Wanted: Quiet Folk (2017Aug10)


Improv – Glamorous Air

Thursday, August 10, 2017                                               1:53 PM

Wanted: Quiet Folk   (2017Aug10)

Are we done having fun yet? It’s been wild, having a nutjob for president, but now that everyone is losing sleep over nuclear Armageddon, from an off-the-cuff remark he thoughtlessly made, isn’t it time we impeached this senile abortion and got a real president?

Democracy without compromise is simply the tyranny of the majority. We allow the majority to elect our officials, but those officials are meant to serve everyone, whether they voted for or against. That is a complex position to be put in—but don’t worry: corruption has dumbed the whole thing down to just ‘getting re-elected’.

Improv – Cuddle Closer

Americans should get back to doing big things for a reason other than profit. The Hoover Dam, the Highway System, the Railroads, the Space Station—Americans used to build great things for the sheer greatness of them. We don’t do that now—but only because we are too distracted to think of it. It makes us small, brings us all down in the mud of money, where the shills have all the power.

The fat gas-bag in the Oval—he infuriated me when he said, “Make America great again”, not simply because he dismissed our present greatness, but redefined our future greatness in terms of dollars and cents—the cad. He should never have been elected—and the fact that he was proves that this country’s greatness, as an ideal, has eluded not just Trump, but a good solid third of the electorate.

Improv – Blue Ballet

So the question arises—how do we convince Americans that they still live in a great country—for reasons that are staring them in the face—when they are so unhappy they can’t appreciate what we have here? One thing we could do is set all the television shows in foreign countries—remind Americans that, here, we are required by law to send our children to school—boys and girls. Remind them of the many ways America is a great place to live—that we don’t use our police as instruments of political oppression—that the vast majority of our cops are public servants, making their neighborhoods safe and just.

Our parochial experiences minimize the truth of this—there are countless protections and freedoms that are not givens, as they are here, in other parts of the world. Theoretically, we make our own laws and choose our own leaders—and it seems apparent that we have to face up to it: We have not been careful stewards of that hard-won privilege. We have become comfortable in the assumption that these freedoms can’t be taken away. We have to start running and voting—and in an informed way that moves us towards solutions to our problems.

The greatest Capitalist, Henry Ford, paid his factory workers high wages, so that they could buy one of the cars they were making. Ford was creating a product and a market at the same time. He wasn’t some present-day fool who saw no connection between business and people. The old saw, ‘You have to spend money to make money’ is most true of governments—this Republican push for ‘independence’ of the individual is just one-percenter propaganda—as if, in the age of global interconnectedness.

We have to grab our citizenship by the throat and wrestle that thing back to what it was intended to be—self-government by majority vote. In my mind, the issues that bedevil us are no longer the problem—at this point, the problem is the issues never get taken care of. We need to elect people who will shut the hell up and do something constructive. Godamit.

Pete n’ Me – Improv – Considering

 

Ceding Power To The Pig (Snort!) (2017Jan03)


Tuesday, January 03, 2017                                                6:22 PM

20141019XD-StandardsSunday (35)To many people someone like me is going to seem like an alarmist, an inciter, a stirrer-up of trouble—trying to upset the boat when everything is mostly working out just fine. What’s so wrong (I imagine them asking) with the world today—especially with the United States—with the status quo? And truly I have no rebuttal to that—for many millions of people, life is better than it has ever been before, in the history of all mankind. The tremendous lace-work of global civilization, with its titanic industries and giant manufactories, with the endless cycle of tons of material—necessities and luxuries—that circle the globe by sea, by rail, by truck, and by air, the smooth operation of all the stores and shops, restaurants and theaters, schools and hospitals, universities and laboratories—our world is a marvel.

And if the United States of America isn’t the epicenter of that marvel, I don’t know where else it could be. Everything is state-of-the-art: communications, transportation, engineering, entertainment, agriculture, medicine—most of the modern world originated here, if not literally, then in spirit. And I wish us all the best—me, you, whoever—I hope the whole thing outlasts all the neglect and abuse heaped on it by we who have come to take it all for granted.

