I Blame Wolf (2019Jan18)

Friday, January 18, 2019                                          6:59 PM

I Blame Wolf   (2019Jan18)

News-media producers are coming up against an uncomfortable truth—their origin was in Public Service for a reason. The early TV journalists were very direct in exercising their First Amendment rights—to better inform the public. That was their job—you didn’t have to sponsor them and, more importantly, you didn’t have to watch them. They were there to inform whoever cared enough to want to learn.

That is a public service. News-media as profitable entertainment? Not even close. Quite the contrary. By seeking larger audiences, news-shows ‘dumb down’ the reporting—and the discussion. They force a bubble of stupidity over our national discourse. And that is just one of the ways in which journalism-for-profit is a threat to this country.

But don’t go tarring print journalism with the same brush—those old papers have never been get-rich-quick professions—only those with the calling go through what real journalists do. It’s an insult to them even to mention digital News-media in the same category.

It all goes back to Wolf and the CNN gang on that Baghdad hotel balcony, streaming us real-time war-porn for us to watch on our couches, eating chips and ice cream. Was that a part of the digital revolution? Yeah. Was it a journalism coup? No. War correspondents have risked their lives before—on the line, with the soldiers they’re covering. War correspondents have never before sat themselves down in a bombing-target zone and babbled into a microphone like cocktail party guests. No.

So, for two weeks or so, CNN was a profitable business. The problem was nobody needs twenty-four news unless there’s a war going on. And the rest, if not journalism, is certainly history. Literally.

Trump could never have gotten this far, unscathed, if we weren’t locked into this cable-news/social-media battle royale of ignorance and sensationalism. A criminal traitor scumbag became president of the united states. We can only wait and hope for impeachment. It would almost be a relief to blame it all on Trump and the Russians. But that’s leaving out the show-biz.

Dear Turner Classic Movies: (2019Jan15)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019                                                10:34 PM

Dear Turner Classic Movies:   (2019Jan15)

Being a disabled half-a-shut-in, I’ve spent more of my life watching your channel than is natural or healthy—and I am grateful for it. Like many of your viewers, I’m fascinated with the breadth of cinema, the depth of history, and the complexity of a century-plus of moving-picture artistry.

One of the great charms of movies is the caught-in-amber historicity of the figures-of-speech from distant decades. The Runyonesque dialogs, the gangster patter, the particular speech of Americans during WWII—many different accents and expressions are jewelry-settings of distant times and lost neighborhoods. It is an essential part of each movie.

My hearing is so good that I often (i.e. always) use the closed-captioning while watching TV. And here is where I find the one annoying thing about TCM—the CC’s are typed by a young person with no ear for chronological jargon, without any experienced supervision. On some movies, typos and mis-hearings abound with every other screen of dialogue.

I recognize the expense of closed-captioning subtitles is prohibitive. However, with so much energy directed towards the restoration and preservation of the movies’ images—it seems wrong to attach, eternally, a faulty transcription of what is being said.

And it wouldn’t hurt to add music-titles and foreign-phrase-translations—though I suppose that’s extra. Anyway, in a perfect world, right?

A big fan,

Xper Dunn

American Snowflake (2019Jan12)

Saturday, January 12, 2019                                               1:27 PM

American Snowflake   (2019Jan12)

Sexism

Racism

Religious Extremism

Demonizing journalism

Scoffing at the Law

Dishonesty

We have seen the celebration of all the above faults under a Trump administration. We have endured ridicule for being overly precious about our ethics and our sense of fairness. We hear our Media give the White Nationalists every exposure and legitimacy—as if they were simply another ‘side’ of the story. We see our Supreme Court packed with predators.

Now we can say: yes, it does matter. Not only do the above failings mark a person as ignorant and without conscience. These failings now present themselves as backdoors for America’s enemies.

Where we once tolerated bigots, mashers, and white-collar criminals—in the spirit of inclusion—we now see that we can’t afford the risk to our national security on anti-American sentiments. In a global society, rife with YouTube recruitment and state-run hacker-co-ops, Americans must be fully American.

When we see racist or sexist Facebook posts, we must assume the poster to be treasonous, probably Russian. When some bible-neck puts Jesus before our Constitution, we must assume they are a mole from some primitive theocracy, like Saudi Arabia. And when someone shuts down the entire government for no clear reason at all—that man is a traitor. He should be tried and hung, while we still have our flag flying.

