Saturday, June 30, 2012

The 4th of July

I'm not too keen on holidays as a rule.  I tend to find them quite disruptive.  But that's probably arbitrary as I'm a single person, and single people depend more on routine and on outside factions maintaining their general protocols so as to be easier to navigate around---as a single person I'm frequently interjecting all my responsibilities, constantly trying to figure out how to "time them out" so as to put as much behind me as I can. 
When one is single they don't have the luxury of lovers, roommates, or relatives they can cajolically "enslave" to perform some of their "domestic mandates" for them so as to lessen their workload---when you're single and something "needs to be taken care of" it's all on YOU to do it.
And when one of those bullshit "holidays" come around everybody "closes shop" and everything comes to a stop, save for activities sorrounding the festivities of said holiday...which can throw your "patterns" off and cause you a certain degree of psycho-disarray.

The Fourth of July...the celebration of the date (in 1776) in which this country officially became a "nation" in it's own right.  The day this land officially, by written decree, added itself to the list of "recognized nations", joining the ranks of England, France, Japan, China, Egypt and others...although, at the time, those overseas had yet to be as "accepting" of this as we were.
These days I have such mixed emotions about celebrating the origins and beginnings of a country that, essentially, seems to have "given up on itself".
This country has quite a rich history, as well as plenty of it's own legacies---an impressive past a nation should be proud of.
But, for about the past 30 years or so, it seems that it's been resting on the laurels of that past instead of doing anything to further improve itself fact, anymore it doesn't even seem to able to maintain any of it's own creations anymore. 
It's failed---or continues to be failing---to maintain it's own industries (all the lay-offs, the unemployment crisis), it's own institutions (from Social Security to NASA to the Postal Services)'s failed to even maintain it's own physical makeup---the highways, roads, bridges, and buildings are in chronic disrepair, to the point of being hazardous to the general public; it's infrastructure's neglected and forgotten about a lot of it's historic sites, even building commercial and residential properties on top of a lot of those sites.  And as for the ones that are still recognized, a lot of them have become inaccessable to the general public due to the fact that they are part of state park systems, a lot of which are closing down due to lack of funds---an example of how reckless and irreverant those-in-charge are toward this country's own monetary system that thay can no longer treat it like something essential and important---they can only waste it and flaunt it on frivolous projects, but when funds are needed for what matters the money is suddenly lacking.

This country has it's priorities in the wrong order, for sure: 
Everything that was ever right with it and right about it---any amenities it ever had, any of the "saving graces" it had which could justify putting up with the hardships and whatever drawbacks there are to living here have been systematically and incrementally disbanded and dissolved bit-by-bit
...while, at the same time, all of it's iniquities, all of it's "crap stuff"---not only has it exemplified and embraced them, but this country continues to increase those unsavory elements of itself in size and intensity
While everyone continues to lose their jobs, their benefits, their opportunities to live a decent life---while they keep shutting down national parks, closing schools, shutting down art museums, closing libraries
...while they continue to cut funding to essential government services and organizations---from NASA to retirement and medical benefits for government workers
...while they continue to allow the essential infrastructure---highways, bridges, sewer pipes, underground and aboveground utility pipes and wires and cables---to deteriorate from neglect and indifference
...While they continue doing that, we have plenty of:
gangs taking over our cities; corrupt politics and politicians; greedy large business owners getting even more wealthy overcharging consumers for the faulty products their companies are making and laying off workers and either putting production on automation or building factories in countries with lower worker wages and lax safety and environmental regulations; brand new jails and prisons being built all the time; illicit drugs; a free-flowing and poorly regulated gun trade; corruption among not only officials and authorities but among private citizens as well.

The United States continues to chant it's mantra of "freedom, rights and liberty"
...especially that of "personal liberty"---which is actually little more than license to "refuse to be 'integral'"...that is, to believe oneself to be an "independent entity" existing in their own right solely for their own sake instead of accepting the fact that they're "only one among 40 billion other people"...and that unless you're an "Einstein" of some kind you're just not ever going to be anyone special.  A realization the ever-overinflated American ego just can't handle.

