Sunday, April 29, 2012

Two Left Feet, Two Left Hands...All Thumbs and Big Toes

You know the types: the impulsive ones who just do things off-the-top-of-their-heads without thinking things through first or just react ephemerally to their life's situation or circumstance; the socially-awkward "dweebs" who have a propensity for saying or doing "just the wrong thing" at just the wrong moment; the "honest" types who hold nothing back no matter how personal with no consideration for stigmatism, dogma, prejudices, or social mores; the "loose cannons" who fly-off-the-handle at the slightest thing that "rubs them the wrong way" and always have a very "imposing" presence; the giddy "immature" types "who never grew up"; the "chronically irrational" types who overreact to anything amiss or bothersome to them and are always paranoid or just "upset and uptight all the time" in general; the "silent types" who "always look 'suspicious'" as if they're conspiring to commit some sort of malice---even if whatever they're doing might be perfectly innocent; the types who are always "making bad judgment calls" when doing business or making financial decisions or with their social and domestic interactions.

Just as there are people who are the complete opposite---the "people" persons who have a natural inborn aptitude for social diplomacy and "can get along with anybody anywhere in the world", or the successful business types who have the knack for being able to cajole and mind-manipulate others effectively to their benefit, or the suave types who can elicit awe (or even envy) and are always guaranteed to make a good impression on others---there are also those who "stumble all over themselves" just to do the simplest things or accomplish the most basic of agendas.

I believe there's such a thing as---for lack of a better term---a "faux pas gene".
A natural inborn tendency to just "never get it right" a natural inborn "curse" from nature herself.

I can't help thinking of all the people who get fired from their jobs for joking about things inappropriately;
or the lanky types who see someone they "find attractive" but when they try to "be a little friendly" with that person they wind up in trouble for "harassment" or something along that line (maybe because they came off more "threatening" than "friendly"); all those social misfits who have to suffer "exclusionism" because of all the social dogmas and prejudices...
...and the like.

You would think with all the lisps, obesity, epilepsy, AIDS, diabetes, and diversity-of-personality-types society could see it in itself to, perhaps, be a little bit "forgiving" toward those "cursed" by chronic "social incorrectness" everybody such a "makeshift elitist" that they can't simply figure "Hey! We're all only human!"?

For whatever reason people are just so obsessed with "judging others" and always having "one up on" the other guy any way they can, they LOOK FOR weaknesses in others they can either exploit or use as a "weapon" against them.
And for that reason as well one has to feel for those who had the misfortune of being born with this congenital "faux pas gene".

Dick Clark's Dark Side

There are all kinds of accounts of the career of media icon Dick Clark pro and con.

Among the cons are those of his involvement in the notorious "payola" scandals as well as a documentary titled THE WAGES OF SPIN.

Now I'm pretty sure, for the most part, Clark was essentially a pretty decent person
...but the music business has always had a notorious reputation for being quite "cut-throat", and as successful as Dick Clark was (for a non-musician/non-singer) with his involvement in it I'm sure at some point he had to have been "forced to" resort to a few "tricks" to keep himself on top as well as "keep certain parties satisfied".
To be completely straight-laced in a profession---which is, by it's own definition, dependent on ostentatious gimmickry as well as on hyperbolic imagerism and assorted favoritisms and all other manners of "mediatory politics"---one would easily be subjecting themselves to being viewed as being "too naive" and liable to be taken advantage of themselves in some way.

It's no trade secret that Clark was an entrepreneuring genius with good instincts and very knowledgeable and worldly.
He would do whatever he had to in order to make his career and projects work to his advantage, even when it meant resorting to a few what's-considered-unsavory-tactics.'s one of the "necessary evils" of being successful and of "making one's mark" in the world.
Politicians do those sort of things all the time to get where they're at.
I don't think it reflects on the overall personality or character of the person-in-question. It's just the way the "systems" work.
If one has a special talent or aptitude in certain areas and with them the potential for accomplishing or creating certain projects, one should never just let such potentials merely go-to-waste
...and Dick Clark was a very proud person with a profound level of self-preservation.  He was "wired" to succeed---that was simply his in-born nature.

In a classic case of "the ends justifies the means" one should consider what is was Clark ACCOMPLISHED by what all he's done in the span of his long media career
...and, maybe, just be "forgiving" of whatever occasional underhandednesses he may have engaged in.
Let's also not forget a lot of his contemporaries engaged in unscrupulous acts from time-to-time themselves as well---who knows, some maybe worse than whatever it was Clark himself is guilty of.