Stray Thoughts (2019Jan10)

Thursday, January 10, 2019                                              1:15 PM

Stray Thoughts   (2019Jan10)

We are not the top. We are not the end. We are children without experience or context. This universe was near-infinitely ancient, prior to the appearance of the first strand of DNA that allowed the first mite of scum to reproduce. Life was less-infinitely ancient, prior to the appearance of recorded civilization—which, itself, lasted tens of thousands of years before the appearance of our ‘planetarily-carcinogenic’ addiction to fossil-fuel technology.

Yet we go on preparing ourselves to be literally boiled in our own waste. Worse—not even ourselves, but our grandchildren. We will all die in air-conditioned comfort—our heirs will be slowly tortured to death on a poisoned planet.

If it is a tragedy to be without wisdom, how much greater the tragedy, when we have wisdom and refuse to acknowledge it?

People debate the existence of extra-terrestrial life—like much media, this is infantile fodder for debating the obvious—a convenient Rorschach-card of a conversation topic. Of course there is life out there. There are only three real questions.

One: Is astronomical distance an impenetrable barrier? If so, ‘life’ is a parochial affair, insulated from us and from each other by distances that defy comprehension.  Two: If ET’s could visit Earth, would they want to? And Three: If ET’s visited Earth, would they deign to communicate with humanity?

Outside of these three questions, debate is not just useless—it is an excuse to use UFOs as an analogy for xenophobia.

Humanity tends to conflate its present knowledge-base for the entirety of knowledge. We can laugh at ancient people who made this mistake—but we should remember not to make jokes of ourselves.

I miss the pre-Internet days—people like me (bookworms) were a thing. If anyone wanted to know how to spell a word, or how to calculate a percentage, or whether Bach came before Beethoven, or how to test the pool for pH levels—someone would say, “Ask Chris.” It was nice—being the know-it-all. It made up, a little, for being a nerd.

Back then, information wasn’t everywhere—you had to know where to look (which is still true, but not as literally). My name got passed around, just like a good car-mechanic’s, or a reliable pot-dealer’s. Of course, no one considered it my profession—because this was back when information was still ‘free’. People considered asking-me-a-question payment enough for the answer.

When I got carried away and started spouting more information than they wanted to hear, they’d say, “Stop. I don’t want to hear it.” And they’d walk away. I was the information-source—they’d turn me off, if they didn’t like the information. Nothing surprising there.

But they wouldn’t contradict me. They didn’t curate my information to suit their personal preferences—like trolls do now. Don’t take trolls personally, by the way—they are simply young people, glorying in the freedom to deny reality and social mores and common sense. It’s like a drug—taking away the constraints of gravity, for as long as one can stay at the keyboard.

But most of all, back when information still mattered, a madman like our current president—and the Senate goons supporting him—would have been justifiably laughed out-of-office. Hearings would have been unnecessary.

Somehow, the Right has taken ‘two sides to every story’ (which makes sense) and twisted it into ‘legitimacy for the self-serving side of a story’ (which is the opposite of sense). It sounds a lot like religion—something the secular do well to avoid in their business and government practices—hence the wise division between Church and State.

The Right has embraced the fact that propaganda works on a sizable percent of the governed—just as Fascists did in the Nineteen-Thirties—and chosen to abuse that knowledge, using today’s communications tools, rather than running “The More You Know” PSAs or some other, less malignant, more helpful, interaction with the people of the nation.

The most religion-like aspect of Trump-supporters is their eagerness to reject science, fact, evidence, and truth. This is where the tide of madness has risen highest. And the commercial media must share the indictment of their success—since the sensationalism-value of bat-shit-crazy gathers eyeballs better than a severed head rolling down the street, and executives are too greedy to factor in mental health concerns (or concerns for mass hysteria, come to that).

This eagerness to contradict school-book facts and sober science, though—we should probably take a look at where that comes from. We used to be one bad harvest from animals—we’ve evolved (like it or not) to live a simple life.

Yes we are clever apes, no doubt. But are we, as a species, adept enough to use the rules-of-the-road, our remote controls, our ATM cards, our on-line bill-paying, and our Twitter app? Police Blotters worldwide say no, not all of us, not every day. And that’s just the bare bones of modern life-skills.