Like I said, I have mixed emotions about whether or not to embrace this here "Fourth-of-July" celebration
...on the one hand the U.S. definitely has more than it's fair share of lush history and noteworthy legacies which and who by themselves still justify a cause-for-celebration
...on the other hand, this poor country has degenerated SO MUCH in the past three-or-so decades I just can't seem to get too "excited" about living here or embracing it anymore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Social-conscious" songs of the 60s

One of the "landmarks" of the rock-and-roll era is the influx of "anti-war" and "social commentary" songs, especially during the mid-to-late-'60s and early-'70s

Even The Beatles put in their "two-cents worth" with the likes of ELEANOR RIGBY, FOOL ON THE HILL and REVOLUTION.

Some of the more-overlooked in this category are by recording artists who were either veterans of prior musical eras, or in the general category of "romantic easy-pop", for example, WHAT COLOR IS A MAN, a minor hit for Bobby Vinton in late 1965.
But even more surprising are three entries by Frankie Lane, Ed Ames (one of the Ames Brothers---who had a number of romantic "adult-contemporary" style pop hits during the '50s), and Jimmie Rodgers (no, not the legendary "yodeler"---the folk/country/pop singer who gave us KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE, HONEYCOMB and others like those) first it might be assumed that since these recording acts were not actually ones who came-of-age during the 60s, but before, either during the '50s or even the late'40s, that their entries in the "social conscious" category might be lame or even "patronizingly tokenistic"---but, actually these songs of theirs were, ironically, among the BEST ones in this otherwise-late-'60s trend.
...the songs in question are as follows:  YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN---Frankie Laine's early-1969 top-25 hit; WHO WILL ANSWER? Ed Ames' profoundly inquisitive late-1967/early-1968 poetic masterpiece; and CHILD OF CLAY---Jimmie Rodger's lyrical profile of a failure-in-life and how his chances for something better got thwarted by the misfortunes of being born into a bad domestic environment coupled with unfavorable circumstances (from late-'67)

The Bob Dylan songs, Paul Simon songs, and Phil Oachs songs may be the kind of songs which get the most attention when it comes to "social conscious" type of songs, but I promise you some of the best ones in this category are those I just mentioned above by Ed Ames, Bobby Vinton, Jimmie Rodgers, and Frankie Lane.

Of course the R&B sector had it's contributions as well:
...THE DOCK OF THE BAY by Otis Redding
...and Motown: CLOUD NINE, BALL OF CONFUSION, PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE, DON'T LET THE JONE'S GET YOU DOWN by TheTemptations; Stevie Wonder's version of Bob Dylan's BLOWING IN THE WIND; FRIENDSHIP TRAIN by Gladys Knight & the Pips; WHAT'S GOING ON?, MERCY MERCY ME, INNER-CITY BLUES by Marvin Gaye; STONED LOVE by The Supremes (Jean Terrel, lead vocalist---after Diana Ross left the group).
...and, of course, the Staples Singers---taking a hiatus from their gospel roots to infuse a little "message pop/soul" into the air waves.

And let's not overlook country music's contribution to this period:
SKIP-A-ROPE by Henson Cargill (1968), WHAT IS TRUTH by Johnny Cash (1970)
...even "funnyman" Ray Stevens got serious a few times with UNWIND, MR. BUSINESSMAN (both from 1968) and EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL (1970)---although BEAUTIFUL is not exactly one of my favorite Ray Stevens songs...for one thing, the songtitle is too generalizing---not everything is beautiful and neither is everyone...some things are, in fact, terrible and abominable---and so are some people as well.

The "British Invasion" contributed a few as well
Manfred Mann's version of Dylan's WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE
...Donovan's version of Buffy St-Marie's UNIVERSAL SOLDIER
...and The Animal's SKY PILOT---a true "anti-war anthem" masterpiece.  The Doors (who were an American group, of course) came out with an offering of theirs in this category, THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER---but, compared to SKY PILOT, that song is so lame and tepid.

