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Archive for the ‘Unrequited Opinion’ Category

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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Everyone has an opinion or at least something to say about art. While some art has been blamed for inducing drowsiness, the slightest possibility of performing a tirade against velvet paintings has been known to bring back the dead. (Shouldn’t something that stirs such rich emotion be considered art? Surely a good idea expressed on any surface is more captivating than yet more rusty stuff celebrated on canvas.) Art is, of course, anything we want it to be; baseball, eating, painting (walls, canvases, velvet undies), even Hollywood movies.

One way or another art is part of everything from fart to cream cheese so conversationally it is completely unavoidable. The resulting exchanges have probably contributed more to gurning contests than the English, more to publishing than reason and more to social discernment than Gucci. Serious discussions about art are to people what sniffing is to dogs; it establishes rank and order (I confirmed this with my dog) so it is incredibly important to know what to like and dislike based on the group in which membership is crucial. Expressing a poorly researched opinion is to be beastly in proper circles.

I admit to having difficulty with the bureaucracy of art; it should be inclusive, not exclusive. Pianists, painters, pitchers, etcetera calling themselves artists should strive for a second opinion, if for no other reason than appearances. It’s like referring to yourself as a great lover, even if true it sounds better coming from someone else. Art is a shared experience akin to using a phone; for it to be really good there must be someone else involved. (If an artist paints a canvas in the woods and no one else sees it…you get the picture.) Expression, whether by writing, singing or sketching on the other hand can most often best be enjoyed alone. This, I suppose, is analogous to talking to yourself or talking to yourself on the phone.

Art in the western world defines us more than anything else. It starts with a thought usually, progresses to a desire to have that thought understood by others, builds to a concept the poet, plate spinner or whomever envisions as appropriate for the perfect statement describing the new but equally timeless insight and then the thoughtful person executes it. From there it goes to phase two, the presentation stage where the intentionally subjective interpretation is met with objective opinions (if objective opinion is not an oxymoron it should be) based on learned biases of well-healed professionals…and potentially a second execution. If it survives trial by pomp it becomes a full-blown, valuable (or in cases of extreme success invaluable) commodity. When a gallery owner says “words can’t capture it” he’s telling you more money than you have can.

Art (the proper stuff), like tax dollars and wine is controlled by bureaucrats; people we have come to trust because they tell us to. Interesting art, the bits that still speak to life about life in a way only unrepentant and beguiling innocence can, is created everyday. It is dependably condemned by those who have found themselves and their friends utterly fascinating since passing puberty in high school.

Don’t let the immodest charades and tiresome soliloquies of purchased opinion ruin your pleasure; it is hollowness that makes them resonate. Choose what you like, enjoy it with a nice glass of homemade beer. Take a walk on the wild side, express yourself with all the strings, brass, brushes, pens and emotion you can muster; chances are no one will ever find out.

Throughout the world death is determined in different ways; some places it’s a stopped heart, others loss of brain activity, for many a prolonged lack of movement will suffice. In the world of art you’re dead when you can no longer mount impassioned spittle-flying attacks on unqualified offerings. Harsh criticism it seems is imperative to the bitter end for claiming one’s rightful place in the critical mass.

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Everyday we are angered to find ourselves in slow moving traffic in our high speed horseless carriages sitting next to drivers we wouldn’t trust to operate a vacuum cleaner in a large room with a small fireplace. Why? Would we rather be driven completely mad than suffer the stigma of using high-speed public transportation? Have we already been driven completely mad?

We pay out hard-earned dollars, find our way to airports to be shuffled about like ornery meat, then stuffed into very small spaces on airplanes just to start a vacation filed away with thousands of others on a cruise ship. We do all this without a concern in the world about the debilitating crowding…but travel on a more spacious commuter train…no,no,no, too crowded.

We buy vegetables from half way around the world, cars from other continents, meat from other hemispheres, fish caught off our shores and flown back to us in packaging we used to make without a worry in the world about any of it making sense to our future.

Petroleum-fired automobiles are anachronistic, plane travel has become diabolical and shipping everything from everywhere else serves only multinationals at great cost to the employed as well as creating much of the unemployment and urban decay. Economic collapse isn’t being done to us, we vote for it with every penny pinching purchase. We need to sober up, the party is over. It’s obvious, oil is irresponsibly cheap due in large part to being subsidized by our tax dollars. It is enabling captains of industry to ship our jobs to other continents and hemispheres while bringing finished goods back to us; catering to their addiction to greed in the process. Cheap oil is good for the economy but it is hell on wheels for people. If fuel prices were increased exponentially we would go back to buying from our neighbors and them from us. There would definitely be a difficult adjustment but considering the options would that really be so bad? We could no longer afford to save a couple of bucks made possible through the use of poorly-treated, over-worked children on distant shores, the shipping would make it too expensive. (We are so tolerant of such despicable treatment of children we actually reward it! Who have we become? How would we feel if our children were treated like that? Keep going and they soon will be.)

Buying locally allows for personal consideration. If you wanted a special bread made with flour from the local mill or a variation on the regular Nicaraguan fair trade coffee roast you could just ask at the local shop. That would be nice wouldn’t it? We could get seafood from the Gulf again as oil production would be reduced, eventually allowing life to return.

Low oil prices are being used to benefit global corporations by taking advantage of appalling conditions and dreadful wages for millions of people spread over the entire planet – and all of this while costing us our jobs. We are not only enslaving others, we are nickel and diming our children into the same inescapable situation. Refugees aren’t trying to come here to be us they are trying to escape abhorrent conditions. If we could help farmers and labourers escape exceedingly difficult conditions in their homeland they could have homes and communities there that would be as attractive to them as ours were to us. We can do it by paying them directly and fairly for things we cannot produce. We just have to treat people as we would have them treat us when they have all the wealth and we have all the hardship. It’s hardly a new idea and yet if we don’t act, its time will come.

Our society…our children are going to pay a large and long term ethical and financial premium for us getting cheap prices. And yet we don’t even seem to care.

Just when did we go off the rails?

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