If a Masters Degree becomes the default educational ‘job requirement’—where it used to be only for the unusually scholarly or dedicated—does that mean we are asking too much of ourselves, as a group? The trouble with Progress-as-defined-by-Capitalism is that we are hostages to it.

Progress doesn’t serve us—it conscripts us. And should we fall out of step, we get ripped to shreds by the cleverer apes, the greedier apes. Progress-as-defined–by-Liberals is less savage—we see a future where the robots take our jobs, yes, but we still get paid. Silly, I know—to a Capitalist. Those people can’t just take the Win and turn to a better way—and that’s going to bite us all in the ass.

The world is changing faster as technology explodes from yesterday’s successes to a thousand-times more successes tomorrow. But, as tech becomes more powerful, its failures become more dangerous. In fact, we should just pay everybody a nice salary, with benefits—and change our paradigm to shepherding our technology along safe pathways.

That is our new job, as a civilization. We have all earned a permanent retirement from hard labor—nobody does any large-scale farming or large-scale manufacturing by hand anymore. Our job now is to co-exist with each other, and maintain the global machinery of our economy, without a profit motive to screw things up.

If you still use the phrase ‘earning a living’, as if you were splitting fence-rails with Honest Abe, you’ve never seen a Dilbert cartoon. If you are more concerned with other peoples’ behavior than you are with examining yourself, you should be in politics (I’m not saying you’ll be good at—but your kind seem happy there).

And, yes, obviously, the underserved are far more eager to give up the current paradigm than the rich and powerful—and the rich and powerful are so damned selfish, they’d blow it all up in a war, rather than share any of it. So there’s that. I keep saying—it’s all about mental health.

Capitalism isolates people—discouraging cooperation—prioritizing individual ownership over use or fairness. As a nineteenth- and twentieth-century engine for change, Capitalism did its job. But its job is over. All done. But do we celebrate? No. It’s funny.

Mostly Democrats (2019Jan06)

Sunday, January 06, 2019                                        2:36 PM

Mostly Democrats   (2019Jan06)

If those who choose a career in civil service are mostly Democrats, as Trump suggests, that would be a stunning indictment of Republicans. Is the GOP completely devoid of interest in serving the people, except for elected or appointed positions of power and privilege? Does their party exist solely to disrupt and obfuscate our federal government?

Better question: Do the Republicans promote ‘smaller government’ because it is the road to ‘no government’? When has our government ever made a positive difference in peoples’ lives, while the Republicans weren’t fighting tooth and nail to hold back the changes?

Do the Republicans stand for anything other than evangelical fanaticism, wealth, and pop-guns-for-the-home? Their devotion to ignorance makes them natural recruits for authoritarian extremism. They don’t even represent the Conservatives anymore (whom I despised—but at least they clung, however tenuously, to coherency).

I think the Republican Party has embraced Corruption. After all, business is business—and the wealthy puppeteers behind the party see the U. S. Government as just another player—to be targeted for takeover. Most Americans are so money-crazy they’d express little alarm over the idea—but that’s because they fail to recognize the vital differences between business and democratic government.

For decades, the Republicans have claimed that government is too inept to be trusted, while pretending they were worthy of trust. Republicans have claimed that we can’t afford social programs, or even infrastructure, but slip billions to their rich buddies under the table. They are so blatantly dishonest and hypocritical that I’m awed by the dysfunction of it all—people actual fall for their bullshit!

Faith is a wonderful thing. But humanity is eternally plagued by those who would abuse the faith of others, without conscience or scruple. Trump is such, as is McConnell, Ryan, Cruz, Graham, Justice Thomas and that new fratboy Justice—all of them men without honor—in many ways, men without reason.

I’m on the side of the Congresswoman who wants to impeach the motherfucking pussy-grabber. (Pardon the raw language—I wanted to quote equal obscenity from both sides.)

It will take the next Democratic president years to undo all the damage and de-staffing of Trump’s conflagration of everything American. She or he will be lucky if, by the end of their first term, they’ve gotten us back to where Obama left us.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving on. The decapitation-traffic-accident of Trump’s presidency has put them all on notice—America has closed up shop. Look elsewhere for strength, justice, or decency.