I don’t have a television, so I can’t watch the local news. It’s unfortunate. I miss out, I’m sure. I have little doubt that today I’m missing out on the STORM OF THE CENTURY!! There are pitiful snowflakes mixed with rain coming down in Portland. It’s barely at freezing and there isn’t enough precipitation to create any snow of any substance, but I’ll bet anything the local news stations have camped out at the highest elevations, looking for that razor thin layer of snow to indicate it’s sticking and a tiny flurry of flakes in order to justify standing outside in their perfectly matched snow bunny outfits to warn us all about the STORM OF THE CENTURY!! They probably also found some moron who drove too fast on a curve and whacked into a tree to warn us just how “dangerous it is out there, Bob, and back to you.” And back at the station, “Yes, be very careful. This storm will cause very dangerous conditions. Very dangerous. The world is full of danger. Watch out. Don’t go out.” It must be thrilling for the local newscasters to live in a state where snow is a major news item. They’d poop their drawers if anything ever really did happen. I guess they would be prepared.
Lately, as the days have shrunk further into darkness, and I feel even stronger the urge to settle deep into the comforters and down rather than getting up and moving around, ideas flicker in and out of my mind. Clever ideas. Interesting ideas. Ideas I used to write and percolate and develop and turn into something for publication. And yet I realized that I haven’t published anything in a really long time. I haven’t written anything in a really long time, at least nothing creative for myself. Oh, I’ve written work briefs and motions, but certainly nothing clever or interesting, and these lack even the slightest modicum of creativity. I used to write all the time. Little tidbits here and there would develop fully into ideas worth pursuing. I’ve been lamenting this, believing it is having a toddler and a 12 year old and a job and being a single mom and all that. But I did all this writing before while parenting and working and being a single mom. I didn’t have the baby while I was doing this, but I had a lot more dogs, so I probably broke even in the busy department. Really I can’t honestly blame these things. It’s something else. I had an inkling, but the idea never really germinated into a full fledged acceptance as to the reason for this creative apathy.
Then yesterday, a magazine I subscribe to arrived in the mail. I was sitting at our dining room table and the mail slid through the slot in the wall next to the table. Ah, reading material, I thought with a gleam in my eye. I’m something of a reading addict. I barely spend a moment without some grouping of words nearby to fill my brain. The New Yorker is my favorite. It comes frequently enough and with enough material to satisfy. This was another, Poets & Writers. I’ve only recently subscribed and this was my second issue. The first issue brought me a useful article, something I had been thinking about and needed confirmation about from another source. The second had something useful is well. Good subscription choice, I thought to myself.
The cover proclaimed all sorts of stories that dealt with this issue I’ve been facing of never writing much anymore, never developing these creative ideas that flit in and out of my brain like sparrows flying through the treetops but never landing. I immediately turned to the page with the article and read the author’s description of me. He isn’t a working single mother, but he is a working writer father and he has been for some time. It wasn’t this life that was sucking away his creative force, it was the internet, and the iPhone, and Facebook, and all these millions of distractions. He described how so many writers have to work on computers disconnected from all this connection to get any work done. Oh, ah ha! my brain cried. This is it.
I knew this. It was when I got the iPhone that my productivity slowed to a crawl. Since Facebook was added to the iPhone, my productivity has all but ceased. I used to write at least a blog post a day, sometimes even more. I haven’t done that in so long I can’t even remember. Now I have an idea, I might write it as a status update on Facebook, and then that’s all there is to it. On to the next thing. Nothing germinates. Nothing grows. Nothing becomes fully formed. And most of the time I don’t even bother getting to writing down the point because I open the Facebook and see an article, read the article, pass the article on, then read the next article, or the next status update of a friend, respond or share, then on. Then it’s 48 minutes later, I’ve done nothing of lasting creative effect, nothing that satisfies, and the time to do it is gone.
I have been feeling a strange, how do you say it? Dissatisfaction. Yes, that’s it. I’ve been feeling dissatisfaction with my iPone lately. Even before reading this article, I’ve been annoyed with the thing. The flat screen drives me to distraction. I’m constantly bumping it and doing something like calling a client who recently called me, and who I did not want to talk to. I rapidly hang up and hope my number didn’t show up on their screen. Or I’ll graze the glass with my wrist and bring up stock quotes. Who the fuck cares about stock quotes? Damn, that is one feature on an iPhone I’ll bet 99% of us could give a shit about. Seriously Jobs, most of us don’t care. I’ve been longing for buttons. I want to feel the satisfying click click under my fingertips as I dial or type something. And then there is the pain in my arm and wrist from typing on my iPhone. It hurts. All the time. My right arm has golf elbow from using the damn thing.
Ooh, I just realized I spent the last half hour writing instead of surfing Facebook. I might not have been writing anything clever or creative, but it wasn’t surfing uselessness, so that’s a start.
