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Archive for the ‘Unrequited Opinion’ Category

Has the pandemic put an end to the information age? Are we returning to quiet understanding? There is so much conflicting information vying for the spotlight the more stable and dependable progression of experience, reason and knowledge is once again appealing. Let’s face it, information is complementary to thought but a dreadful substitute for it. It’s not good to have people driving into lakes as the highly informed GPS directs. Or purchasing expensive kitchen equipment that won’t last as long as the spices in the cupboard; then repeating the process based on the latest corporate marketing data. Businesses shouldn’t be paying huge amounts for analysis divined from spurious data with no greater purpose than to protect corporate decision makers with insufficient experience, knowledge or intuition to do the job properly.

Big data is an update on human created deities; wisdom extracted is depended on high priests creating queries, interpreting the results and convincing others of the power of the process. Panning for understanding through floods of data generated in social media is to search for truth in billions of keystrokes of jabberwocky as people dream up their personas on the fly. The whole process lends ‘party of one’ new meaning as each participant sits alone with others. Insights are, at best, ephemeral and seldom challenged by reality.

With global economies in trouble, surviving businesses may have to create results rather than relying on huge marketing budgets and excuses. CEOs may have to turn to traditional business folks – farmers and fishers – for advice. Producers who produce and market their products have long relied on experience, reason and knowledge to return from a storm at sea or salvage a crop during a bad growing season. Excuses, no matter how brilliantly constructed or data-driven, don’t change a thing in their demanding environments. Smart business may see a correlation between a lifeless economy and a nor’easter at sea. Those who don’t adapt may never be seen again.

The rubber hits the road with autonomous cars. Millions of man hours and dollars, decades of development and relentless promotion has resulted in as many sightings of unicorns as information-based driver-less vehicles on standard roads and highways. Most of us quickly develop enough knowledge at a young age to drive without incident. IT has proven no challenge to human experience.

The alphanumeric-graphical model of reality has become so splintered and strayed so far from reality it is often a disadvantage. Information has been weaponized. We have become polarized by incomplete misunderstandings of the information we only know as quoted to us with all the verve of chapter and verse. We are convinced of what is right in many cases without knowing anything at all. We make our decisions based on the marketing of ideas rather than personal observation. We expect our politicians to do the same. They oblige.

It’s time to avoid seemingly inescapable media, witness the world first hand and make our decisions based on our observations, our experience, and our principles. It is time we put ourselves and our communities back in the driver’s seat.

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When thing go very wrong in our lives, in our society, it may be time to look beyond our solutions, our standards, our professionals and even our beliefs to those who do not repeatedly face the same tribulations. If our world is devastated repeatedly in heinous social acts without apparent reason, can faulty reasoning itself be the problem?

What is noticeably different in people and communities not facing our overwhelming challenges? Do they live their lives contributing to the whole rather than trying to be masters of it? Do they have fewer professionals working out solutions and choreographing the future in accordance to the visions of untenable ideals? Do they value vital concepts more or material rewards less?

Can less guidance – be it advertising or professional – grant greater freedom of thought and nurture better mental health? Should we practice turning to ourselves for answers before calling in the professionals? Should we encourage such behavior in others while teaching social skills conducive to building a healthy, cooperative community? Have religious and highly-educated secular leaders of unquestionable authority strayed too far from humanity to be of value?

We are inundated with professional guidance from all angles and disciplines; do we question it adequately? Is their advice necessarily suited to our lives or is it entirely based on the lives of other individuals or the statistical abstracts of those lives? Are we straining the life out of our lives? Is our vision of personal success being eroded by those who give us answers to problems they must define before we can even suffer from them? Do we listen to ourselves too little? Are we haunted by a small, insignificant voice that is all that remains of us in a sea of conflicting information? Does that voice rage? Do we identify that voice as madness when it is out of sync with the decreed norm? Can we still identify our voice above the din of media and highly-informed jargon? Is there a part of us that needs to exist and be recognized at any cost? Can our children continue to survive the transformation from who they are to who they should be in a world ideally suited to those who seldom frequent this one?

