Aliens, devil, God Bless America, honesty, Politics, television, the rest of us, Uncategorized

The “O” is for Oligarchy

They are the voice of the few, the proud, the billionaires.

The whole thing is fuckin’ brilliant. Rupert Murdoch emigrates to America from Australia, has a look around and realizes that there are a bunch of disaffected people who feel left out, have watched the great jobs they or their parents once had evaporate all around them, who are angry and looking for something to direct that anger, who are what he even refers to as “low information voters,” and who are ripe for the picking, and so Rupert picks away. Murdoch is at one level a genius and another P.T. Barnum.

Murdoch knew these things to be true:

  • If people want to be angry, it’s very easy to make them angrier.
  • Angry people are very easy to weaponize.
  • Enemies are necessary.
  • If you distract people, you can pick their pockets and those of their children and their children’s children.
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition is what many people will come to believe, truth or no truth.
  • Accuse the opposition of what you’re doing. It creates a dissonance that affects both sides. Think: “Fake News”.

Oh, and wrap it in a flag, keep underfunding education, and voila! The Oligarchs get richer and richer at the expense of regular American individuals and families, even those who’ve been weaponized (otherwise regular Americans) in their war against regular Americans. That’s the genius part.

FOX began with that “no bullshit,” “we tell it like it is” attitude right out of the gate. People liked that. And FOX dumbed everything down, simplified, spoke only in terms of black and white, and repeated beliefs, ideas, slogans, taglines, nicknames over and over.  And FOX had the incredible audacity to refer to itself as “fair and balanced.” Who knew a mostly biased news source could refer to itself as fair and balanced and people would buy into that? The genius, and the one-born-every-minute guy.

So instead of people watching the news to learn why we have new healthcare programs, how they work, who they help, how they are paid for and all the rest, they watch news that tells them that the new healthcare programs are made up by crazy liberals who are out to hurt them and give them worse care for more money, take away their choices, freedoms, guns, whatever. “Death Panels” was all they had to say, and like a flash of lightening, the viewership all turned and never turned back. Why not? That is so much easier to understand than the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act, and so the “low information voter” keeps it simple and remains low on information, but even better for FOX and the Oligarchs, now has “fake” information to replace it and a bucketload of anger and hate around the issue to hurl at their supposed enemies.

Vladimir Putin’s main aim in his work online here in the U.S. is to drive wedges between Americans, to create more anger, strife and misunderstanding, because a divided country is a weak country, and Russia wants nothing more than a weak America.

At FOX, everyone (other than themselves and their viewers) is the enemy – liberals, immigrants, black people, Chinese people, the media, scientists, teachers, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, queers, kneeling football players, gun law advocates and on and on. This keeps the FOX news watchers back on their heels. There is always another outrage to get pissed off about – an outrage that strikes to their very livelihood. These people are trying to take this away from you! FOX knows well enough to frame everything as an us versus them issue. People love having enemies.

Who’s the enemy du jour? Think of the recent Chloroquine issue as it relates to COVID 19.  FOX talks about this as if liberals and scientists want to keep it from FOX News viewers, whereas the real people who don’t want everyone taking this are, yes, scientists (they understand the dangers – this thing has not been tested) and the people who actually do need the drug for other reasons. They don’t need a run on a drug they truly depend on by a bunch of people fooled by FOX.

What the FOX viewer is expected to think is that, for some unfathomably vile reason, liberals and scientists want people to die unnecessarily – those people being the FOX viewers who want the Chloroquine. Liberals want to keep it from them so they die.

If this wasn’t something that happens on FOX every day, it would cause real outrage. Imagine, in a more rational world, one group of people in a nation (with a giant media corporation behind them) claiming another group would rather they die than allow them access to a drug that would save their lives, with fake and stupidly wrong information as proof. We would all be calling for, and receiving, a huge apology from the network. Editors would be fired.

Yeah, not here in the 21st Century with FOX News. They made that shit up, and they know it doesn’t matter if they did.

FOX is powerful stuff. Their viewers are in deep with their emotions; they are angry, appalled and righteous because FOX tells them over and over that they are right. That righteous anger is a huge buzz. The brain goes nuts, fight or flight is on high alert, the sense of entitlement ramps up and a good zinger against any of the many enemies releases a flood of serotonin that makes the FOX viewer feel even more righteous and satisfied and downright stoned. And so they come back for more and more and more. Like my twelfth trip to the liquor cabinet back in the day.

This is what toying with people’s emotions really means, plain manipulation. FOX tells the viewers what to think, but more importantly, they tell them what to feel.