In any case, my iPhone has been giving me fits and I’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of it and getting just a phone. The thought gives me a panic. It reminds me of going to Europe. The first couple of days when I could not access the data portion of my phone, I had these mini panics. It’s like some portion of my brain has come to depend on the instant gratification of looking and seeing that no one has called me. No one has emailed me. Oh yes. I got the same political emails I get every day. They are a let down. It’s like waiting for the phone to ring when you have a crush on someone, then discovering a salesperson on the other end of the line. All these things we’ve created for instant gratification when it comes to contact from our friends. Even in Facebook, the first thing I go to is the little red number in the top-right-hand corner of my iPhone to see what the notifications are. Was it someone actually writing to me? Oh no. Just someone liking a link. What a shame.
I’ve got to get off this train. I have to somehow disengage from this iPhone and internet dragging me away from my creative work. Even this morning, when I first sat down to do this, the WordPress page beckoned with its many new features. I wanted to surf away and figure out what they are. Distractions. Distractions all. Artists forever have had to deal with distractions, but never before, I think, have these distractions been so available and insistent. Even more discipline is required to keep them at bay. I can’t stop the job. I can’t push away my children. But I can work around them as needed–Like right now, Isabel awakened because of my fake sunlight lamp, crawled into my lap, and started nursing. I can type around that.
But I’m going to have to force myself to ignore the lure of the iPhone and the Facebook and the Internets. They will suck out my brain if I’m not careful. They already have, to some extent. I have these ideas percolating and dribbling and wanting expression. I’ve thought of so many ideas for my book I can’t even begin to count. TextEdit has several pages of notes where I’ve jotted something down, but then I haven’t gotten back into the habit of writing every night. I was doing it religiously before we went to Europe, and I was happy. Nothing else was different except I was writing regularly and this made me happy. Since we got back, school began, I had to catch up on work, the days shortened, we moved, and the iPhone and Facebook and the Internets began sucking at my brain and here I am, nothing further done on the book and desperate to write, and not very happy. I need that outlet for happyish to be a part of my life. I realized I’m out of practice. I used to actually practice writing, both here and in other journals. I haven’t done that. I have to rein in that discipline. Maybe it can be a New Year’s resolution I start now.
Anyway, I can’t think of any clever ending. Isabel is done nursing and it’s time to go to work. So I’m just going to stop. Hopefully I’ll write more again soon if the internets haven’t sucked out my brain.
The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality.
– by Naomi Wolf
This post is a reprint and can be found here.
US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, andpenned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.
To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.
That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
I tried watching the Olympics on the internet tonight. Greedy NBC can’t even let you watch old stuff without inserting hideous commercials so I turned it off. Then I decided to try and watch it from another country. Canadian Television worked just fine without the stupid Proctor and Gamble ads. Gag. Commercials are one of the main reasons I do not own a television. That, and most shows are so inane I can’t stand to waste my precious time watching them. Life is happening; I would rather experience it (even when it’s not that exciting) than spend my time staring at some dumb television show. I think back to the shows I used to watch when I had a t.v. and none of them were worth the time I spent.
I do like some of the cable series and have watched them on DVD, Six Feet Under, Weeds, and Dexter. Unfortunately, though, whenever I get into one of these shows, they take over my life because I just want to watch and watch until I get to the end. However, I do look back fondly on them, like a good book, which is different than mainstream television shows I spent years watching (ER, Party of Five, and Ally McBeal). Years after I quit watching ER I tuned in. None of the characters I had watched before were left. I quit when they took the adopted child away from the gay doctor because she was gay. That just made me too mad and I didn’t want to hang around for weeks to try and find out what happened, plus they always took months long breaks.
I haven’t had a television now for years and I don’t miss it. Thought I missed it some when the Olympics started, but having tried to watch via NBC, I’ve gotten a clue how they run things and I would hate it. I’m not missing anything. NBC would chop the shit out of it all, ruin it with ads and cuts to other events right when things were getting interesting, keep out the athletes who aren’t their pets, and generally make viewing miserable. I can get whatever I need right here on the internet. I’ll log in to Ukranian television. Yeah, that will work.
This article can be seen here on Huffington Post. If you like it, Digg It or Buzz it Up.
Pat Robertson has been getting a lot of attention for his hateful, insensitive remarks about the victims of the earthquake in Haiti (and the victims of 9/11, and the Christmas Day tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina). This is understandable. Those of us with anything resembling a moral compass are shocked that he could believe such things and that he has the audacity to spew them in the wake of such tragedies.
Yet as horrendously mean-spirited as Robertson’s statements are, we should also be upset that his opinions receive national attention. Why? Because broadcasters choose to air his program. If broadcasters refused to air his nastiness, no one would have to hear about it. The way to keep him from getting national attention is to get broadcasters to stop airing his show.
Viewers can control what is shown by boycotting advertisers who fund his offensive program. If we want to stop hearing Pat Robertson, we need to make sure the broadcasters who air his program are not paid for it, thereby removing their incentive to air him.
The primary network airing The 700 Club is the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Call the CBN and tell them to stop airing this show. Call networks and tell them to stop airing the show. Tell them if they do not pull the show, you will boycott their advertisers. Then call their advertisers and tell them you will not buy their products if they advertise on networks that air The 700 Club, or if they advertise on the CBN until the network pulls the show.
The CBN should drop Pat Robertson and The 700 Club. He does not espouse Christian values (or any values at all), such as compassion, kindness, generosity, humility, or selflessness. Let’s all do our part to ensure the next time tragedy strikes, Pat Robertson’s ugliness receives zero attention because none of us have to hear it.