Hell, what about even the local radio DJs themselves during the 1950s and '60s?
How often did THEY have to "espouse the virtues of" certain brands of chewing gum and soda pop, or some other kind of junk food?
...and did they feel the slightest bit "guilty" about, essentially, peddling garbage to impressionable underaged listeners for the purpose of furthering the profits of whatever station they worked at so as to ensure their continued employment there?

                                                                      To summarize:
Dick Clark's legend will always live on, no matter what!  And that, ultimately, will end up being all that matters.

Sense of the Obvious

                                         Occam's Razor
A sense of the obvious and the use of "logical deduction" to analyze even the most irregular or unusual situations
...or of keeping all explanations at a "down-to-earth" level

I've had the same checking account at the same bank for 9 years now.
And with it a debit card which I've only used to withdraw cash money from the bank's ATM machines.
I've never used it to make any purchases with (i.e.: the same way one uses a credit card)
...just to withdraw money from the ATM's---and always the one's belonging to this bank at that.
...going on 9 years with no problems

...Until a month ago:
I recieved (in the mail) a new debit card with a new number along with a warning stating that my (old) card may "be at risk for fraud" and advising me to activate my new card as soon as possible further stating that my (old) one would automatically be deactivated by (such-and-such a date).

At the time I didn't think much of it, since---like I stated above---I've never used it for any other purpose than to withdraw minute amounts of cash from the bank's ATM's ($40; $80; $60---like so)

When my next bank statement came in I was shocked to find out someone somehow had succeeded in withdrawing over $200 from my account via an ATM (in Chicago---310 miles away)---and one not affiliated with this bank, a practice I never engage in as there's a small surcharge for using another bank's ATM.

Now, this is the only time a thing like this has ever happened to me, but I did notice one thing:
The date of the unauthorized withdrawal just happened to be the same day I recieved the notice with the replacement card...
Bear in mind that one needs to enter their PIN number after swiping their card in order to access their account
...and that number is a secret known only to the bearer of the account

Okay, so my "missing money" has been reinstated to my account and I have a new debit card (which I recently decided NOT to use anymore due to afterthoughts on this matter---I now withdraw any money I need at the teller's window itself via withdrawal slip and state I.D. card)
...still---doesn't this incident seem rather ...creepy? ...questionable?

And what about a certain government social sevice agency who asked that I mail in certain critical documents to them (everything from copies of utility bills to copies of bank statements and rent receipts) by a certain date in order to determine if I "qualify" for continuation of certain benefits?
...After carefully packaging and double-checking before sending---to make sure I didn't overlook any of whatever they were asking for---they tell me that all they recieved from me was just the request form and the rent receipt (but nothing else).

Now, using one's worldly knowledge and sense of logic and reason, what could one deduct from those two above scenarios?
...without getting into any type of off-the-wall speculations involving such concepts as the metaphysical or "evil spirits" or the like...
...if one had to figure out stuff like this concretely---using pure logic and circumstantial analysis---what conclusions can one arrive at?
...perhaps a conspiracy of some kind?
...but WHY would anyone want to try to "do in" an obscure nobody like me, who's existence is so inconsequential to "the general scheme of everything"?
...I mean, if I was a THREAT of some kind...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"World's oldest 'teenager'" dies of old age

Dick Clark died Wednesday afternoon at the age of 82...
...I always wondered how long he'd "still be around"
...for years now I have to admit.

A very energetic individual ...highly motivated and inspired...
...blessed with immense charisma as well as exceptional verbal skills and unusually high degree of interpersonal interactivistic perception
...someone who was practically "born to be part of the commercial media" much at home behind-the-microphone, on-screen, or even behind-the-scenes---he could do it all, with ease.

...not to mention an entrepreneuring genius to boot
...exceptional "marketing" skills.

I never paid that much attention to AMERICAN BANDSTAND when it was enjoying it's heyday
---oh, sure, I caught glimpses of it now-and-then, and even sat through segments of a show or two
...but I was more into actually listening to the songs themselves for their own sakes---I was never much for being interested in any of the "latest dances".  I was more of a listener, favoring certain songs over others and also still clinging to assorted older songs which still excited me when I heard them.
And the show was really campy, both at-the-time and in retrospect.
...little more than fodder for socialite teeny-boppers.

One thing I find amusing about the show, though---when it started out in the late-1950s, it was during what they now refer to as "the age of innocence" and rock n'roll was marketed primarily toward teenagers and those in their early-20s. In it's early days it was the bastion of Annette, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Chubby Checker, Connie Francis, Frankie Lymon, and others along those lines
...but fast-forward to the late-1960s and the show was featuring psychedellic groups like The Doors and such, while STILL hanging on to the same format and personna to the late-1970s and you have disco and live appearances by the likes of Kiss and K.C. and the Sunshine Band---yet the show was STILL hanging on to it's same-old-trademark-format-and-personna the way it's been doing since it's inception two decades earlier.
The show "had a life of it's own", and the changing trends and musical evolutions of rock n'roll were all more-or-less just "things that were happening to it"---never enough to alter it's basic underlying form.