I don’t have any answers. My discussions with FOX News watchers quickly devolve into FOX talking points, ergo, often bald-faced lies. When I point that out and show them absolute proof that they are wrong, they devolve further to: “Fake News,” “I don’t believe it,” “That’s not what I heard,” etc. Faced with being actually factually wrong, they punch their heads into the ground and basically just yell, “La La La La La!”

The left has some of this also with MSNBC, but if this is an arms race, MSNBC is firing a BB gun at FOX’s aircraft carrier.

There was a Simpson’s episode years back in which for some reason the televisions stopped working in the town and so there’s a scene where all the pale and weakly kids come out on their front stoops, shielding their eyes and are looking around as if they just landed on a different planet. Of course, they are soon having a blast together out in the street.

This could happen here if FOX news would just be kind enough to go off the air for a couple of weeks. Probably not. The Australians need to keep sucking money out of the United States and the FOX viewers, as does the Republican Party (who I’ve not mentioned so much but is the true beneficiary of FOX News) and also the Oligarchs (a lot of overlap there).

I’ve argued that the Australian multi-billionaire and owner of FOX News, Rupert Murdoch, is the most powerful man in American politics and I honestly still believe that is true. What FOX News has done through misinformation, manipulation, repetition, fake news, fake patriotism and all the rest has been a thousand times more detrimental to this Democracy than anything little Vladimir Putin can do from over there.

But they use the same game plan and want the same outcomes so does it really even matter? The billionaires, the oligarchs, the powerful republicans will ultimately make a shitload of money off the coronavirus and move more of the nation’s wealth to the very few.

More for them. Less for you. Think outside the FOX.

US_Wealth_Inequality_-_v2

CBO Chart, U.S. Holdings of Family Wealth 1989 to 2013. The top 10% of families held 76% of the wealth in 2013, while the bottom 50% of families held 1%. Inequality worsened from 1989 to 2013. Fox News started in 1996 and while we can’t claim a straight causation, the incredible redistribution of America’s wealth from the rest of us to the top 10% grows right along with FOX News viewership.

 

 

 

 

Aliens, aminimals, art, As it should be, beauty, Civics, common human decency, cool, God Bless America, honesty, kids, la musica, nature, poetry

The Dubstep Show

Okay, so the dubstep show. That was trippy. And I wasn’t even tripping. I had no idea that happened. Picture these young folk with an array of colorful, brightly lit baubles and bangles, hula hoops and hats, glowballs and whatnot, much of which they swung around in slow sometimes erratic orbits in an otherwise mostly dark room.

They wore big furry bear hats, and sometimes that was about it. They wore footy pajamas with hoods. They even wore beaded masks. I’m not sure what that was all about but it was rather disconcerting mostly because it must be complicated to breathe, let alone drink. And they had gloves with lighted fingertips that they wiggled around in front of other dubsteppers faces like some crazed magician.

The deejays pounded out music with their fists in the air. I couldn’t tell exactly what else they were doing up there. A lot of dancing and then stopping to work on something on a table in front of them. But the music pounded the people and the people jumped up and down ecstatically. The ones toward the back, the really trippy ones, mostly just spun around in circles – often well-lit as well.

But it was cool! Kind of Build-A-Bear meets Cabaret Voltaire cool, but cool like that! I wanna go again – and be almost the oldest guy there. There was an elderly gentleman in a straw hat with a handful of glow stick bracelets on each wrist. He rocked back and forth in the middle of the crowd. I was proud.

Aliens, aminimals, common human decency, devil, honesty, SCIENCE!, Seriously sad, The Future, trouble, truth

Can Sir, Ruiner, Please Leave Us Alone?

I found out tonight that another person I know and love dearly has cancer. What the fuck? What is this cancer shit? It’s like some alien blob that just invades a person and pops up wherever the fuck it wants to. Then it becomes, and I mean this in no disrespect, like the trouble with tribbles. It breeds like sex-addicted bunnies and it’s all over the place! Leave us alone, cancer! And it’s so indiscriminate! Wouldn’t it be sweet if it took out only the evil? The greedy, the killers, the racists and the rapists? That’s what cancer should actually be – some sort of cosmic punisher. Like someone would say, shit, I have cancer and you could then ask, what the fuck did you do that was truly evil? And they’d have to admit it and make amends, change their entire way of life, and then, and only then, would cancer go into remission. See, that would make sense about cancer. But the way it is now, cancer is its own evil. Preying on whomever – the most innocent, the average, the amazing, and also, sometimes, the evil. And there’s no remission based on the lives, actions, and intentions of the victims. Cancer is stupid and yet apparently smarter than we are. You folks want to believe in a devil? You got it. Cancer. Now we’ve got to find a real god to banish cancer to the depths of hell and beyond. To never rear its ugly head again. God bless you, PB.

Aliens, aminimals, God Bless America, honesty, revolution, the rest of us, truth

Black Thursday? No.