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But, just as a person may be very good at securing a high post, yet have little ability to do the job once hired—it’s looking like the USA was well-equipped to invent the future, but has given no thought at all to maintaining all its healthy ambition, now that Babel has reached thunderbolt-calling altitude.

An older America, full of empty space and potential, loved rapid growth—we suffered boomtowns and cities choking on their own waste—conditions were such that a modern business or local government could never get away with the health risks, the dangers, and the unfairness inherent in an open town, with more traffic in change than in civilizing influences.

And the laws and ordinances that prohibit such chaos today were enacted only after the rush of development had settled and slowed to the point where people started to care about their homes and communities as much as whatever commerce was going on.

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Plus, new business in the present would not be filling a void. Today’s new business is far more likely to impinge on some other business’s market. The kind of growth that made America a ‘big-shouldered’ country—that’s all over. And the cracks that allowed people to avoid being imprisoned by Capitalism have all been filled.

When the power of Capitalism was more potential than actual, the idea of ‘every man for himself’ made things as fair as such things can be. But now we have a mature Capitalism, fully formed and, more importantly, entirely owned already—by a surprisingly small group of people. They not only own all the old stuff—they are strategically poised to acquire any new stuff from the puny inventors or entrepreneurs that find new ways to break through the status quo.

But it is not simply a stranglehold on the common man or woman, whose chances of making it big from scratch are on par with winning the Lotto—it is a stranglehold on the culture. Our legislators and our courts spend virtually all their time and energy on serving the wealthy—good governance and justice have become antiques, found only rarely, in tiny, out-of-the-way places.

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Our obsession with absolute property is itself a symptom of the stagnation and stultification of mature Capitalism—corporations own people’s likenesses, they own people’s silences—they even pay scientists to do research, insuring that, if they can’t own the truth, they can at least obscure it.

Capitalism, Progress, the American Dream—whatever you want to call it—its job is done. We don’t need to build empires anymore—they are built. We don’t need to access our natural resources anymore—they’ve been accessed. We don’t need to build a Republic anymore—it’s been given infrastructure, industry, wealth, and power—all its citizens can talk to each other, from any place at any time—we are the envy of the world.

Our biggest and only problem is recognizing that the ends our forebears worked towards have been reached—period—full stop. Our job is not to keep hammering our heads against the family wall—it is to take stock of what we have—of where we’ve arrived—and try to find some new way forward. Hopefully it will have something to do with taking responsibility for the deprived victims of our present system. Hopefully it will reverse our present system’s tendency to empower the entitled, elitist pigs, like our fresh-baked president-elect.

Banana Time   (2016Sep30)


Friday, September 30, 2016                                              11:08 PM

Where is the love, people? Where is the love? Are we so afraid of something bad happening that we can’t spare a moment to consider something good that might happen? We can argue about the size of government and try to make that the issue, but—communities used to do a much better job of taking care of their own—states used to subsidize their state colleges enough to keep tuition down to a reasonable fee, instead of a small home mortgage. Welfare was roundly condemned for having a few bad apples—but back in the welfare days, a company had to pay a de facto minimum-wage that was high enough above welfare to make it worth working full-time, instead of collecting checks.

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And why are we starved for jobs when the infrastructure of all fifty states is either unsafe or outmoded? We could spend money on infrastructure and count it the same way a homeowner counts home improvements, as a good investment—with the added bonus of jobs aplenty. The enhanced infrastructure will spur business growth.

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I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember—when Eisenhower started the interstate highway construction, commerce exploded. In the New York metro area alone, the bridges and highways that made all of Long Island to the South—and all of Westchester to the North—brief, pleasant drives to and from the city, turned lazy little backwaters into bedroom communities for city-workers. The construction boom alone lasted decades. The commerce both in city-to-suburbs, and in services industries for these exploding communities, was part of what made my early years a time of seemingly endless growth, here in New York, and all over the nation.