So a week ago I published a blurb about the swine flu thinking everyone was freaking out for nothing. For a few days after, I wondered if maybe I got it wrong. Now however, I’m back to my original premise. I was also right about the foolish overreacting that would take place. Some ountries have banned travel to Mexico. Others have killed off a bunch of pigs. Everyone is still all freaked out. Yet the numbers of deaths have remained quite small and very contained even though the flu itself has shown up in many places. Craziness.
The killing of the pigs really bugs me. In spite of assertions by doctors and other scientists that this flu isn’t caught from eating pork, nor can it be transmitted from pigs to humans, Egypt killed over 300,000 pigs. In response, the WHO came out with a statement that the name needs to be changed because killing pigs is unnecessary.
All the news organizations went nuts when a toddler died from the flu outside of Mexico, the first case outside that country. EGADS! It’s spreading! Someone outside Mexico died! We’re all going to get it! It’s pandemic! We’re all dead! Um, yeah. Lost in the uproar was the fact the child was Mexican and had just been in Mexico. It wasn’t like the flu came crawling across the border, snaking its way north in ever increasing tentacles. Yet that is what the media worldwide seemed to want people to believe.
The actual truth is that most of the people who died had not gotten treatment when they should have. For everyone else who has contracted the flu, their illnesses have been sh0rt-lived and they have recovered. The trick was early detection and intervention. It would be nice if the news media could find a nice balance between letting people know they should do something and acting like lunatics. Unfortunately they usually lean towards lunacy.
The nasty right-winger radio hosts have used the swine flu as an opportunity to spread their hate mongering, lies, and racism. They blatantly lie, claiming that we’re all going to get sick from Mexicans and we better close our borders further. It’s disgusting. Maybe any idiots who believe their bullshit will lock themselves in their homes with a gun and stop wandering the streets. If this happens, I guess in a twisted way the hate mongerers have performed a public service.
I read a story on the BBC website today. The story is repeated in its entirety below. What struck me after reading the story was the BBC’s willingness to relate the torture described by Mr. Binyam Mohamed, a man held by the US for just under 7 years and released last February, all charges against him dropped. US mainstream media is completely unwilling to tell it like it is, preferring instead to describe the fringes, keeping the hard truth from reaching our eyes. Chickens.
Americans need to read and see what torture means. The word torture isn’t horrific anymore. We hear a bit about waterboarding, or see the most sanitized photos from Abu Ghraib, but unless we’re looking for it, we’re not hearing what our country did to people. It’s appalling.
Last week I read an article on Mr. Marri, the man who has been held without charges or trial for years. It was an online article, which meant anyone could comment. Some guy commented that “torture works.” Really? How is that? Does that mean that if I hold a lighter to your balls while you are tied to a fence in neither a sitting or standing position and ask you whether you raped my mother you will continue to deny it, even if I set your balls on fire? Is that evidence of torture’s “success”?
Read this BBC story and judge for yourself. Ask whether you could hold out under such conditions. Ask whether you would say anything to get someone to stop drowning you, or cutting you, or leaving you hanging by chains in the dark with music so loud you cannot hear. Then tell me whether torture works.
The link to this story can be found here.
Demands for MI5 ‘torture’ inquiry
Mr Mohamed arrived back at RAF Northolt in London in February
MPs have demanded a judicial inquiry into a Guantanamo Bay prisoner’s claims that MI5 was complicit in his torture.
In a Mail on Sunday interview, UK resident Binyam Mohamed claims MI5 fed his US captors questions which led him to make a false confession.
His allegations are being investigated by the government, but the Foreign Office said it did not condone torture.
Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said the “extremely serious” claims should also be referred to the police.
Mr Mohamed told the paper he was held in continual darkness for weeks on end in a prison in Kabul, Afghanistan.
He has claimed that while in US custody in 2002, he was rendered to Morocco for interrogation and torture.
Now he has released what he said were two telegrams sent from British intelligence to the CIA in November 2002.
In the first memo, the writer asks for a name to be put to him and then for him to be questioned further about that person.
The longest was when they chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn’t stand straight nor sit
The second telegram asks about a timescale for further interrogation.
The legal organisation Reprive, which represents Mr Mohamed, said its client was shown the telegrams in Guantanamo Bay by his military lawyer Lieutenant Col Yvonne Bradley.
Mr Mohamed claimed he acquired the telegrams through the US legal process when he was fighting to be freed from Guantanamo Bay.
Daniel Sandford, BBC Home Affairs correspondent, said Mr Mohamed’s claims would be relatively simple to substantiate.
“As time progresses it will probably become quite apparent whether indeed these are true telegrams and I think it’s unlikely they’d be put into the public domain if they couldn’t eventually be checked back.”
The Conservatives have called for a police inquiry into his allegations of British collusion.
Mr Grieve called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations.
“And if the evidence is sufficient to bring a prosecution then the police ought to investigate it,” he added.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said there was a “rock solid” case for an independent judicial inquiry.
Labour MP Andrew Dismore, who chairs the joint committee on human rights, said he would asking the home and foreign secretaries to explain how Britain’s policy against torture is being implemented and monitored.