                                                           One final thought:
With the death of Dick Clark should rock n'roll itself finally "call it quits" and become an artistic anachronism?
...I mean, what does it really have to offer anymore?
And it already HAS quite an immense legacy to keep it's memory alive in the annals of musical history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oxymoronism Revisited

In the early part of the 20th century you had corruption in industry and business in which there was exploitation of employees---underpaid, overworked, undercompensated for performing dangerous and life-threatening duties...

...then unions were formed to stand behind these workers and demand amends and reforms designed to fairly compensate employees for their efforts and also to increase the level of safety on the jobsite---eliminating unnecessary dangers and initiating extra compensation for the unavoidable ones...

...then, eventually, the unions would end up being subverted and become corrupt themselves---extorting excessive "due" payments while increasingly underrepresenting the workers and initiating strikes as they saw fit without consulting the employees first...

...then industry and business, with help from the government, eventually dissolves and eliminates the unions at long last, citing the corruption within to justify their actions..., here we are---back to "square one":  corruption in industry and business and exploitation of employees and workers...
There's a lot about the world that doesn't make sense to me, actually...

...the way even the best inventions seem to have been brought into existence only to be destroyed and disavowed years later
...the fact that you buy items, such as clothing or appliances, with certain intent and purposes in mind---but those items end up being so defective or so poorly made they either don't work like they should, or they never last.  Either way, they wind up defeating the alleged purpose of their own existence.

Other oxymorons:
The way sex is used in advertisement, even in the most subtle manner, to "seduce" us into buying a product
...and then there's the way a lot of women dress, behave, and groom themselves to appear "seductive"---and, if they're attractive enough, it sometimes actually works without looking too "cliche"
...but yet you don't dare react in any kind of  straightforwardly ephemeral manner as one is still forbidden to freely express any desires of their own along those lines.

The social mandates of "showing consideration for the feelings of others"
...but then there are still others who mock, harass, and threaten you
...but if you get upset about it you're "overreacting" or "being too sensitive" and "naive" and "unworldly"
...but then say or do anything disparaging to/about anyone yourself and "everyone's out to get revenge on you".

This is a world where we were brought to life just to be put to death eventually
...and where things are created simply to be eventually destroyed.

And nobody can see
---that THEY are the oxymorons.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I remember, growing up in the '60s, being bombarded by all the endless claims about the virtues of "progress".

How fantastic it is that "in less than a hundred years" we went from horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches to today's automobile and from turbo-prop planes only able to travel 50 miles or so at a time to large passenger jets capable of non-stop overseas travel;
and about all the advances in medicine wherein diseases which were "death sentences" or permanently disabling not even 40 years ago have all but been wiped out;
and how we went from kerosine lamps to the electric light bulb and street lights and flood lights;
and how we went from fire places and coal burning furnaces to gas and electric heating;
and how advances in industry, science, and technology have made our lives easier with fancy gadgets and appliances capable of performing tasks which previously had to be done by hand or with basic hand-operated tools, and have even improved the efficiency level of already-existing gadgets and appliances;
and how we went from the Victrola to portable record players all the way to hi-fi sound systems and tube amplifiers
...and from there we went to transisters---at first in portable and hand-held radios, but eventually they replaced the tubes in high-powered hi-fi/stereo sound systems;
then the transition from the silent films to "talkies" to the film industry and eventually television and videotape.

And then there was the social progress made as well:
When it was discovered that the progress made in industry was resulting in the desecration of the physical and biological environment the government enacted regulations designed to reduce the amount of pollution going into the environment;
there were also child labor laws that were passed to curb the exploitation of underaged workers;
there were the social welfare programs passed as a result of the Great Depression: food stamps, Medicare, social security.
and the social reform programs---like the Civil Rights laws and the War On Poverty for example.

And the creation of the Space Program and the progress made in the quest for the exploration of outer space
...from a manned spacecraft circling the earth to a man actually standing on the moon itself.
Let's not forget all the communications satellites which enabled live broadcasts from any one place on earth to be viewed anywhere or everywhere else on earth.

Even the military went from bayonet rifles and cannons to machine guns, tanks, bazookas, fighter planes(/jets), bombs, missles, and nuclear weapons.