Maybe a few moments of silence and uninformed thought might help everyone of us and in turn all of us.

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We have been jettisoning our culture for decades without due care and attention. We have been identifying faults in every principle on which we stood and casting them out but how have we been replacing that foundation? Who is replacing that foundation? What mental bacteria are we hosting unsuspectingly? Whose words are the new gospel? It is as human to believe as it is to breathe. Who has been supplying our new found beliefs? What makes the new beliefs superior to the old ones? Defining one’s beliefs makes them subject to questioning and ridicule but what do we actually know about the less familiar replacements? Are the sources of funding (as illusive as gods to atheists) for the creation of information investing in the future or feeding the greed?

We have been modeling reality seriously with words, numbers, graphs and maps now for about the lifespan of a generation of old growth forest. Unfortunately, they too are being sacrificed to our holy explanations. The model in its present state has strayed too far from reality to feed the hunger consuming the world. Words fail us, numbers aren’t adequately explaining abstract ideas, graphs stagnating on a page don’t represent the activity of being. Information is being hollowed out and sold to us like industrial flour and we buy it as almighty truth; empty calories for the mind.

Secular priests, paid up and mortarboarded, highly informed on all things worldly are happy to inform us we will soon understand how time and space can exist at all without being infinite. (I have a nice logo for the perpetual motion machine as soon as it is completed.)

When someone tells you your beliefs are laughable, laugh. We all deserve a good laugh and a moment to reflect on life, our cobbled together explanations of it and the vain seriousness of our incomplete misunderstandings.

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Maniacal Merger

Imagine paying to take your family to a sporting event and having both teams gang up to pummel the audience for the pleasure of those in the box seats. The relationship of government and corporations looks increasingly like that. We discuss which is better suited to look after us without realizing they are a different face of the same beast. Corporations don’t give us jobs, governments give them our resources and they pay the least compensation possible to have it put in boxes so it can be shipped to countries with the lowest government controlled labor costs. Our forefathers would truly be amazed and then angered; they left countries with no respect for its citizenry and endured unfathomable hardships to give their future families a better chance. We spent their life’s work and dreams in a sea of entertainment, electronic trinkets and virtual food in pretty boxes (which could explain the loss of critical thinking).

Those who spend their lives in pursuit of money and power don’t do it so they can squander it on our lot. If we want a bearable future for our communities and their members we will have to act as communities – those we presently turned to will be against us every step of the way. Their power is the power we give them with every purchase and every vote. When we don’t buy locally we pay governments and banks for use of their money and corporations for the labor of our underpaid and poorly treated competition. Now we want to add cell phones to the payment mix so the telcos can join the others in the payment profit stream. Are we so rich we can afford to pay the lot of them for unnecessary services reluctantly rendered?

The actions of those who have made greed their god are as understandable as they are for any addiction – completely self-serving. The complacency and willingness of the rest of us to abandon the dreams of our past and our future to accommodate them is incomprehensible. Our complete lack of applied concern has divided us from our ancestors and our children and their children. How bad does it have to get before we talk to the neighbors or support the local farmer? By continuing to overlook the obvious now we are assuring our values will be overlooked for generations to come.

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Claude Shannon – great free-thinking scientist and an inspiration for us all. A man so consumed by his passion and his work he spent no time ensuring the world would not overlook his gift.
Now that’s creative genius enhanced by a life of unending education.