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And, believe it or not, if the economy booms loud enough, you start to see a labor shortage. Labor shortages are good for labor—increased demand forces increased salaries. If you want to grow the middle class, get the economy growing at a rate fast enough to create a labor squeeze—we haven’t seen a labor competition in a long time. But, let me tell you—it is a beautiful thing. When employers simply can’t get enough workers, they start paying people more money. You should see it—beautiful, I tell you.

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I sometimes suspect the rich actually suppress growth to keep the 99% on the back foot, demand-wise. And then there’s foreign labor—that’s us turning a blind eye to unfair conditions in other countries, just for cheap stuff at K-Mart. Big mistake, long-term—not to mention ethically blind. Don’t buy shit from China.

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But this is the world we live in now. Who ya gonna believe, my facts, or the other guy’s facts? It doesn’t matter—I write for the pleasure of hearing myself talk (in my head). There’s a shit-ton of infrastructure in this well-developed country—but it’s all pretty old by now, a lot of it needs re-furbishing or outright replacing. Add in the clean-energy industry, and the need for a modernized power-grid from coast-to-coast, replacing half-a-nation’s worth of lead water-pipes (and disposing of them safely), and a resurgent manufacturing sector—you’re talking about a lot of jobs.

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So I expect Hillary to do something immense with infrastructure projects. If the government invests in the country, I’m sure American businesses can take care of finding a use for a vibrant, modern business environment. And if she taxes them for the privilege, well, it’s about damn time, is all I can say. I’ve heard enough rich-folk mumbo-jumbo about ‘trickle-down in my face and call it rain’. Pay your fair share, you sleazy bastards. It’s all take, take, take with you scumbags… Well, break-time for you—reality check. Even rich folk don’t get something for nothing.

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I blame a lot of this on the media—those people are always chasing after the butterflies, they never show us the onrushing train of current events, just a bunch of sensationalist trash. But it’s our fault too—they go by ratings, and we have no one to blame for high ratings but ourselves. But we don’t expect TV or the internet to be serious, like a book—we expect it to give us escapism, like opium. That’s what we want, so that’s what they air. We have to want information to get information. But we’re just a bunch of monkeys—we don’t care, as long as we get our banana on schedule.

Photo Aug 16, 1 10 44 AM (1)

Now, here’s a little something I played earlier today:

Hope it suits.

 

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…Russ, and Joey, and ?, ?, ?

Four Political Thoughts (2015Nov06)


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Thursday, November 05, 2015                                         3:41 PM

Can You Feel The Warming Now?   (2015Nov05)

Oil and Coal interests have been denying climate change for so long that they are now being investigated by the New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman. Since the world outside our borders has accepted climate change as real, there are a mounting number of international agreements on limiting carbon emissions. As the writing on the wall becomes more legible, a new legal strategy presents itself—by obfuscating the unstoppable tide of repression that fossil fuels face in the near future, Schneiderman posits, energy companies have been misleading their investors as to the value of energy stocks—in other words, financial fraud.20151106XD-Rijk_Lectern-Felix_Meritis_Society

Big Energy has been questioning scientists’ concerns over greenhouse gasses since the 1970s—and has been successful, domestically, in carrying the day, partly due to confusion raised by conflicting research—which they paid for. This was a successful strategy insofar as it focused on doubting the details and expanding the questions—difficulties with ‘absolute proof’ are inherent in scientific research, especially in a field as new as climate science. That is the whole point of ‘doubt factory’ lawyering.

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But we have reached a point where doubting climate science only works now in a court of law—finer points aside, only an idiot would question climate change as visible, and worsening. Plus, even if climate change is unprovable, in a legal sense, there is no question that people and businesses are now behaving as if it is true—and this changes the future potential value of energy stocks. In short, economic pressures pushed the energy companies to fight the inevitable—and now economic pressures are going to oppose their interests.

