 620,000 men lost their lives. I think of the idea of mourning and have come back to it recently and what it means in this our electronic age. Of course, everyone has had that moment of rage when a document or spreadsheet we have been working on disappears into the vapor and not to say that it is not a loss (believe me- I’ve been there) but what happens when so much of where we spend our time can be simply wiped away? We can swipe away a potential mate if we don’t find them attractive or dispose of the digital remains of a relationship with the touch of a button. No more going through letters or books from ones we have loved, the therapeutic tossing of clothes out the window, or destroying the once cherished item left behind from the one who once was so dear. Do we lose something therapeutic when we lose a tactile part of loss? Has our loss of physical mourning created a loss in our ability to mourn and perhaps feel as deeply as we have in the past? Perhaps the blue light of the computer has ceased our song and left us with a different and perhaps poorer lustrous face in the night.

The First Canto and a section of the Sixteenth Canto of “When Lilacs Last Round the Dooryard Bloomed”

1
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

and from the 16th canto…

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

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