Struggled through without a degree:

Henry Ford
Thomas Edison
Samuel Clemens
Rosa Parks
Bill Gates
Steve Jobs

Awarded degrees:

Larry Summers
Newt Gingrich
George W. Bush
Bernard Madoff
Donald Trump
A large number of underemployed, dispirited people with a sense of betrayal

Education is obviously a very good thing, even if purchased by degrees, but should we always select and celebrate those holding credential from licensed establishments over all others? Education does not create or destroy intelligence, it informs it. (Only belief can narrow perspective to a point of selective darkness. e.g. I am brilliant so the opinion of others is of little consequence.) We expose students to alphabets, numbers and rules in the belief they will become creative geniuses and masters of their universe in the process. They don’t. There are only going to be so many consummate, capable people and we will not be able to stop them, try as we might. Information is so free flowing, determined people will learn whatever they want; thanks in no small part to the marketing savvy of Gates and Jobs. The days of having to join an order and don robes to obtain access to secret or specific scriptures are past. As things stand now, autodidacts simply show more initiative and creativity in exploring their interests than those picking something up on the way to the rest of their lives. Pilots and doctors require structured learning, information and experience (licensing is a nice touch) but studying business or music is akin to stalking in the hopes of finding true love. For those whose passion is themselves, stick to the plan; for those with loftier goals, your time has arrived.

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We elect candidates we hate the least and buy from companies from which we have the most to fear. (BP sells 100% of their product to humans right here on planet earth.) We willingly give our children’s future to a very thin slice of beings who show absolutely no commitment to the species or the planet. They treat us with complete contempt and we respond by honoring the divine right of CEOs.

With the guiding hand of government we freely give our land and all our resources to corporations built on rules laid down by emperors and kings so they may reward us with jackets and a token of the profit – or at least that was the way before they decided automation reduced our value.

Why?

What is it we believe? How can we possibly believe the destruction of mountains, rivers and oceans can be the way to a better future? Have we been hypnotized by aliens? I doubt it, beliefs are what is left when all else is gone, they can withstand such paltry attempts at dismissal. They are the things that define us. Body parts may come and go and beliefs change but in some form they are the life source for our minds – the bits that confirm we exist.

We use financial currencies owned and operated by a few ne’er-do-wells proper folk wouldn’t let in the house. When we pay our neighbor for his labor this arrogant lot of lost souls take a piece of the action as well as a little of every other transaction on the planet. We contribute to the system as it is deemed irresponsible otherwise. By Whom? What is wrong with us? It’s like a sideshow we choose to believe even though we know better.

Those wise people who mock Las Vegas gamblers for playing against such ridiculous odds proudly join in this system when the outcome is completely predetermined. It’s like our wiring has been altered; an entire planet based on Stepford. It would be sad if it wasn’t so tragic.

There are alternatives but don’t look to big banks, big government or big corporations. Think small, think community, think Grand Junction, Colorado (http://www.denverpost.com/television/ci_19922838). They benefit from a working solution because they identified the problem as theirs and took the initiative to resolve it. From flour mills to artistic paint makers cooperatives are defining the future and ensuring there will be one; at least for the members. Unfortunately most of us are waiting for government, banks and corporations to rescue us. From what? Them? They are too busy building palaces and castles on land that once belonged to us. They are who they are because we support them with every purchase, every loan, every dollar earned. If you want to see the biggest problem you face it can be found in a mirror near you.

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It’s interesting to spend time with naturally curious and resourceful individuals not educated through the approved channels; they are generally categorized as uneducated. In avoiding badges, credential and all forms of ordination they keep an open mind; that is generally categorized as ignorance. As they do not possess approved answers or the respected credential to express their ideas they must rely on personal experience and wit to derive solutions and maintain a sharp cunning for presenting them successfully. To benefit, others must be savvy enough to grasp their ideas rather than being dismayed with their lack of credential. Autodidacts choose their own reading, explore their own curiosities and have the initiative to follow the endless avenues that open before them. Like sailors in storms with no land in sight they must create solutions, not turn to ready-made, well-documented and studied methods. Roll playing the written words of others is simply not a viable option in the dangerous waters of guiding the future. A trip to the moon and staging a trip to the moon using collected information, despite appearances and production value, are just not the same.

Organic ignorance is fiercely independent; like a determined virus it adapts. It can survive the most rigorous of indoctrinations, impersonate the most radical of minds and use information technology to package historic thought as new and improved insights. But what happens to a society that can no longer hear what it hasn’t heard before? What happens to people who can only accept anticipated solutions?

