Thursday, January 26, 2017


When one thinks about it, the science fiction writers are really the only people -- despite all the mystic mumbo-jumbo of the millennia -- who have effectively predicted the future. Bradbury, alone, predicted the big screen TV and ear buds in his Fahrenheit 451.

I have seen the storm clouds for years now and I have referenced them in many posts. One of the things I have seen is that Orwell's predictions have begun to come true. Maybe he should have called the novel 2017 instead of 1984, though it would not have been as neatly poetic for a book written in 1948.

But we should not make the mistake of thinking that Donald Trump is the problem, here. Once again, he is the symptom; the symptom of a world that has allowed itself to use misinformation as a tool and to become its own Big Brother. We, the people, are the entity that shuts down dissent. We are the ones who are now condemning, say, peaceful protest. We are the ones who swarm, like ants over melting chocolate, over those who don't agree. All a power-hungry administration needs to do now is to jump on the wave.

So, Orwell was right, he just did not see all of the picture. The populace are the grass-roots of the Big Brother government. We have become an entity that is willing to smother the  individual; to accept and even to encourage misinformation when that misinformation serves our purposes. In other words, it isn't that Big Brother forced us to our knees; it is that we have become mentally lazy and even willingly deceived/deceptive when it comes to facts. Perfect timing for a less-than-honest administration to show up; like a bird of prey exploiting the weakness of a dying desert animal.
"For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?” -- Orwell, 1984
It seems to me that the  mind is most controllable when it allows itself to be. Yes, it can be broken when it is strong, but why not just do it when the time is right; when our innate sense of truthfulness is in flux; when the paradigms we have depended on forever are crumbling around us?

Is 2+2, 5? Well, it sure as heck has been for a long time. But, what if we call the numbers something different? What if the first number two identifies more as a seven? What if we decide that the equation only works if the numbers represent similar things?  What if we don't really think 2+2 equals five, but we are wide open to discussion about the idea because the person who thinks it is is scary? -- or can hook us up with things we want? -- or shames us into saying we believe it? -- or threatens what we love if we don't agree?

Welcome to 2017. We need to not be Winston; we need to be Captain Picard. If there are four lights, there are four  lights, come hell or tsunami.

Help the world. Share this. Use this hash tag: #read1984now.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Garbage In; Garbage Out

It's rare, but things can be simple. Like, some kids grew up on lyrics like Neil Peart's words to the song "Grand Designs":

A to B --
Different degrees...
 So much style without substance
So much stuff without style
It's hard to recognize the real thing
It comes along once in a while
Like a rare and precious metal
Beneath a ton of rock
It takes some time and trouble
To separate from the stock
You sometimes have to listen to
A lot of useless talk
Shapes and forms
Against the norms -- 
....So much poison in power
The principles get left out
So much mind on the matter
The spirit gets forgotten about
Like a righteous inspiration
Overlooked in haste
Like a teardrop in the ocean
A diamond in the waste
Some world-views are spacious --
And some are merely spaced
Against the run of the mill
Static as it seems
We break the surface tension
With our wild kinetic dreams
Curves and lines --
Of grand designs... 

Other kids grow up with lyrics like those of today's country hits, like these, from Jason Aldean's in-depth philosophical treatise on Friday night throw-downs,"Light's Come On":

You’re a crack-of-dawn, Monday-morning (coffee strong)
Poured everything you got into a paycheck Friday night
You’re a plow with stroke diesel, backhoe-riding king of beers, 18-wheeler
(Driving, living life in between the lines)
Of clocking in and quitting time…
But then the six-string circus comes to town
We hang them speakers over the crowd
When the lights come on, everybody’s screaming
Lighters in the sky, yeah, everybody’s singing
Every word to every song to a girl to take it home tonight
When the lights come on, everybody’s feeling
A hallelujah high from the floor to the ceiling
Yeah, the drink that we’re drinking, the smoke that we’re smoking
The party we throw, it’s going all night long

I'll let you work out what the results are/could be. If you listen/listened to lyrics like the first example, you should be fine. If the second, feel free to email me for a handy list of interpretive guidelines.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Of January, 20, 2017 and Matthew 1, 8:6

As we approach the inauguration of soon-to-be President Trump, I hear the conversation shifting. I hear people chastising others for hoping Trump will fail; saying that if he fails we all suffer. True, I suppose.

I hope he brings us joy and prosperity. But, in fact I have no idea how he will actually do as President. In the end, I don't much care. I am dubious as to how much good or harm one man -- even the most powerful man in the country -- can do. I think that when a president does well, it is a combination of his efforts, the efforts of the rest of the government officials, the efforts and choices of the populace and of the circumstances of his given historical time. So, Trump could well be the president when things go well or he could be the president when things go due south on a jetski.

But, as I say, I really don't care. It is in the hands of fate (and of both the good and bad, hard-fighting elected officials) now.

What I do care about is that Trump's damage will be bigger than what he does as president. He is already a symptom of a dying culture. He is already a sign that any sense of manners, propriety and class are fading out of the American consciousness.

Now, our children will have a crass, loudmouthed, misogynistic egomaniac as their president. He is now the symptom of a societal sickness; on January 20th, he will become the cause of further decline. He is a bad example for our kids; for our people and for the world.

For me, it is not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with his politics. No, I really don't want to play the fiddle with a smile of self satisfaction on my face while Rome burns. But you will never hear me say that Trump is a good president. Not unless he becomes, all of a sudden, a gentleman. (For God's sake -- not, at least, until her pretends to be one, like some of his predecessors did. No, I am not kidding. It's like the difference between the student who fails but at least pretends his studied so as to show the teacher some modicum or respect... )

For a nut like me, being a gentleman is important. For a nut like me, sports figures and celebrities do have a responsibility to be role models. So, especially, does the President of the United States.

I know many Christians voted for him. I'd like to remind him of Jesus's words, in Matthew 1, 8:6:

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

Trump has shown us all dishonesty; a lack of compassion and a disregard of feeling for the unfortunate. His business practices are questionable, to say the least. He shuts down questions by raising his voice. He openly seeks to suppress truth by working to circumvent answering the press. He is a poor example for our kids. 

If we see a new era of prosperity, I will not change my opinion. Wealth is not cultural prosperity -- not all of it, anyway. Art, collegiality, manners, compassion, kindness...these are the things that foster prosperity. We can become a country of 98% millionaires under this administration and not become the least bit dearer in the eyes of God; or in the eyes of any gentleman or true lady; or in the eyes of history. 

To me, a "great" America is one in which respect and comportment are the currency of daily social commerce. Trump only knows one kind of currency. (If only we knew if he pays his taxes on it. as we have done with every other president...)