Shami Chakrabati, director of campaign group Liberty said: “These are more than allegations – these are pieces of a puzzle that are being put together.
“It makes an immediate criminal investigation absolutely inescapable.”
Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis accused the government of “stonewalling” by referring the claims to the Attorney General rather than the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“What appears to have happened is they have been turning blind eyes,” he added.
Mr Mohamed told the paper the worst part of this captivity was in Kabul’s “dark prison”.
“The toilet in the cell was a bucket,” he told the paper.
“There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out what felt like about 160 watts, a deafening volume, non-stop, 24 hours a day.
We abhor torture and never order it or condone it
Foreign Office spokesman
He added: “They chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn’t stand straight nor sit.
“I couldn’t sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.”
Mr Mohamed spent just under seven years in custody, four of those in Guantanamo – the US’s camp in Cuba.
He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 as US authorities considered him a would-be bomber who fought alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan.
But last year the US dropped all charges against him, and he was released in February.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We abhor torture and never order it or condone it.
“We take allegations of mistreatment seriously and investigate them when they are made.
“In the case of Binyam Mohamed, an allegation of possible criminal wrong-doing has been referred to the Attorney General.
“We need now to wait for her report.”
I’ve switched to mac. However I still own a pretty decent PC that I keep because of WordPerfect, the best and only word processing program, a program that makes stupid, counterintuitive Word look like the mangled piece of shit that it is. If only Corel would make a WordPerfect for mac, things truly would be perfect. Anyway, I digress.
I have not had the PC out for about 7 months. It’s been packed away in Oregon. I used it yesterday to work on some documents in WordPerfect. I forgot just how hideously obnoxious windows is. I hate the constant updates. I hate the stupid little messages telling me stuff I already got 4000 times ago without the stupid little message. I hate that I have to give “Supervisor Permission” to do anything, even though I’m the only one using the damn thing, and even though I told it I was the only one using the damn thing.
Windows-based computers are called PCs, for “personal computers,” but the truth is they are anything but. They are completely designed for work in an office with some IP nazi who wants total control of everything you do. There should be some way to shut that shit off, but there isn’t. I called HP when I got the thing new and nope, can’t do it. Annoying.
Just now I came into my office after taking a shower. The PC had turned itself on and was sitting there wondering if it could install updates. Um, no. Go away. I don’t want to have to sit and wait and give you permisssion and then hang out while you reboot and do all your foolish things. Leave me alone. I’m going to go use my mac.
Every time I open up my blog or look at my web-based email or go anywhere I like to go on the web there is another article another analysis another something looking at Sarah Palin and John McCain and on and on and on. I’m so tired of it. She’s a disaster. He’s a disaster. This does not stop him from being about equal to Obama in the polls. If ANYONE who would vote for McCain gave a shit we wouldn’t be in this mess. We’re all yammering on and on about it but it isn’t changing anything. Guess what? Those of us who get it get it. Those of us who don’t never will. What’s the point of pointing out the obvious to people who DON’T FUCKING CARE? I just can’t see it.
I would love to be able to go back to the time before Sarah Palin, back when we pointed out the pitifulness of McCain’s positions on various things, back before every day brought a new low to the discourse. I am normally not that sort of person, the one longing for the past. I like change. But this change, this is ridiculous, and frankly I’m tired of it all. I wish we could stop being red and blue and fighting all the time. I wish there wasn’t a cultural battle being waged. I hate this. It makes me want to go bury my head in the sand or run off to somewhere where none of this matters on an everyday level. I’m not naive enough to believe what happens here won’t affect the rest of the world, because it does–unfortunately it does to a frightening degree. But I would love to find a place where it wasn’t so corporeal, somewhere it wasn’t in my face every day. Enough already. Really, I’ve had just enough.
It is unbelievable the content of questions on ABC’s debate between Obama and Clinton. It was an hour into the debate before the moderator asked any questions of substance on issues that affect anyone. Until that point, the content was pure nonsense, sound-bite, reality television, tabloid fodder ridiculousness. Of course the entire thing was lampooned on Jon Stewart, as it should have been. After seeing the Jon Stewart piece I found and watched the actual debate, but had to turn it off after ten minutes because it was too painful to view. Utterly remarkable.
As it is, those of us with brains will lament this state of affairs through emails and the sending of this video to others who share our views. Obama sent out a bulletin on myspace complaining. I’m sure liberal bloggers everywhere are writing all about it. Editorialists will provide their opinions. And you know what? Nothing will change. None of it. We’ve gotten so overloaded with information and crap and constant noise in the background and tabloid television and reality everything and commercials in the grocery stores and never silence anywhere that this too will pass. Tomorrow something equally shameful will occur, we’ll all cry a river, and in the noise and constancy it will continue. It’s depressing. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. Everyone is talking. No one is listening. The only thing that is changing is that it is all getting a bit worse every day. I know this is a bit of a pessimistic response to the reality of today’s world, at least in these United States, but it’s an honest response. I think anything else would be foolishness.