There is sometimes a subtle poetry to politics—if efforts like this new lawsuit can enhance America’s too-slow response to this issue, we may yet have a hope of retaining the polar ice-caps and avoiding sending most of the globe’s coastal real estate where Atlantis went. Of course, there’s still overfishing and rising acidity in the oceans, habitat-loss and species-loss on land, and plenty of other disasters-in-waiting to worry about—but clean-energy conversion would still be something we could all be proud of.

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Some Kind Of Crazy

What is the difference between Trump crazy and Ben Carson crazy? Trump’s brand of crazy comes from ego and avarice—a businessman who feels that defeating the competition is as valuable as succeeding, a boardroom warrior who would rather burn down the building than lose his standing, a financier who would gladly bankrupt his company to protect his personal fortune, regardless of the losses suffered by others. He respects strength and strategy—which is understandably attractive to Republicans, yet Trump doesn’t discard practical knowledge, math, or science because they are too useful—and far more common in business than they ever are in politics.

Ben Carson’s crazy is a whole other animal—Rachel Maddow recently described it as a war on epistemology, or the ‘theory of knowledge’. According to recent quotes, it appears that Carson’s ‘American History’ (as well as his personal history) are simply stories he makes up as he goes along. His fundamentalism makes for some outlandishly screwy quotes that would place most people firmly in the ‘crank’ category—but he is a GOP presidential candidate, so at least during the primary he gets a pass on that particular line of nutcake.

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Ben Carson is an iconoclast, i.e. ‘a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions’—but where traditional usage refers to those who attack religion and the establishment, Carson is an iconoclast who attacks the cherished ideas of humanism and science. More than that, he attacks many ideals that most of us consider core principles of the American spirit. His statements about barring Muslims from elected office are a direct contradiction of our Constitution. Moreover, I find any kind of fundamentalism or evangelical zealotry to be vaguely un-American—to accept pluralism requires us to be hard-headed about which of our faiths’ finer points should be debated as public policy.

On the surface, it would appear that anyone can believe anything—our thoughts don’t show, our religion doesn’t imprint on our foreheads. Our freedom of religion recognizes that fact—but it also implies that we have to be circumspect in any real-world manifestations of our chosen faith, particularly in public—especially in politics. There is a world of difference between believing that the Earth is only 6,000 years old—and deciding policy based on that belief. If your faith tells you that women have less status than men, you still have to recognize that, in the real world, the rest of us—and the law—don’t agree.

Today’s far-right has embraced the evangelical, ignoring the fact that theocracy by any other name is still anti-American. There are many faiths in this country—and there always will be. To pick just one, and incorporate it into a political platform, should by all rights be political suicide—that this is not true for the GOP is just one of its many dysfunctions. And it is also what makes a delusional nut-job like Ben Carson a viable candidate for their party.

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Why We (Choose To) Fight

I was shocked the other night watching “The Brain with David Eagleman” on PBS—it was the episode about how we make choices. Towards the end, he shows an experiment that measures a person’s ‘disgust’ threshold—that is, how easily they are grossed out. Then he follows that up with another experiment that measures a person’s political bent—conservative or liberal. What was shocking about this was his statement that the tests showed a virtually unanimous correlation between a low ‘disgust’ threshold and a preference for conservatism. Neuroscientist David Eagleman said that he could look at the results of just the first test—and tell a person’s political leanings without giving them the second test.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. What are the things conservatives often deride about liberals?—Gooey things, like long hair, quiche, yogurt, or tofu—just the kinds of things that, at first glance, are somewhat repulsive. There is a ‘disgust’ barrier around these things—and only certain kinds of people will push back long enough to give these things a try. Not all liberals enjoy yogurt, you understand—but liberals are more likely to give it a try.

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Being hawkish is a conservative trait—perhaps the male ego feels disgust for the idea of not fighting—even when fighting may be a bad idea. Poor people can be kind of gross—and women’s health certainly makes men squeamish—health issues in general can get pretty slimy, repulsing both men and women. Wouldn’t it be funny if conservatism turned out to be regressive—a sign of emotional childishness? Like kids who won’t even try their broccoli. Xenophobia is a form of disgust—perhaps that is what makes liberals more inclusive—they more easily look past the surface strangeness to the human being underneath.