Even the underworld of espionage brought about advances in "bugging devices":
micro-sized hidden cameras and microphones, phone-tapping, the use of two-way radio transmissions on reserved frequencies designated for select government use only, covert surveillance devises often camouflaged.

This gave us a futuristic mindset in which we were musing about "the time we would find a cure for and wipe out all cancers" or "when we would travel to distant galaxies and solar systems and, maybe interact with inhabitants of another world" or "a time when private and commercial vehicles are all aerial and we can reconvert all our roads and highways back to farmland".

I'm old enough to remember when the promise of "progress" was to make our lives easier than they were in earlier times and also to enable us to solve a lot of our age-old problems short, the promise of "progress" was to improve and enhance our existence on this planet as well as the quality of our lives.
Eventually it became more of a crux and a vexation due to the way a lot of these "advances" have also enabled subversives and those with ulterior motives greater choices of how to carry out destructive activities as well as providing more methods for being able to do whatever it is such parties would have in mind to do.

And on the social front, all of the progress made with regard to regulations and social services and anti-discrimination laws:
---The past 30+ years have seen a dismantling of a lot of the regulations designed to: a)regulate toxic waste disposal, b) protect consumers, such as those regulating banking practices and business transactions, c) safety regulations both in industry and home/residential safety as well as the contents of consumer goods from food to material goods.
---And the strides we made in interpersonal relations---from the civil rights legislations to even the hippie-influenced "brotherly/sisterly love" idealisms...that "everybody's our brothers and sisters" to the notion that "everybody's the same deep down inside" (although, more accurately, it should be "everybody's ESSENTIALLY the same", which is to say everybody's human and have the same basic needs and have similar type desires)---are being counteracted by various social fragmentations of great magnitude. Everyone seems to be self-affiliated with some movement or some organization or faction of some kind. And they usually associate primarily with those whose beliefs and lifestyles match their own. But these beliefs and lifestyles are not of a personal-choice/individualistic nature...they're usually ones prescribed by whatever demographic said person identifies themselves with.
And, as if afflicted by collective amnesia, there's been a resurgence of all manners of racism and antiSemitism in great numbers---not just sporadic or isolated incidents. Whatever promises there were of eventual "total integration" back in the 1970s are pretty much being snuffed out by this throwback-to-the-Jim-Crow-era-mindset.
In another display of collective amnesia there are also attempts to undo the progress made by the "women's rights" movements of the recent past as well.

It's like there's no longer any interest in "improving life for mankind"'s all about everyone "destroying each other" any way they can.
We've become a society of "nimrods", all conspiring against each other turning civilian society into a massive "war zone".

Businesses are trying to fleece us constantly;
Our government is abandoning and deserting us;
Our so-called "fellow citizens" are often adversarial towards us;
Gentrification is threatening to displace those of us of little or modest means via inflated prices on even the most basic commodities;
Our officials are constantly enacting and enforcing more and more excessively harsh laws with Draconian-style penalties to match.

Also, when mentioning "Progress vs. Anti-progress":
Are you impressed with all the high-tech gadgetry?
Do you really think it has actually improved efficiency and enhanced communication?
When you need critical information are you able to get it, and get it in a thorough and comprehensive manner?
...or do you still get "the runaround"? Or do those you're trying to get in touch with manage to evade you?
Is the extent of high-tech simply to text about trivial or frivolous aspects of our opposed to conveying important information?
And how come so much false or outdated information still finds it's way to so many computer systems?
Is there no oversight on the part of the programmers? ...or any kind of built-in automatic "detection" in the systems themselves?

I tell you, communication's bad these days!
I guess it's because everybody's "off in their own world" these days
...headphones on, even when out in public's like everyone has a "Don't bother me now! I can't cope!" demeanor about themselves.
But you HAVE noticed that in this here "communication age" it's still hard to get answers to critical questions or to get critical information sometimes...
...or to find someone to listen to whatever you have to say.

That's also a kind of "anti-progress" in it's own way as well.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hamburger Hill

HAMBURGER HILL was a grade-B movie, set during the Vietnam war, about a troop of American soldiers attempting to overtake a hill presently under the control of a well-armed group of Viet-congs.

However, there was one segment which really stuck with me:

Two soldiers were discussing how nice it would be to be on leave, back in "the States", and one of them was lamenting about  the possibility of  not living long enough to experience what he's heard about the current "scene" back home.
He went on about how "everyone keeps telling me about all the 'free love' and everything. Man, I'd love to get in on some of that."
...To which the other one responds: "Let me tell you something---I've BEEN back home a couple times and I've SEEN some of that 'free love' they're talking about.

"Oh, yeah, there's 'free love' all right. Everyone's making out with everybody. Everybody loves everyone
"...'everyone but YOU'  that is."