In my personal life, I continue to live and learn or live and not learn. It is what it is I guess. I don’t know. Lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should just chuck this brain and its efforts at enlightenment and go live on a beach somewhere with my daughter and my dogs and ignore the rest of the planet. It is very easy to want to bury my head in the sand. I know, I know. I’ve heard it before. You’re intelligent and educated. Use that to help change things. But I don’t think I can do anything outside the scope of my little world. Hell, I can’t change things inside the scope of my little world, why would I ever have the audacity to think I can do more than what I already do?
Yeah, I’m pessimistic tonight. I am what I am. I have this negative streak that runs through me. I can’t escape it. C’est la vie.
Wow. So I check out of reality for a few days and when I check back in the hottest story out there is a transgendered man having a baby and Obama’s bowling ability. I think maybe it’s time to check back out again. I normally avoid the news but there are some headlines that are unavoidable. Plus I listen to NPR and get bits and pieces there, although I extended my news fast to All Things Considered several years ago and have not felt the worse for wear as a result. Gotta protect that old sanity, ya know?
So I pulled into WordPress this morning to discover many changes. I’m sure there are lots of us out here commenting on it, what we like, what we don’t. I think once I get used to it, I will like it. I’m already liking the place to type better than previously. And I’ve noticed that there is a spell-checker. Yes, I think I’m going to like it. I’m not so keen yet on the dashboard, but I think with time and familiarity, it will all be good.
Okay, so right now Piper is spinning around and having a coniption fit because I’m typing and not paying one hundred percent attention to him, and Molly is standing over him, hovering like a bee over a flower. I’m not sure of the influence she is attempting to exert, but Piper is oblivious. Oh, and now she just got a good sniff of his butt. Yum. How was that for you, Molly? Dogs. They are unabashedly willing to partake of their senses, even if it involves a good solid butt sniffing.
I realized today that I am in some regards paralyzed by the sheer number of things I need to do. Many of them are small things. I just need to chip away at those things. Others are huge, like packing, for instance. I just need to dive in and begin. It’s funny, just last week I was discussing hoarding with my counselor. You know, why people hoard, how it gets started, all that. I know a few hoarders and their lives are completely stuck. One of the reasons we discussed is how something happens and the person lets things go, then things get out of hand, then they are paralyzed by the mess and magnitude. Then I discovered this morning that my paralysis is similar; I have not been doing anything because there is so much to do.
Earlier this week, I had dinner at the new house of some very good friends. They were lamenting all the work they need to do to make the house a home. I advised them to take it one space at a time. Break it down into smaller pieces. I’m taking my own advice. I’m going to make a list, then I’m going to sort the list into manageable pieces, then attack each piece. Some of the stuff I need to do could all be done in one day if I just did it. Like filing a tax extension. The taxes are done, I just don’t have the money to pay them yet. So I’m going to file this extension. I doubt it will take long, but I haven’t done it. And this CLE reporting thing lawyers have to do. It’s a pain. I started it, then stopped for some reason (probably to go do something really important like bang drums or play the bass) and never picked it up again. Now it’s sitting here on my desk. Both these things, tax extensions and CLE reports, have a deadline. It’s a good thing or I could see them sitting there even longer.
What is this, this procrastination? I’ve not been much of a procastinator before. Yet here I am. And this week when Milla has been gone, it has been oh so easy to play. South Park video? Much more appealing than tax extensions. I have a friend who texts me, Want to go watch a late movie? Yes. Not Uh sure, or okay, but YES. Emphatically, yes. Oh, and go here and watch this video. It’s called Mathmaticious and parodies Fergilicious. It’s better than Fergie’s. More entertaining. His sexy dancing in front of the window kills me. Very clever. Pretty soon he’ll be passed all around and end up in a South Park episode getting killed by Chocolate Rain guy. Good times.
See what I mean? It’s so easy. Just start typing your blog or doing something else. After a bit, feel like a break. Casually open a new tab. Type in YouTube. Then surf a little. Find something that looks interesting, like Mathmaticious. Watch it. Laugh. Then watch what it’s parodying, or click on something else on the side where all the videos are in a row. Discover a lot of time has passed. Shake your head in dismay at your ability to waste a lot of time. There is facility in time-wasting like no other, especially when computers are involved. Millions of others conspire to help you. Yikes.
I have wasted enough time this morning, er, afternoon. I must do something productive, if only for a moment. So I’m going to get up and go brush my teeth. That’s a step in the right direction. My drum store neighbor is bringing over the drum set this afternoon. I’m thrilled. I CANNOT wait. I keep looking out the window, waiting for him to pull up. Come on little drummies, come into my house. I want you. Banging drums has to be better than watching YouTube, right? I’m having one of those moments I’ve written about before where I can’t come up with a coherent ending to my post, so it continues to ramble on and on about nothing at all. Come here little drummies? Seriously? Did I say that? Okay, I’m really going now. I have to go to the bathroom. Oh there’s a story there that I can’t tell on the internet, but it’s so awful and funny, maybe I’ll put it on my secret blog, my anonymous blog. It needs to be written about because it’s that hilarious.
I’ve decided since typing this that I REALLY like the new WordPress. It’s much more user friendly. It saves my posts for me, eliminating the likelihood of blog loss because of my fucked up computer. It’s great. I love it. I’m going to have to figure out tags and all that, but it will all be good. I’ll get it done.