I say we stop considering conservatism as merely another point of view—I say we start calling liberalism what it really is—intellectual maturity. Then again, I don’t need a scientist to convince me that conservatives are often childish—and being childish, nothing anyone says will convince them to change their minds. Only voting them out of office will do that.

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Suggestion Box

I have a couple of suggestions. First, we should consider the millions of Syrian refugees as a potential resource. European countries are already seeing the potential benefit of an influx of younger, more energetic citizens. But what about giving Syrians a chance to do something about their own country?

What say the UN offers all young adult Syrian refugees the opportunity for military training—we gear up a few divisions of native sons and daughters, give them the arms and equipment and support they’d need to retake their country, and point them at Assad and ISIL? That way, outsiders like the US don’t have to send troops into a foreign country. Young displaced Syrians have an opportunity to do something other than depend on the charity of the world—and they wouldn’t go anywhere after the fighting is over—they’ll set up a responsive government—maybe they’ll even send for their relatives, old and young, to rejoin them in their native land— a Syria finally free of endless fighting. It’s just a thought.

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My second suggestion is for Hillary Clinton’s campaign—hey, why don’t you guys rise above the media’s narrative and focus your platform entirely on infrastructure? You could come up with specific projects for most of the fifty states—smart highways, clean energy, bullet trains, wilderness bridges, dam tunnel, bridge and highway refurbishing, underground fiber-optic networks,–hell, I could go on and on—and I’m just one person. I’m sure a room full of people could produce quite a list.

And every one of those projects would make jobs, stimulate our economy, and put America’s infrastructure back to its former place as leader of the world. One of the most telling aspects of a developed country is its ease of transportation and communication—and these are the greatest lacks of underdeveloped countries. Lack of roads and barriers to communication contribute to poverty, hunger, and despotism in all the most bedeviled parts of the world—and those with a plethora of such resources are too busy doing business to have uprisings, insurgents, or to invite the chaos we find in the world’s worst trouble-spots.

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Eisenhower’s great post-war push to grow America’s highways was an essential element in our rise to wealth and power in the latter half of the twentieth century—but now we are losing roads, bridges and other key features through neglect and an assumed entitlement that often precedes a great empire’s slide into decline. This stuff won’t fix itself.

We spend a lot of time and money on what we call Defense—it’s more than half the federal budget. Shouldn’t we consider taking some defensive measures against the passage of time? If we don’t have the will, or the spirit, to improve our infrastructure, we should at least defend against the loss of what our forebears have already provided.

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All images are property of the Rijksmuseum—to whom all thanks are due:

Gazette du Bon Ton 1914, No. 8, Pl. 80: L’Arbre de science /Robe du soir de Doeuillet, Anonymous, George Doeuillet, Lucien Vogel, 1914

Mantle clock (pendule), Anonymous, Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, c. 1802 – c. 1803

Allegory of the science, Jeremias of Chess, Henry Crown Velt, 1696

Portrait of Dr Gachet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Ferdinand Gachet, 1890

Invention of the compass, Philips Galle, c. 1589 – c. 1593

Mécanique de Vaisseau-volant, Anonymous, c. 1781 – c. 1784

Lectern of the Felix Meritis Society, Anonymous, c. 1778 – c. 1779

Artilleriewerkplaats, Philips Galle, c. 1589 – c. 1593

Book Printing, Philips Galle, c. 1589 – c. 1593

Windmolen, Philips Galle, c. 1598 – c. 1593

Life on a Go Board


ancienmanor

I don’t like it when words are used as stones on a Go board, or statements used as chess-pieces—those are combat simulations—since when did communication become combat? For that matter, when did words become the only form of communication? Actions speak louder than words, but words, or perhaps videos’ scripts, are considered a life-connection from you or me to someone halfway round the world. Am I really connected to those people? Funny story (you know I accept friend-requests from anyone) this new Facebook-friend of mine only posts in Arabic—it’s beautiful stuff, but I don’t even know the basic phonemes of that written language—and I had to ask him to tell me his name (or equivalent sound) in Roman script.