I feel like I should say something about Black Friday starting on Thursday. It’s anti-family, anti-Thanksgiving, anti-American, and pro-conspicuous consumption for people who honestly think they’ll save a few bucks, while good people have to leave Thanksgiving dinner and their families for some small number of fools who’ll think they’ll save those few bucks on some piece of electronics, that, and I have it on good information, is sub par garbage that is made by sub par companies that is re-branded as whatever the fools think they’re buying. That 50 inch Panasonic TV is made by some crap company just to fill this pathetic need that doesn’t exist but for the rush for Black Friday Door Buster savings. You lose, the workers and their families lose, we all lose. Stay home and love the people you love. Get up as early on Black Friday as you want, but don’t encroach on Thanksgiving Day. Unless you hate the people who are manning the cash registers and floors of the stores you charge into. You think you save a few bucks, but they and their families’ get fucked. And ultimately so do you.

Aliens, aminimals, art, Civics, honesty, meditation, nature, ourselves, The Past, The Present, truth, weather

all quiet on the western front

You know you have those books you were supposed to read but you never did – the great big classics – Moby Dick, anything by Tolstoy, some great early feminist novel, but you never did and while you feel some sort of guilt, you also know that there are a billion books and you cannot be expected to know all of them and if someone wants to call you out on one book then screw ‘em.

That being said, you absolutely HAVE TO READ “All Quiet on the Western Front.” I was obliquely aware of it and especially in the praise of it. I knew it was a “war novel” and while I’ve enjoyed novels with war in them, I was no aficionado. But still it was impressed upon me that this book was IMPORTANT. And it is.

I finally nabbed it from my mother’s bookshelf while we were preparing her move and eventually picked it up to actually read. A slim little book so I figured, might’s well have at it.

This book has changed my life. I think I needed to be transported through amazing language to the dirty, wet, filthy, angry, bloody, stinky, trenches of war. This book does that. And while I know that modern warfare is different, I can only assume that many of the same emotions and fears and bewilderment that Erich Maria Remarque felt are also felt by terribly young, modern soldiers as well. War is war.

It stopped me in my tracks. I always knew war was bad and opposed it mostly as again, a modern, basically aware man, but this flung it all right up into my perfectly safe – thanks to soldiers, and diplomats, and peaceniks, and generally good people – face. I know I can’t know what any soldier in the blaze of war goes through, but this guy gives you a pretty fucking good idea in this book. And to say, it ain’t pretty, would be pantywaist’s clever turn of a phrase. It’s blood ugly.

It shames a person for so many reasons; we’re part of the humanity who creates these situations, we make war. But also because I’ve never had to experience what the soldiers do – not the fucking generals, by the way – but the frontline slugs. I’ve always been basically physically perfectly safe, I’ve never lacked a meal or something to eat, alcohol is always available and affordable. But not for these guys; not at all.

A piece of bread, a sip of cognac is everything. Especially after a day of shelling and explosions, dismemberment and splashing blood, looking into the eye of the man you are about to kill. That’s the cutting edge of life, at its worst.

I read much of this in a comfortable chair overlooking a glistening Lake Superior, safe and sound. But read a book that struck the fear of our manmade devils right into my heart.

 

As it should be, beauty, Civics, common human decency, devil, honesty, Information, kids, nature, ourselves, poetry, Politics, revolution, SCIENCE!, Seriously sad, The Future, The Present, the rest of us, trouble, truth

Nice Windows

So there’s quite the kerfuffle about Pope Francis bagging a bit on the childless couples who act like their dogs and/or cats are even remotely decent substitutes. And I get that that is maybe a bit old school Catholic style. But I’m right there with him! I’m so tired of my childless friends talking about this new restaurant or that great band they saw. Screw that! How about you procreate – as we were all meant to do! That’s the only reason why you’re on this earth – the only real reason! Everything else is window dressing! That pottery you do? Whatever. The music you make? Fun, but ultimately pointless. All those great art shows? You wouldn’t miss them if you never saw them.

And yet the rest of us – the beaten and down-trodden who carry the future of the world on our shoulders and our credit cards – double-down, the women go through the amazing sacrifice of giving birth and the two of us (hopefully) feel the tectonic shift beneath our feet and realize that one now true truth: It’s no longer about me any more, it’s all about you. I live for someone else.

And you with your hip concerts and surprise trips to Costa Rica! You with your spotless houses and planned dinners! You with your facebook posts about all the kidless fun you’re having! You!

Have you ever cupped your hands to catch the puke of a little girl? Realized long after changing a diaper that you had poop beneath your fingernail? Have you ever listened to the banal goings on of a six-year-old orator on a car trip for 2.75 hours? NO, YOU HAVE NOT! And even if you have you could leave the little pains in the ass behind when you head home to your great new awesome HBO series binge-a-thon!