Of course the "social conscious" themed song was not an invention of the rock-and-roll era by any means
...during the depression-era 1930s you had songs like HEY BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? as well as others by the likes of Woody Guthrie and such
...and The Weavers had their hits in the 1950s

And speaking of Pete Seeger, let's not forget WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?---The Kingston Trio's version (1962) and Johnny Rivers (1965)...and, of course, TURN TURN TURN by The Byrds from late-1965.

...and there were a handful of "social conscious" songs from the early '60s
---only a sporadic number of such in the early '60s, yes
...but what few there were around this period were still quite noteworthy
...especially THE BIG BATTLE by Johnny Cash, from the spring of 1962.  This profound "anti-war anthem" masterpiece was recorded and released on the COLUMBIA records label at about the same time that record company was signing on a young gifted poet-laureate singer-songwriter from Minnesota---who was fresh from the Greenwich Village scene in NYC---by the name of Robert Zimmerman, but who went by the stagename of Bob Dylan (after the famous poet Dylan Thomas).
...even if you're familiar with most of Johnny Cash's other songs, if you haven't heard THE BIG BATTLE you're missing something special's a "must-hear".

"WAR---What is it good for?...Absolutely NOTHIN'!"  Yes, Edwin "Double-O-Soul" Starr---summer of 1970.  And UNDUN and GUNS GUNS GUNS by The Guess Who deserves being noted in the "social conscious" song category as well...

2012: "The Year We Almost Lost Colorado Springs"?

1966...that was "the year we almost lost Detroit", when the Detroit Edison Fermi 1 nuclear power plant experienced a partial meltdown and, from what we now understand, nearly exploded.
They were able to only partially "resurrect" the plant before they were finally forced to shut it down for good in 1972.

Flash forward 40 years...the big threat now is prolonged drought in a part of the country which is quasi-desert in nature and already known for it's "low humidity levels" and high winds, in combination with the notorious modern-day practices of overbuilding and suburban sprawl syndrome
...and the end results are huge wildfires usurping everything around them---including communities: all the fancy "reclusive" two-story homes and small businesses that comprise them.

Yes, it's time for mother nature to "reclaim" some of the territory we stole from her to use for our own selfish purposes
...perhaps part of a "300 year pattern" we're unaware of (and if the previous inhabitants of this territory were aware of such patterns they sure-as-hell were not about to tell us about them, not after the way we forced them out to "make room for" our then-"new society")
...or is it part of this "global warming" we've been hearing and reading so much about? Are the artificial alterations mankind has been making to the collective landscapes the past 150 years or so really having that much of a profound effect on the health and functionalitisms of the planet's normal "patterns"?
...or---is it a combination of all these factors, plus more?

I've been through these areas lots of times before in my life---in fact I even lived in eastern Colorado for brief periods a couple times...only about 70 miles give-or-take from "the Springs" (as those from there call the city)
...I know what all is there as well...Castle Rock...Palmer Lake/Monument...the Air Force Academy...Interstate 25...all the Taco Bells, McDonalds, Villiage Inn Restaurants, Burger Kings, Hardees...Colorado College, Academy Boulevard, The Citadel Mall, Bijou Street, Platte Avenue, Peterson Airfield (both the municipal airport and the air force base)...U.S. 24..., to me, it's kind of "spooky" to be reading about all this on MSN and watching it on CNN.

I'm hoping 2012 only turns out to be nothing more than "the year we almost lost Colorado Springs" and not one in which we set a world's record as "the first year we actually lost a major U.S. city to a natural disaster"
...New Orleans in 2005 was bad enough...

Urban Priorities

Let's get this straight:  if I play my stereo (or even television) too loud I stand to risk getting into legal trouble for "disturbing the peace" or violating some kind of "noise ordinance"...

...but, living in an urban environment, I sort of wonder what their definition of the word "peace" is.

Does it mean that the majority of those who reside in an urban environment prefer to hear loud engines, honking horns, loud-mouth people shouting back-and-forth toward one another, the "serenade" of jackhammers and screeching tires and pounding hammers and construction equipment, emergency sirens screaming by 3 times an hour 24/7---instead of the stray sounds of someone's music or television dialogue?

...that a plethora of chronic non-stop capriciously cacophonic shit-fucking noise is pleasing to their ears
---while structured sounds comprising harmonious notes and chords, steady rhythms, and formally intricate arrangements are considered "offensive" and "unacceptable"?