I don’t want to get into a debate here about argument. Formal argument, or debate, is certainly useful and productive—as is regular old arguing, when it’s done with restraint or when its goal is an elusive solution or resolution. The Scientific Method, itself, is an implied debate—a conflict between prior theories and the new theories that overthrow them—or that are overthrown thereby—no, I’m not saying that communication isn’t rife with conflict—my purpose here is to discuss other forms of communication and sharing. So, please, let’s not argue (—jk).

ancienMask

I finally realized that all these unsolicited friend requests from the Mid-East were because I was using a photo of Malala Yousafzaya as my Profile Pic! I’m glad—now I know they’re not shadowy extremists trying to cultivate an American connection—they are instead the liberals of their geographic zone.

Such international friends frustrate me—the lack of words that I don’t type could be just as offensive as any thoughtless words I post—and there are plenty of those. I wish I knew what they were. Whenever someone wants to Facebook-friend me as their American friend, I start right in on criticizing all their grammar faux pas and misunderstood colloquialisms—they love it—that’s what they want from their American friend. I’m afraid geek-dom knows no borders—only my fellow geeks from faraway lands appreciate criticism—I’m sure people with the Cool gene flock together across the datasphere as well (but then, I’ll never know—will I?)

ancienRug

But communication, as a means of sharing ideas and organizing cooperative efforts, is far more than a battle of witty words. Political cartoons, cartoon cartoons, obscene gestures, and ‘making out’ come first to mind—although there are plenty more examples. The Media (a term I use to denote People magazine, other newspapers and periodicals, radio, cable-TV, VOD, cable-news, talk shows, private CC security footage, YouTube and the omnipresent Internet.) I say… the Media is looking for trouble.

They aren’t broadcasting cloudless summer skies or a happy family sitting around the dinner table or the smoothly proceeding commuter traffic a half a mile from the traffic accident. And I don’t blame them. Their job is to entertain—that’s what pays their bills. And I don’t blame us, either. We are happier watching dramatic thrills than watching paint drying. There’s no getting around that.

And I won’t play the reactionary and suggest that we go back to a time when entertainment was a brief treat enjoyed, at most, once a week. Even the idle rich (and this is where that ‘idle’ part comes from) just sat around socializing when they weren’t at a fox-hunt or a ball. To be entertained was almost scandalous—think of it—in a deeply religious society, such escapism went against the morality of the times—and even as a once-a-week diversion, it was frowned upon not only to be a stage player, but to attend the performance, as well.

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But entertainment, like a gas, expands to fit the size of its civilization—those old scruples took a few centuries to kick over, but once the digital age had dawned it seemed quite natural that everyone should have access to twenty-four-hour-a-day entertainment (call it ‘news and current events’, if it helps). And now we have people walking into walls and driving their cars into walls while they stare fixedly at their entertainment devices.

So, trite as the word may seem, Media is a mandatory entity to include in any discussion of the human condition. And more importantly, it must be a part of the Communication topic, as well—most especially with a view towards a formulation of culture that does not make conflict our primary means of sharing and informing our minds. So let’s recap—Entertainment equals drama equals conflict equals fighting (See ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’). Information equals scientific method equals discussion equals human rights (See ‘Bruce Willis’—jk).

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To begin, there is one thing that needs to be acknowledged—learning is NOT fun. I’d love it if it was—I know fun can be used to teach some things—It’s a lovely thought—but, No. Learning is a process of inserting information into the mind. People talk a lot about transcendental meditation but, for real focus, learning is the king. To learn, one must be patient enough to listen; to absorb an idea, one must be willing to admit that one doesn’t know everything; to completely grasp a new teaching, one may even have to close ones eyes and just concentrate—nothing more, no diversions, no ringtone, no chat, no TV, no nothing—just thinking about something that one is unfamiliar with—and familiarizing oneself.