Our local NPR station is doing one of its annual membership drives. They bug the hell out of me. First of all, they keep going on and on about my having not called, but how do they know? Maybe I did. Yeah, I know. It’s meant for people who haven’t called, but still. Anyway, today this listener called in and said how her local NPR station makes her feel “connected to the community” and I got to thinking, connected to the community how exactly? Because you hear what they are telling you, that provides connection? Then I started wondering what connection is anyway. Everyone talks about being “connected,” but what the hell is that? I always considered connection actually requiring something be in one piece. But some seem to believe connection exists just by knowing some of what is going on. I don’t know that it is. You hear about some group doing something or you hear about how some guy shot his wife or you hear about the local elections so yeah, you’re in the know, kind of like high school. But how are you connected to that just by knowing it occurred? And some of these things, like hearing about how someone killed someone else, who wants to be connected to that anyway? Since I happen to think connection connotes, well, one piece, is it one piece for information to be broadcast and for me to hear it without really giving anything back? I suppose if the person on the radio told me about some volunteer opportunity and I went and did it, then maybe by virtue of my having become one piece at some point there was a connection. But this notion of connection because the information is out there and I hear it just doesn’t quite sit with me.
It’s funny, people seem to feel we are more connected because we can go to the internet and get information from someone across the world, or we can send an email at the drop of a hat or pick up a phone and dial, and maybe in the context of the phone we can have a connection because another person can be on the other end. But so much of it is an illusion of connectivity. There really isn’t one piece. There is one person at one end of an electronic device doing something or hearing or seeing something on the electronic device. At another time, and possibly simultaneously, there is another person or several people in various places connected to electronic devices and interacting with them. But the actual people are not necessarily actually connected, especially when it comes to the internet.
I thought about this a lot when I internet dated, something I have given up for good. It creates this illusion of intimacy. You go through essentially a catalogue looking for the right visual stimuli that appeals to you on whatever level, be it through photos or what is posted about the person, or what they have to say, whatever. Then, while sitting alone at a keyboard, you send some signal letting them know you are interested. At some point in the future, they get your signal, look at your marketing tools, then ignore the signal or respond via another electronic signal. If that happens to be email, you can spend hours, days, weeks even, sitting and typing at the computer without ever having encountered the other human being. You may discuss things in depth. You may keep it light. Whatever. The point is, it is an illusion because you have never actually connected to that human being, at least in terms of connection being in one piece. No wonder it is so easy for dishonesty to proliferate. I’m not arguing that people can’t lie when they hook up in bars, but at least there you have the visual clues to go along with what is being communicated verbally to ascertain how much of what is going on is the truth. I would suspect the same is true receiving information from various forms of media and assuming it is true and assuming we are connected. It’s an illusion and it’s easier to be deceived.
If the rain is falling all at once, are the drops connected before they land? If I am driving in my car with others on the road, are we connected by virtue of heading in the same direction? I suppose the answers could be yes and no, spanning science and the metaphysical. I don’t know. I think I’ll go ponder these connundrums while I take a shower.
I saw this blog on the front page of wordpress this morning that says a vote for Huckabee is a vote for Hillary. I love how the writers of the post assume Hillary is going to be the Democratic candidate. Why isn’t it a vote for Obama? Or have the pundits all decided who the candidates are?
I listened to Talk of the Nation last week on polling. One thing I found kind of interesting and also disturbing was all the talk about “failures” in New Hampshire and South Carolina. So because they couldn’t figure out who would win ahead of time, they failed? Why all this need to predict the future? What are you going to know if you know who wins? It drives me bananas. There are some subjects where polling might be useful, but trying to predict elections to me seems to have no valid purpose. If you are able to start figuring out who will win, then put that information out there, then people vote based on the lemming effect, isn’t that somewhat irresponsible? Isn’t it encouraging people to vote based on something other than the issues? And the people who vote based on who is already winning, what is that? Do you feel like you are more important because you’re with the crowd? I find it ironic that a country that pays so much lip service to the individual is actually full of so many sheep, whether it’s wanting the lastest consumer gadget because everyone else has it, wearing the latest fashion because everyone else wears it, or voting for the most popular candidate because they are well, the most popular. It’s like giant junior high, and the pundits are the gossipers. It’s nuts.
I do not read or watch the news. I know there are those out there who would consider this irresponsible, and perhaps for them this is true. But I know most of it is designed to keep my heart rate elevated and probably also to make me shop, two things I have no desire to experience on a regular basis, so for over a decade I have engaged in a “news fast.”
Ironically enough, this has not kept me from being aware of what is going on in the world around me, although I did not know who Laci Peterson was, the pregnant lady who was murdered, until her husband was on trial (and in fact I had to google Lacy and pregnant to get her name for this, such is my lack of knowledge on the subject). I like to peruse the Living section in the paper and get the little entertainment blurbs. I also like the Metro section and when I’m at Starbucks or see it somewhere, I’ll read a lot of it. This is the section on Portland and surrounding areas, so often the information is useful. I will occasionally glance at the opinions section, and I like to check out the obituaries to see if anyone young died. Weird, I know. All of this is only when I’m at Starbucks or another coffee place that has papers and I’m sitting alone and forgot to bring a book or desire something a little more fluffy than whatever I happen to be reading at the moment.