Yeah, I’m jealous. Really jealous. You got it made. I’m screwed. But you got to admit I got it right with the whole evolution thing. Crap out kids – the genetic coupling, halving yourself. Passing on the genes. Only the strong survive. That’s the only real reason we’re here. The rest is window dressing.

But I got to admit that your windows look awesome, god damn it.

art, As it should be, beauty, common human decency, cool, honesty, Information, poetry, SCIENCE!, The Future, The Past, The Present, the rest of us, truth

06.17.14

Happy Birthday, Dad. You’d be 83. I graduated in 82 – not sure there’s a connection there, but I like numbers so I see something obliquely significant. The universe works on numbers – physics – so maybe that’s where we need to look to look beyond our insignificance.

83 years on this planet has to be a win. I know it is as a dedicated Sunday obituary reader. I see the numbers – the ages – the multitudes in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and now 90s, so I know that lasting into the land of the octogenarian is a win.

A win for you and a win for all of us. To love someone and then have them for so long is exactly what we live for. Early deaths are tears in our lives, our families and our psyches. They serve a purpose – they remind us of the fragility of it all, but they rip at our souls. Old deaths show purpose. They remind us of the reasons we fight to stay alive – not only for us but for the people we love, and more importantly, who love us.

We loved you – love you, but the distinction is profound. I’ve yet to pick up your ashes. I know they’re perfectly safe where they are and I really don’t know what on earth to do with them, despite our plans to do something earthly with them.

I’ll never forget the births of my children. That’s about as profound a moment as you can experience. Everything about me dissipated. It was now entirely about them. All selfish desires went from life to just plain selfish. But then again, it is about me and how I live my life for them. You did that for me. You lived your life to make certain we were provided for. Not that you didn’t live your life for you, you did! But underlying whatever you did was the knowledge that you had us and would provide for us and then make certain we lived our own lives.

Well done, old man! Happy Birthday! Your birth led to mine and your mind made certain I lived a good life. I am working – struggling – to do the same for my kids. It’s a struggle, you know/knew that. But it’s worth it. For living for yourself is one thing, living for others is a multitude of things.

Aliens, art, As it should be, beauty, common human decency, honesty, ourselves, poetry, revolution, The Future, The Past, the rest of us, truth, Uncategorized

Tell it like it is

My dad’s obit appeared today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and the Sioux City Journal and will also appear in the Lake County Chronicle on Thursday. What does that mean? Our little final story will hit three papers near to where he’s most recently lived and soon one where he really recently lived.

I’ve read the obituaries every Sunday for the last 25 years of my life. Since I was 25, I guess. I don’t know what got me into that habit, but the habit I got. It’s become a ritual for me because I find myself wanting to know who’s dying. And more than that, and here’s how most obituaries so fail, why. I was certain to mention what ailed my father before he died because I think it’s terribly important. An obituary without a cause of death is just a greeting card. With a cause of death, it’s a statement of fact.

We, the living, need to see what’s killing the rest of us – no matter how awful or what we think wrongly is embarrassing. It’s the truth that we need to recognize together. There’s no shame. Suicide or aneurysm or cancer or car accident. The truth of the matter is what matters. It’s what will touch us to be aware of what is killing the rest of us. Lewy Body Dementia isn’t pretty, but I’ve now heard from others that have loved ones that suffer similarly. That’s good. Because they find solace in the diagnosis, reason and love. And shared experience.

When I read those that do tell the whole truth, I feel alive. When I read those that don’t, I’m not sure exactly how to feel. Yes, I revel in a life well lived, but beyond that it’s what behind door number one. You guess. But you could never possibly figure it out.

Death by any means is noble – whether it is an old woman dying in her sleep at 95 surrounded by family or a young person suffering from mental illness who commits suicide. It’s entirely equal and important. Obituaries need to spell it out and allow us to respond as human beings. Even a suicide bomber. We should know that, see who they were and who loved them, and we’ll be that much closer to knowing what causes something so hideous, and maybe be there to affect such a decision in the future.

But that is extreme. What about the rest of us and all the diseases and accidents that take us out of this life? The more we know, the more we can understand and be prepared and aware. Cancer, stroke, old age, [insert that which killed your loved one here] – let the people know. Let them know what took this great person’s life so they, the rest of us, can be aware with the ones we love.

We hear statistics, trends, numbers, chances, but they’re just that. Not human beings, but numbers. Give the body a reason. Give the people a chance to understand and maybe respond. All death is noble, if we take the time to understand why. Life is what we’re living, death is not just a concept, it’s more true than you can ever be yet. Tell it like it is. Let that be your favor to the future.