When we moved from the judicious application of an ethic standard to amassing an unhinged currency as a measure of success, worth was no longer calculated by contribution but rather ROI and let’s face it, there is more money in selling an idea than having one. Educational institutions sell their product by association with success in the manner beer companies use popularity. The question is how much longer can we continue to sell ourselves old ideas in new packages? How much longer can we combine old technologies in slightly new ways and mount sales assaults celebrating the introduction of a whole new era for humanity? Have we run the course? Have we tied ourselves to corrupt and abused-beyond-repair fundamentals? We teach solutions as if there are such permanent things. There are no absolute solutions, there is only the hope and struggle for solution. Life is the search for solutions not the recording and worshiping of ideas that once worked by changing the world and in the process nullifying continued benefits of those ideas. Life is change – birth, death, the whole gamut. Teaching the ways of the past as the only way to the future is certain to ensure the participants will not be an instrument of it. Ironically, we need only look at history to see that.

Intelligence is as determined as ignorance, it can survive the most formal of education or the complete lack of it. It will always find the light amidst the darkness. I don’t know what goes into intelligence but self doubt and hope seem to play a role. Intelligence always seems to be accompanied by curiosity but never a litany of answers. If we would like to participate in the design of the future we need to learn to recognize intelligence and guide society accordingly. We need to get past our hubris and stop rewarding people for regurgitating old ideas. We need to stop asking students to limit themselves to gazing into our mirrors in search of the future.

We could increase our problem solving capabilities significantly if we would just accept qualifications as implied rather than stated.

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Functional illiterates may be better suited to the future than non-functional literates.

As the European debt crisis is so eloquently demonstrating savvy oratory doesn’t solve problems, it exacerbates them – it makes us believe in silly things reality simply doesn’t acknowledge. Farmers, on whom theorists depend, well know an inspired dissertation delivered to the most promising seeds doesn’t get the job done; life is very pragmatic and unflinching faced with theory. Gale force winds against a small boat on open water may go well with a smart Chardonnay while reading about it on the couch but in reality the situation is more likely to elicit a white-knuckled, unencumbered cry to the heavens for help without a single concern about split infinitives.

As I have beautiful wood that needs a stern lecture on becoming furniture and flour in need of a lesson on becoming bread I must now go help the world become a better place in the mind of one – literally.

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The connected world, operating at the speed of light, raises simple anecdote instantly to myth of biblical proportions while ensuring everyone ample choice. The speed is slow compared to gossip but its range eliminates all competition. Electronic communications over the last century has helped move western culture from a long entrenched monotheistic society to one with a cornucopia of gods and rituals sufficient to make the proliferation of Hindu gods seem complacent. We have sports gods, music gods, authors, etcetera. Simple rules for eating like don’t eat pork, shellfish, or neighbors have given way to health-felt concern not only for the food but the process of getting it to the table. Source, method, manpower, energy consumed, distance traveled and content such as protein, mineral, salt, fat and trans-fat are all factored in before food is served. Pleasure is precarious – data tells us so.

Serving dinner for other than like-minded friends demonstrates our new enlightenment. What was once a simple matter of rarely mentioned don’t likes and even a possible allergy or belief-based restriction has mushroomed into a fascinating assortment of can’t, won’t and canned lectures. Courtesy hasn’t a leg to stand on when food knowledge enters the room. This while the vast chasm in the world between those who suffer from available food and those who suffer from a lack of it gets wider.

If anything in any discipline requires irrefutable proof or disproof by fully qualified facts established through scientific studies you’re only a couple of keystrokes away from more information than anyone would ever read on the subject. The entire world has been modeled in words and even better it has been done in a manner suitable for every fanatical and financially viable variation. If you find one missing, check again in an hour or start a blog, it’s free and easy.