I never watch television news. Ever. I absolutely hate it. When I last watched news, the stories were less like music videos than they are now. When I catch a glimpse of the news at someone else’s house or in a store where its blaring, it blows my mind how far it seems from anything desiring to impart information. It’s constant noise and visual effects and seriously, it looks like music videos. I hate it.
I am on a few political listserves, MoveOn and People United for Change. I get emails from them and I read through them. I unsubscribed from most of them because when I was getting too much, I never read any of it. At least by limiting the number I can absorb some of the information, but I limit what I take in because there is just so much to get angry about, and I do not want to spend my life pissed off. I know someone once said that if you aren’t mad, you aren’t paying attention, but I can’t spend every minute of every day being angry. I can make choices that hopefully contribute to change, but being angry all the time isn’t going to help anything and will likely make me sick, so my choice is to limit the sheer volume of information, especially about the current administration. Yes, they are power hungry. Yes, they are liars. Yes, they’ve created multiple disasters that will take years to sort out. Okay. I get it, but I’m not spending my time on this planet pissed off every minute of every day.
There is a point to this. I have a yahoo email account. I use it for things like ebay or Craigslist ads, stuff I don’t want in my personal email. When you login to yahoo, the front page is one liner news. I have been following the Heath Ledger stuff. I liked him as an actor. A lot. I thought he was brilliant in Brokeback Mountain, but he was a standout even in his early stuff like 10 Things I Hate About You. And I loved A Knight’s Tale. Plus lately it seems like I keep hearing about people dying from prescription drugs. A friend of mine died last spring from the drugs she was taking for eczema. In December, two friends of mine each had a friend who died in their sleep from taking prescription drugs, and I read it was a possibility Brad Renfro died from prescription drug interactions, possibly with illegal drugs or alcohol. (See my post from 1-22-2008. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, but I noticed all these people dying from prescription drugs.) So I have been following the Heath Ledger story out of interest from that angle as well. I’ll be curious what the autopsy report shows.
Anyway, as I logged in to my yahoo account each day, I saw the stories on Heath and I actually clicked on them and read them. Mostly the yahoo stories seemed to add a new paragraph to the top of the same story while the bottom paragraphs stayed the same. Then the other morning, I went to Starbucks and decided to hang out for a while. I went to the used paper bin and started pulling out the sections I like to read. The front page had a story on Heath, so I grabbed it. Back at my table, I started reading the story and maybe there are those out there who will not be surprised by this, but the story was one hundred percent, word-for-word identical to the stories on yahoo.
Okay. I’m not naive. I know that media is consolidated. But really, do we get one story every time we read the news? Does some person out there get to write it, then that is the story that is copied here, there, and everywhere? For the next several days, whenever I went into a Starbucks, I pulled out the paper and there was the same Heath info straight off yahoo news. It was the same whether the paper was the Oregonian or the NY Times. How boring is that?
I KNOW how publicist’s work. I KNOW that if someone wants something to be the official story, get all the news orgs to pick it up and that will be what’s reported. I KNOW the vagaries of the media conglomorate system. But does that still mean we have to have one story written by one writer that’s put out into the system of what we get to read? That is so boring! And these stories don’t have a byline. They are just bland.
I find this disappointing. Are we all so used to this now that I shouldn’t be surprised? No wonder people often don’t believe what is in the news. You get one story over and over, it’s easy to believe we’re being fed what someone wants us to believe. Reporters are supposed to report what they observe, the truth as they see it. And there are those who believe there is one truth, one thing that factually occurred. But we all know that we each see things differently according to our own conditioning. If we get five accounts of the same event, we can put those together and perhaps get a more flavorful account of something we were not there to experience. When we get one sanitized, flavorless, boring version of what supposedly is, it’s hard not to wonder if there is more to the story. I think we’re all less likely to trust what we’re given when it’s force fed, canned blandness. Or perhaps we’re less likely to question. Don’t question it and don’t believe it. It’s like the television news with its music video visual bombardment, all hype and no substance. There’s nothing there. We’re not being told anything. Here we have the internet and this theoretical access to the entire world, but we’re all being fed the same thing. We have this opportunity for imagination and creativity to flourish, and instead the entire world gets the same thing. Assembly-line news. News like Starbucks. And Target. And Walmart. And Sears. And on and on and on. Even politicians have turned into mass market products to appeal to everyone and no one. Yuck. What a sad state of affairs we’ve gotten ourselves into.
We need a change. I have been sitting here mulling over the sheer enormity of the bland mass marketing of every single thing. I guess people will have to want it to change in order for it to happen. The number of various levels on which change would have to happen to actually succeed is staggering. As such, it’s easy to see why anyone would look at that magnitude, feel powerless, and so do nothing. But that doesn’t work. Each person has to change what they can if they want things to be different. If each one of us does that, anything is possible.
Hooray for best actor nominee Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah and best picture nominee Juno! Sorry to all the “shut-outs,” but we should be glad when there are “shut-outs.” It means there were lots of good films and lots of good acting, and who can complain about that?