As hackneyed as this movie is, that's STILL one of my all-time favorite movie lines
...because it rings so true.

It reminds one of how things were also hyped and propagandized even back then.
All those trends and fashions one would read about on TIME or LIFE magazine---yes, they were happening...but it was only certain groups and crowds who were engaging in these activities.
You couldn't be just ANYBODY and expect to be accepted or just find the same scenes in your hometown.
Even these "free-thinking" hippy types could still be ostracizing toward those they deemed to be "out-of-it".

It shows an understanding of the notion of modern-day cultural legend vs. the reality.

"Easter" dilemma

Okay, this is how I understand it:
Christmas is (essentially) supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
And Easter is supposed to be the celebration of his resurrection, three days following his crucifixion.

Fine, so far.
Except for one thing...
Christmas is celebrated on a fixed date: December 25.

However, Easter is not.
There is no definitive date on this particular celebration.
One year it can come at the end of March
...the next year it comes in mid-April.

Surely Christ died on a specific day the same way he was born on a specific day.

Even though December 25 wasn't his actual birthdate it's still a decidedly agreed-upon resolute celebratory date.
Why don't they do the same for his resurrectional date?
Celebrate Easter the same date each year?

The "Abortion" Dilemma

If ever there was a subject capable of generating a ton of hoopla it's that of "the abortion rights of women".

Even with the omnipresence of issues of such grave consequence---such as the maintenance of infrastructures, the biophysical condition of our planet due to decades of artificial man-made mutations and mutilations, economic conditions brought on by sabotage and various misappropriations---the rights of promiscuous women seem to have the higher priority.
I guess some people are more important than the rest of us.

Now, to be perfectly honest, I have so many mixed emotions when it comes to a subject like "abortion".

On one hand, one might ask:
Do I think the slaughter of early-stage developing humans is also an act of "murder" much in the same way killing a now-and-present person is?
...Here's where one has to decide whether or not to side with certain idealistic perceptions of "what makes a human being a human being"---or acknowledge certain biophysical certainties.
However it may be defined as to when a person is actually at a stage where they're considered a "full-fledged" human, it still stands to reason that if there is a developing embryo in the womb of any female creature---be it a dog, cat, rabbit, or what-have-you---the developing soon-to-be future creature in their uterus has already been biologically "programmed" to develop as and into a like creature and already has numerous DNA and biophysical and psychological traits befitting whatever creature they're in the process of becoming.
...With that in mind one could say that, literally, under the unwritten laws of biophysics abortion could be considered "homicidal".

I don't say that to side, in any way, with any religious factions or denominations
...nor do I subscribe to any notions of "God cursing this nation due to our killing millions of 'innocents'"
...if that was true---divine damnation for killing millions of "innocents"---all of civilization would have been rendered extinct a long time ago as we've pretty much surpassed all such milestones in that area centuries ago with ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, the Spanish Inquisition, the Puritans, and a long host of other civilizatonal atrocities which long predate the legalization of abortion.

On the flip side of the coin is what is know as "quality-of-life" issues.
Once brought into this world just what kind of existence can one expect?
What opportunities are going to be available to one so as to have the means to live a productive and satisfying life?
What kind of social climate will one have to exist in---and what kind of influences will be playing on their young impressionable mind while growing up?
Will that person be able to make their own way in life---or will they wind up getting "crowded out":
by too much competition? Discrimination? Learning disabilities? Subversive elements counteracting any attempts at self-enhancement and productive activities?

I can understand the "abortion" mindset the way the modern-day social climate stands.
And I'm not going to be the one to condemn a young naive misguided teenage girl who knows instinctively that there's no way things would work out in her particular situation if she goes ahead with having-a-kid.
I'm no stranger to the adversities of the world and I know the difference between the idealistic and the realistic.
And that when "one's back is against the wall" or when one's "painted into a corner" often they have to make a radical and often unorthodox decision in the name of self-preservation.

One has to do whatever seems wise at the time.

Of course one can also hear story after story about women who still decided to give birth in spite of desperately unfavorable situations in which the offspring still grew up with a lot of love and wound up becoming productive citizens.

But it's not my place to dispute anyone's claims nor to take sides with anybody's personal set of priorities, standards, or beliefs.
One should always keep an open mind and take in all sides of any argument, as there are always two or more sides to any argument on any subject.

And that's why I have such mixed emotions about the  subject of "abortion".
A lot of the arguments, pro and con, regarding the practice and it's legal status each have their own valid points to make.
And this is also why I usually try to avoid the subject as well
...beccause I still can't really make up my mind on it.