Urban dwellers are a twisted bunch wonder the gangs and corrupt officials rule the cities so much.

People are too sexually obsessed

I don't know about you, but it seems like every time I take a look at any kind of media source---be it the internet, a cable news channel, the newspapers---there's always a story about some kind of sex scandal.
From the sudden surge in the "discovery of" all those Catholic priests who "have a yen for underage male congregation members"---and whose activities have, inexplicitly, gone collectively unnoticed for decades---starting from about 15 years ago or so and beyond, and still continuing to make news even to this day this sudden surge in the number of high school teachers who see fit to carry on romantic and/or sexual relationships with one of their students.
Why are stories like those grabbing so much of the general public's attention? can there be so many foolish and reckless people---a lot of them well-educated and coming from good backgrounds (social-class-wise)?
It's because everyone is so obsessed with anything that has to do with "sexual matters".
For some reason people have problems dealing with their true inner desires
---it's like they're frightened by this fragment of their own being they dogmatize and stigmatize it. They try to categorize it as some sort of "separate entity" which has a realm of it's own, unrelated to the more "normal" aspects of their being.
It's like sexual desires are some sort of crux (or, maybe, even curse) one has to suffer and endure as a consequent of "being alive".

Then, of course, there are plenty of those who celebrate and embrace it.
These are (usually) the privileged, physically attractive and charismatic type for whom "sex" works
...meaning when they have urges and desires there's a better chance of those desires actually being met more-often-than-not.
For them sex is an "ultimate pleasure" and is equated with fun, feeling good, and "partying"---and even considered "recreational personal pasttime".

But for those for whom "sexual matters" don't work to their advantage---or for whom it yields mediocre results---there's a sort of "inner resentment" towards sex as a subject they tend to put all the world's evils onto anything related to "sex"
"Sex" gets equated with violence, criminal activity, lazy irresponsible behaviors, drug addiction and alcoholism, and all things immoral and indecent.

Most people become so militantly self-righteous when confronted by stories of serial rapists or child molesters, behaving as if they've suddenly "come clean" from whatever transgressions they may have committed themselves in their past and are now "appointed by God himself" to pass their moral judgment on the accused suspect.

Paradoxically enough, though, the eternal omni-presence of "sex offenders" is probably as much a product of this culture's "sexual obsession" as is any of the dogmas or stigmas that surround the subject itself...maybe even, in part, because of the stigmas and attitudes toward the subject itself.
With the subject being as "important" as it is in this culture, and with all the subversive eroticalistic influences all around us at all times, it makes it that much easier for one to become obsessed with it
...especially those without the aptitude or emotional stamina to properly deal with their thoughts and intimate desires.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why is being "mentally ill" such a big deal?

When people think of those considered "mentally ill" all kinds of images and prototypes come to mind: the "zoned-out" loonies who talk to themselves constantly; the dangerous loose-cannon psychopath; the chronically hallucinating schizophrenic; the "antisocial"; the "ever-removed-from-the-world-around-them" autistics.

You'll notice the psycho-chasm most people put between themselves and those labeled "mentally ill" if the mentally ill were, somehow, not human or something---or at least "human" in the same sense as the average "everyday" type person.

In my view, I actually think it's the other way around
...if anything, those with psychiatric issues often tend to be a little TOO human
Think about it:  they tend to be quite sensitive to society's iniquities...they get depressed and distraught in a heartbeat if they experience any kind of mistreatment or condescending attitudes...they're more aware and observant of their surroundings---not always exactly in the most positive way: often noises and environmental nuances (both natural and artificial) most people don't readily notice might either disturb them or entice them in some way...a lot of them are quite emotive---far more so than any average "normal" person could ever be. A lot of times to the point of hysteria (or beyond). Someone with psychiatric issues are far more apt to "fall apart" when "life deals them dirty low blows" than most any "normal" type will...human frailty---the mentally ill are full of them:  they're very impulsive, extremely hedonistic, can be greedy, not concerned with how their actions and behaviors will affect others, have a knack for losing thier inhibitions at the most inopportune times.