I was so tired the other night because it was late when I was writing, so I finally just had to stop. After I stopped writing, I did some quick google searching for the sites that I did not know. What I found was surprising. Most of the sites were socialization and video sharing sites. Badoo, a top search for the world, looks to be like myspace and facebook. Same with hi5 and second life. Daily motion is a video sharing site and appears similar to Youtube. As my kind commentator pointed out, tmz is a place to follow celebrity gossip.
I thought about this quite a bit yesterday. MSNBC says that its top clicked stories of the week are all murder and killing stories. I checked a few other “news” sites and found similar patterns. Yet a search for what people are looking for, at least in 2007, reveals that what we actually seek is to connect, through socialization sites and video. We’re interested in the latest celebrity scandal (i.e., tmz and Anna Nicole Smith), but for the most part, we want to connect with one another. In a sense, it could be argued that we are not so interested in murder and death as we are in life, our lives and the lives around us. Even the checks on celebrity stories could be viewed as a way to connect; we wish to see how those who appear to have everything are really human in the ways that they mess up. (And of course it is so much fun to taunt Paris Hilton when she cries about how she’s “changed” after a few nights in jail. Poor baby. Yes, you are human. Riiiight.)
I think perhaps the “news” organizations ought to consider getting a clue on this point. They design sites where you click for the “latest story.” Yet those stories are chosen by the organization and a link is created to click. They are the ones that are creating the “top-clicked stories” because they are the ones choosing which stories to present. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, created by the “news” organization. Would their results be the same if their subject matter were different? I doubt it. In fact, if murder and killing stories weren’t on there at all, they could not be clicked at all. Suppose the stories presented were about world affairs or national interest pieces. Yes, the stories may then be about killing because the stories might be about wars, but they probably would not be the sort of sensationalized killing stories available via the “top clicked sites.”
What with the proliferation of shows like CSI, I suppose the “news” organizations think all we are interested in is murder and killing. What they fail to understand is that it isn’t the murder that interests us on shows like that, it is the investigation and the finding of the clues. These are two different things. In some ways the investigation is a form of joining together between the people seeking to find the clues into the murder. Again, connection. Like the searches on google for social sites and video sharing, what we seem to seek is relationship and association, not murder and killing. This shouldn’t be surprising, but considering “news” organizations have sought to shove murder and killing down our throats as long as there have been “news” stories, I don’t expect it to end anytime soon.
Happy New Year. And what are the top ten stories being clicked on at MSNBC? Amanda Knox’s deadly exchange. Who’s Who Student murdered in Italy. Photos: Terror at home for Connecticut family. Who killed Stacy Peterson? To catch a predator. The reals story behind “Alpha Dog.” Phil Spector evidence photos. Predator goes to Kentucky. Palladium murder photo gallery. Photos: Death in the Hollywood Hills.
Seriously? Is this seriously what Americans consider the most popular pages on MSNBC? Does MSNBC do something to market these murderous stories and photos so everyone is so interested in them? Shouldn’t we all be disturbed that the top stories grabbing American attention are all about killing and mayhem? Jesus. Something is really messed up about that. There must be something at the site that encourages people to choose these stories. I cannot yet fathom that these are the top story views by choice. I would think a more accurate measure of what people are searching for would be the top ten google searches. Then people would, of their own accord, be entering the information into the search engine and not having it flashing in their faces begging them to click. Google is good that way, with its lack of ads and fanfare.
Well. So I did a google search for the top ten google searches and came up with an interesting page analyzing the year 2007 and the searches done throughout the year and the top searches, both by U.S. and by the world. They calculate the top searches as rising and falling. For the world, the top risers are iphone, badoo, facebook, dailymotion, webkinz, youtube, ebuddy, second life, hi5, and club penguin. The fastest US risers are iphone, webkinz, tmz, transformers, youtube, club penguin, myspace, heroes, facebook, and Anna Nicole Smith.
Well. There are many searches on these lists for things I have never even heard of, so I must not be in line with the rest of the world population. I’m not “with it” if you will. However, I can count myself among the top US searchers on youtube and myspace. Myspace I use so I don’t have to type it in the URL. Pure laziness on my part because from google’s response I can click right into wherever I want. And Youtube needs no explanation. I’m shocked Club Penguin is on here. Milla loves it. I have to convince her not to play it after she’s been to visit non-Waldorf friends. I would not have known it was so popular. I do not know what badoo, dailymotion, webkinz, ebuddy, second life, hi5, or tmz are. I am going to have to search those, thereby increasing their search popularity, just so I can find out what they are.
There are fallers from the list as well. World Cup tops this list, followed by mozart, fifa, rebelde, kazaa, xanga, webdetente, sudoku, shakira, and mp3. I do not know what fifa, rebelde, kazaa, and shakira are, although I think shakira might be a singer. My goodness, I’m frighteningly out of touch, aren’t I? I’m surprised mozart is on this list, not because it’s going down, but because he is on the list at all.
For anyone who cares, I found this information at: http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/zeitgeist2007/
Well it is officially 2008 on the west coast so I can now head to bed. This blog has the notoriety of having been started in one year and completed in another. Makes it sound as if I spent a good deal of time on it, rather than about 21 minutes.