Although I think, personally, the practice should still remain legal
...if only to keep it off the "black market".
...and because reality isn't "black-and-white" perfect---there'll always be "circumstances".

Don't Cyber-Fence Me In

A number of things I've noticed about a lot of blog sites, irrespective of whatever niche they happen to be catering to:
---They always have numerous links to other blog sites put together by folks who have interests and viewpoints almost identical to theirs
---The presence of the logos of on-line aggregational "membership" networks (i.e.: Progressive Bloggers; Independent Fashion Bloggers; and others of that ilk)
---The tendency of those who regularly leave comments on their sites to kowtow to the blogger and practically "ape" the viewpoints of said blogger or to be in complete agreement with whatever's stated in the blogpost.
---The tendency of the blogger and other commenters to savage and radically chide anyone who expresses viewpoints contrary to or different than the ones generally "agreed-upon" by the other participants.

All but a few of the reasons I myself act alone and independently as a blogger.
I do not affiliate myself with any kind of group, club, faction, or organization of any kind, either on-line or out in the world itself
...this enables me the freedom to write whatever I feel or am thinking at the time I create a post, without having to feel committed to any type of ideology or obliged to "be loyal towards" any kind of belief system
...and also frees me from any concerns about who I might be offending, since I only need to represent myself.

You see, cliques and niches and demographics---they're a lot like nations and territories and governments
...they each have their own set of rules you have to abide by as well as their own Gregorianesque rhetoric of doctrines you're expected to repeat over-and-over and believe unconditionally.

To me, having a blog site is the ultimate opportunity for me to "break loose" and say a lot of the things that are running through my mind constantly.
It's the "ticket" to my own freedom-of-personal-expression since face-to-face I tend to be very reserved and "secretive" about the things I feel and of my honest opinions on a lot of subjects.
The last thing I would ever want to do on-line is to give myself over to some cyber-sect and have them "regulating" what's okay for me to say on what's supposed to be my own site.
Frankly, I think there's enough of that sort of thing already in the real world itself, what with work and family and community and such.
The internet should be a refuge of sorts in my opinion, not just another set of "shackles" and "chains".

Cliques and demographic organizations are for the bonafide socialite type who's existence has always been about "living-for-others" anyway.
...but they're not for me---neither on-line or off.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Fully Fulfilled Life

I read an article recently about a caretaker for the elderly who routinely volunteers her time at various nursing homes, who took it upon herself to casually interview some of the patients she cares for.

She asked them about what they "regretted the most in life".

Some of the answers they gave:

---Playing it too safe. Not taking risks, not trying to be more adventurous. Not letting loose and just-getting-wild. Winding up stuck in a routine lifestyle.

---Not having been more honest about their feelings and opinions. Keeping their thoughts to themselves to keep from hurting others' feelings

---Having lived more "for others" and not enough for themselves. Putting their lives "on hold" for the sake of someone else.

---Not standing up for themselves. Caving in to the wishes of others.

The thing that struck me is how these people tended to blame themselves for the way life, more-or-less, had "short-changed" them.
"...I wish I had...", "...I should have...", "if only I had/hadn't...", "I never should have..."

The way I see it, if your life didn't turn out the way you wished it would've it's not necessarily your fault.
One's society puts a lot of demands on them and has expectations of them.

There are all kinds of rules, laws, and obligations a person is expected to abide by
...starting with one's childhood and meeting the demands made on you by your parents
---then, later, teachers and other adult authority figures.

And then there are all the prototypes you're expected to fit into one or more of,
plus others tend to judge you by how you behave, what you accomplish, and how well you fall in with the "system".

There are all kinds of dogmas, stigmas, and prejudices towards acts and behaviors considered improper, heretical, and irresponsible-and-reckless.
If you do anything to ruin your reputation in any way you end up ostracized and disavowed by those around you.

There's always an invisible "ball-and-chain" society puts on the individual.
Shirking or defying your obligations and expectations can often result in severe penalties, whether legal or social/interpersonal.

In hindsight you may wish you were braver and had the nerve to just "cut loose" and embrace your individuality more and just let yourself go and "be crazy"
...but you're forgetting a few odds-and-ends of society's recent past:
for example, back in the 1950s/60s/70s they still had mental institutions and psychiatric wards and society's rules were a lot stricter then as well.
What do you think would have happened if you actually DID "cut loose and live" at that time?
You could have STILL lost a good deal of your "better years" as a mental patient and would up labeled "crazy", a label which harbored a lot of stigma back then.

And had you not disciplined yourself intensely to meet their expectations back then do you think you could have had what it took to take on college and eventually got that degree which enable you to pursue the profession(s) of your interests?