There appears to be a competition between practicing believers and preaching atheists for the most non-commercial content on the web. Atheism, the long form, is odd – it dedicates so much time and space to say the subject of all of this does not exist. Is there anyone more rigorous in their beliefs than an angst atheist? The message is delivered with a vehemence once reserved for doubtful but determined believers; which makes sense as it uses the same texts and beliefs with the exception of one external loop of authority. The text says God says has been shortened to the more comprehensive text says or studies prove.

Imagine if the same vitriol reserved for God was applied to Anne Shirley or Sherlock Holmes; you would quickly conclude the person was nuts; yet they are all only as real as the text makes them, they all influence the thoughts of millions of people profoundly. If I were going dedicate time to railing against an influential book character I would probably use one from Dickens. He really breathed life into his kinder-than-candy villains. Maligning Mr. Pecksniff has proven to be a satisfying and cleansing waste of time; he represents so many reprehensible people. You can’t say that about God unless, of course, you are exposed to a lot of environmentalists.

Who really gives a damn if people pay good money to join the Arthur Conan Doyle society or pay too much for a straw hat with red braids for their children or pets. More people seem to have recovered from the damage done to their families by traditional beliefs than by the promotion of a warm and enthusiastic embrace of greed. All things considered they have bigger fish to fry. They deserve a low-fat, low-sodium break today.

Maybe it’s time to try out a few new myths. You don’t have to make a commitment. Presently there are lots of great opportunities for divining your financial future; just watch your email or let your fingers do the walking on the web. The only things you have to remember is don’t take them too seriously and don’t send money. If you are going to invest in your future consider lowering expectations and raising an eyebrow for offers too good to be true. Don’t take everything you read as gospel and don’t email money to unknown ladies in distress (really fat men in underwear) who promise to dance with you at the end of a rainbow.

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Plagiarism in the information age may not be as it appears; it may just be successful marketing. Lines between information and personal thought are being blurred to such an extent in some cases they have been eliminated altogether. Entire articles are paraphrased with no hint of embarrassment or acknowledgment of the source even when features of general interest. What at first seemed odd has become commonplace – no distinction between new personal ideas and data – information and thoughts being treated as the same entity. That would be frightening if it wasn’t terrifying. Individuality, the ability to think for oneself, is being overpowered by electronic brainwashing selected for – not by – the unsuspecting victim; usually those just trying to find their place in a world too busy for them. It means our most personal thoughts, our deepest beliefs can be intentionally seeded, nurtured and harvested by those who control media. As oft been noted, big brother isn’t watching, he’s programming.

Ardent beliefs injected straight into our minds with little or no thought-filtering coupled with a concentration of media ownership could explain much about the polarization of our society. Like alcohol breaching our digestive system defenses to alter the brain, electronic sounds and images seem capable of penetrating our minds undetected to take control of the core of our being – beliefs. It has all the known signs of a bad habit (e-diction?) with the added attraction of low cost and no immediate hangover. Corporations couldn’t find a better addiction for the masses, it keeps us shopping and yet perky the next morning. To think it’s all brought to us by that same very exclusive group who own the media. (In the case of the United States, that same one percent of the American population with more financial control than ninety percent of the rest.) In the terms of Robert C. Tucker’s statement in 1992, “We have to recognize that cults are successful with techniques now being borrowed by other successful organizations: corporations and others in the power structure interested in how to get people into working for free, and totally motivated.” If it can be used as an alternative to drugs why can’t it be used to reduce stress and cure much of what ails us. Would that be too much of a community ideal with too little corporate coddling?

On many levels we become what we witness. With people spending their waking hours under the influence of programmed environments, greed may be accomplishing in wetware what seems dubious in software, artificial intelligence – eliminating discern-ability between programming and thinking. For those of us in a perpetual sea of electronic stimuli our biological systems may well be on their way to working like a computer BIOS, once booted up for the day, instructions are loaded that make us function as the programmers intended – a Turing machine where a mind should be.

The next time you feel the urge to reprimand someone wearing the latest in electronic fashion for plagiarism you may want to consider an offer of deprogramming instead; under all that data there just may be a thought.

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