We forget all that afterward—the proof in that is that none of us graduate from an educational institution with the ability to ‘sub’ for all the teachers we’ve studied under. We have learned, but only a part of what was taught—it’s implications, ramifications, uses, and basic truths may have eluded us while we ‘learned to pass the class’. Contrariwise, our teachers may have bit their tongues—eager to share some little gem of Mother Nature’s caprice implicit in the lesson plan—and had instead put the ‘teaching of the class to pass’ before the ‘teaching of the class’.

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And that is no indictment of teaching, that’s just a fact—it doesn’t prevent me from admiring great teachers. But I couldn’t help notice that great teachers always color outside the lines in some few ways. Teaching people to learn for themselves, with that vital lesson neatly tucked into the course-plan of the material subject of a course—it takes effort, discipline, and way more patience than that possessed by most of the rest of us—but it also requires an allegiance to the Truth of Plurality, that incubator of eccentricity.

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But we forget our Learning. It becomes something we simply ‘know’, something that we just ‘know how to do’. Part of good parenting is learning to teach well—young people have the luxury of just understanding something, while parents must struggle to figure out how to explain it, or teach it, to their children. And then we forget about that learning—and must scratch our heads again, struggling to explain ‘explaining’ to our grown-up, new-parent offspring. It’s a light comedy as much as anything else.

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So learning is not fun. There is a thrill involved, however, that is almost always worth the ticket price. The internet and the TV blare words at us in their millions, info to keep us up-to-date—just a quick update—and now there’s more on that—and we’ll be hearing a statement from the chief of police….—also, we are seduced by lush orchestrations or driven musical beats, by the gloss and beauty and steel and flesh of literal eye-candy, and that dash of soft-core porn that is the engine under the hood of so many TV series.

We see breaking YouTube uploads of rioting in a faraway land—we believe that our quiet little lives are nothing, that all our sympathy and concern should be spread across the globe to billions of strangers in distress. We are flooded with information by the Media—but because it’s the Media, only conflicts and crises are shown—the peaceful, happy billions of people that pass by those crowd scenes, that seek refuge across the border, that have families and generate love to whomever gets near enough—we don’t need to see them.

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But that isn’t true—it’s true for the Media, but it isn’t true for us. The Media can’t change—but we can be aware of its bias. We can take note of the fact that the Media should not be the major part of our dialogues with one another. Best of all, we can become aware of how much the Internet can teach us—if we can stop IM-ing and web-surfing and MOMPG-ing long enough to notice that the Internet is a hell of a reference book.

No, I’m not saying we should trust the Internet. I’m saying that the real information is there, and finding it and using it will be the road into the future that our best and brightest will walk along. They will pull their eyes away from the Mario Race-Cart, the YouTube uploads of kittens and car-crashing Russians, and George Takei’s Facebook page—and they will throw off the chains of Media and make it their bitch again, back where it belongs.

lareale

In WWII, fighter-group captains and flight-team leaders are always saying ‘Cut the chatter, guys—heads up!’ I think we need the same thing—everyone should have a little devil on their shoulder that says the same thing—“Hey! –so the Internet connects you to the entire civilized world—that doesn’t mean you have to say anything—it just means you can.”

Our high-tech communications infrastructure is no small part of the problem—the digital magic that flings words and pics and music all over the world bestows an importance and a dignity to our messages that many messages don’t deserve. Posting to the Internet is kind of like being on TV—it grants a kind of immortality to the most banal of text-exchanges—it can even be used against you in court—now, that’s very special and important—and now, so am I, just for posting!

precolumbnGoblet

So, yearning for the perennial bloodlust of Law & Order: SVU, our self-importance inflated, and our eyes off the road, we speed towards tomorrow. I hate being a cynic.

[PLEASE NOTE: All graphics courtesy of the Quebec National Gallery]