And if you DID take it upon yourself to "blow off" everyone around you back then those friends of yours may very well have written-you-off and moved on to other relationships.
You'd have your independence and would have been freer to pursue some of your wild fantasies
...but, when the novelty of your maverickism finally wore off, and, tired and disillusioned, you finally wanted to settle into a more stable lifestyle, who would you have used as character references when filling out job applications, being that you and all of your former friends were now estranged?
Would you have had to settle for menial jobs or even wind up living-in-the-streets instead of being reasonably sucessfully employed in a decent-paying profession?

And could you have emotionally handled all the interpersonal discord that would have developed as a result of your "speaking your mind" and sparing no-one's feelings in the name of "being more true to yourself"?

We are all the results of our culture, our upbringing, the circumstances we find ourselves under---as well as the consequences of certain personal choices we ourselves make.
...and let us not forget how often we are, more-or-less, sort of "extorted" into having to make certain decisions about what we do or don't do
...and how many things society will not allow us to get away with.

"Is there anybody who can look back on their life and still not be left wanting something?"
(Line stolen from a Korean drama HOTELIER)

I know I'll feel resentful and dissatisfied with my own existence getting closer and closer to my ultimate physical demise, and that's an attitude I feel is perfectly normal
...this world is not custom-made for ANYONE.
But I know not to put the blame on myself
...because this world is one that really delights in jacking people around, even when all they're trying to do is "just live", let alone trying to do anything special or extraordinary
...and all of us are under-the-thumb of every institution in our society, and THAT affects how our lives turn out as well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Top-40 Radio

Not the way it is now...
             ...I'm talking about the Top-40 radio of the sixties.

I know radio back in the 1960s was gimmickry and sophomoric (being "teen-themed"), and the disc-jockeys were essentially the adolescent-themed incarnation of all the hosts of late-afternoon dinnertime/pre-prime-time children's cartoon shows, but instead of being "clowns" "sailors" and "farmers" these record-spinning radio hosts were slick shades-wearing "cool guys" all out to one-up each other to see who could "win over" the most listeners.

Okay, so like any other corporate venture the underlying motive was essentially to "make money"
---but yet there was enough egoism amongst those in the business that it also became a "contest" to see who's station could put together the best programming, who among the on-air personalities has the most charisma and can "woo in" the most loyal following of steady radio listeners, who's jingles are the catchiest, who's station can assemble the most interesting "program patterns" so as to give that particular station the "edge"---and other such crafty trickeries.
And it worked!
And that's why this time-frame of the-history-of-the-media has attained such a legacy status in the annals of history.

What made it work?
It was the merging of both corporate and creative elements and the way so many crafty mindsets willingly and enthusiastically went out of their way to figure out the best ways to synergize both the commercial and the clever-and-catchy to create that smooth harmonious blend of both which seemed to just "flow" out of one's radios so effortlessly and almost always so on-cue as well.

The concepts of "credibility" and "professionalism" were important during that period of time, so everyone's egos were on-the-line---resulting in all these efforts at on-air perfectionism.
Attracting more listeners=more revenue for the station and/or it's parent company.
But I'm willing to bet there was also a certain amount of pride they took in "a job well-done".

Of course let us not forget about the music itself.
Back then ANYBODY could have a "hit record":
be it The Beatles, The Supremes...or Louie Armstrong, Bobby Daren...or The Kinks, or Rita Pavone...
or The Righteous Brothers, The Four Tops, The Four Seasons, or Julie Rodgers...Richard Harris or Steppenwolf...The Beach Boys or The Doors...Leslie Gore or Martha & the Vandellas...The 5th Dimension or Cream...The Cowsills or Bob Dylan...Petula Clark or Wilson Pickett...Procol Harum or Tom Jones...even the "easy-listening" sounds of Henry Mancini and Paul Mauriat...
there was definitely the "variety" factor.

These days radio is too "robotic" with "pre-rigged" playlists which all seem way-too-redundant to be captivating enough to hold one's interest.
Certainly not in the way it could some 45 (give-or-take) years ago.

Another Adage

Stereotyping is the domain of the ignorant, the bigoted, authorities, and the ruling class
---factions who are all about "judging people".

Sunday, April 1, 2012

About Global Warming

Some of you may wonder what my views are on certain subjects which often get a lot of attention from both the media and the academic sectors, as often I randomly take on any number of various subject matters to express my perspectives on (whether or not I really know enough about the subject matter itself is another thing).

One subject one reads and hears about a lot is a phenomenon referred to as Global Warming...
...the notion that all the unnatural alterations of the landscapes done by humans for the sake of "progress" and "civilization" along with the introduction into the collective physical environment of manmade chemicals, materials, and unnatural combinations of natural materials which doesn't normally occur in nature---alongside discharges of toxic chemical wastes of materials, gases, and liquids not found in nature, or of combinations of natural materials not normally found in nature...
...the notion that the prolonged presence of those elements have resulted in throwing a lot of nature's ecosystems and their patterns off-balance jeopardizing the overall health and well-being of both the planet itself and the lifeforms it's been endowed by nature to support.

That's the basic theory of those who support the notion of Global Warming.

Of course there are also those who debunk the above notion, either contending some of the current global patterns are a result of "millennium patterns" that have never been historically recorded due to the great time span between events, or that the changes noted by environmentalists are not as profound as they claim them to be.

what are MY views on this subject?
Frankly I think it's a combination of all of these factors.

On the one hand I don't discount the presence of natural phenomenon playing a role in all of the changes in certain environmental patterns---there may be longstanding "once-every-six-hundred year" events we're still not aware of yet due to the short time we've dwelled on the North American continent and also due to the fact that, overall, we've only been consciously keeping track of weather patterns and such for a few hundred years now at best.

However I also believe in the phenomenon of "cause-and-effect" and see no reason not to believe that mankind's alterations and desecrations of various natural landscapes over the period of centuries could easily throw nature's balance way off and cause adverse reactions on the part of nature herself in response to being mutilated and "reinvented" not according to her preprogrammed intents and purposes.

A lot of what's currently happening in the natural physical environment is, most likely, a mix of ongoing natural patterns as well as the consequences of the damages incurred over the decades from all of the manmade activities which unduly altered the world's collective landscapes and seascapes.

It would be to the collective benefit for those in the scientific communities to actually do some serious investigative research on this phenomenon
...however, these days everything has become so "political"---even the sciences themselves.
It seems even among even the most academic factions there's partiality towards certain kinds of idealistic beliefs
...and what happens in the scientific communities is that their analysis is seldom impartial and based solely on whatever facts they find.
They'll alter even their own findings to "fit in with" whatever their belief systems happen to be.

If the group of scientists have "conservative" beliefs they'll find a way to "demonstrate" the follies of those who believe Global Warming is a real problem and concern, and "show the notion of Global Warming to be a hoax".

Likewise, a group of scientists who have more "liberal" leanings will find a way to "prove" EVERYTHING has some connection to Global Warming---even attributing certain ongoing natural patterns to be "a result of" Global Warming.

But what is needed is for all good minds to get their heads together and do some honest investigative research on this subject and try to arrive at some kind of feasible solution based on solid facts.

But that probably will never happen the way everyone is so divisive amongst themselves due to the political and religious dogmatisms that dominate their mindsets and attitudes.

Debunking Another Piece Of American Mythology

You've heard it said:
How the United States "is the world's 'melting pot'"?

Actually the U.S. is a hodge-podge.

How, you may ask, is a hodge-podge different from a "melting pot"?

Well, a "melting pot" implies unity and harmoniousness among it's various factions...
...whereas a hodge-podge is merely a coexistence of various factions in any one given area without the necessity of compatibility and harmony between them
...which means there can also be discord and conflict between any two-or-more of these individual factions.

Which, in my opnion, is a more accurate portrayal of the social climates of the United States.

Government-Ordained Cyber-Spying

I've been reading a lot of articles about governments authorizing on-line surveillance of internet activities
...and the paranoid contentions about the ramifications of such activities that come with them.

While I have no doubt about the capacity of today's technology for accomplishing the task of acquiring information of the online activities of just about every internet user in the world, one must still keep in mind there are at least 40-million+plus people on those "interwebs".

Getting information about their various online activities isn't the challenge.
It's processing all this information.

Any kind of information from any kind of source still has to be interpreted and perused
...especially if any of it's going to be scrutinized in any way.

Which brings up a few questions:
Who are the ones these governments are going to hire and "bring in" to perform this formidable task of such gargantuan portions?
Just how much personnel will be needed to monitor all these cyber-transactions in the search for select "suspicious", "inappropriate", "offensive", "heretical", or otherwise "unacceptable" activities?
What qualifications will such persons have to have to qualify for those type of positions?
How much will it cost these governments to carry out these "monitoring" activities of theirs?
What about the wages and benefits of the personnel who carry out these tasks?

...last, but not least...
How is it ever going to be possible to catch all but a handful of whatever these governments deem "undesirable" activities?

Are these illustriously grandiose proposals being made in the name of "internet regulating" even feasible
...even by all these all-powerful governments of the world?
...Are they REALLY going to be able to pull all of this off?