Seriously, I think it's the sane, normal people who are not human
...consider what "robo-heads" most people are:  there are about 7 different personality prototypes to choose from.  And whichever one someone chooses they adopt the personna, opinions, dress code, viewpoints, lifestyles, interests and demeanor of that prototype---and, more often than not, also the gender and race base of said prototype as well least a lot of the mentally ill are individualists, if nothing else. A lot of them are quite eccentric and idiosyncratic.

With all the dress-alikes, sound-alikes, speak-alikes, think-alikes, behave-alikes, and the lack-of-variety that exists among the general population---in spite a world population of about 40 billion+
...who are the ones one might consider to be "not human"?

Sometimes I think that, for example, when a normal person goes in for surgery (due to serious injury or illness) and the surgeon cuts them open, it's not to work on any internal organs---it's to remove a damaged or defective circuit board, which they hand over to the on-duty hospital electrician to troubleshoot and, hopefully, they're not forced to try to create a duplicate replacement.
You see, the truth about all these normal, average, "socially-correct" people you see all around you anywhere you go:  They're all actually a bunch of Frankensteins---arificial creations. They're not real living creations after all.
The "freaks" and "weirdos" are the only REAL people who exist
...but individuality leads to discord, and those who have their own mind and can think for themselves are harder for governments to control---so that's why the world had to invent these "normal" type robots...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If you REALLY want things to last...

Take your brand new pair of shoes, for example...
You want them to remain nice-looking, slick and clean, soles and heels unworn and intact?
...Then never, ever, wear them or walk around outside with them on your feet.

Remember...actually using things for whatever they were "designed to be used for" is what invariably does them in.
Consumer products were not created to ever seriously be actually used.  They're usually simply "status symbols" or mantel pieces intended to transform one's residence into some sort of "personal museum" of sorts.

It's true...

Like your microwave oven...
If you're constantly heating up food and drinks in it, lo-and-behold, one day:  It craps out on you!  And then you have to replace it.
...However, if you never use it---you just let it sit on the counter and simply "marvel at how handsome it looks in your kitchen", never touching it except to occasionally dust it off---it'll STILL work, even 20 years down the line, should anyone decide they want to heat a cup of coffee or cook a TV dinner in it (just this one time, of course).

And that car of yours...
It's purely "status symbol".
Should you ever get the idea of actually using it for transportation, you should know that, by doing so, you run a potential risk of wrecking it.  And, if you were to somehow get into the habit of constantly using it for the purpose of transporting yourself (or even others along with you) from one place to another, you would find bits and pieces of it either wearing out from overuse---or even getting damaged by environmental elements you run into en-route from one point to another.
Hence, you just want to leave it in the driveway and simply keep it cleaned and polished---after all, most vehicles are "for show" anyway.  If you don't believe me, think about how many perform when called upon to actually transport their operators from "point A" to "point B".

And what about the computer you're presently viewing this site on?
Don't you know the only way to make a computer last is to rarely turn it on
...and, even then, any time you do, never do anything with it beyond playing solitaire or downloading music files from your own CD collection
...forget ever hooking it up to the internet and "going online".  Most web sites have so much "clutter" on them (via ads, videos, and links) they'll invariably strain the search engine into oblivion
...not to mention that, on top of this, there's also the potential for possible exposure to computer viruses which could program your computer to "destroy it's inner-workings"...if your computer gets "cyber-scammed" into committing "cyber-suicide" it'll just become a useless pile of plastic and circuit panels.
So...if you want your computer to last years...just never use it...except, maybe, once-in-a-blue-moon...

It makes you wonder...why do some things even exist if all they're going to do is fall apart or break down when you call upon them to do anything?

One Size Fits All

As some of you may or may not know, I'm one of those "low-income" bracket types.
And, as such, I recieve a certain degree of public assistance from the state I live in when it comes to select "essentials"
...among them help with my heating bills during the cold weather months.

Somehow, though, along with this state-funded assistance I recieve I've also been put on the gas company's "budget plan"---wherein I pay a reduced amount for eight months out of the year, then get taken off for four---during which whatever I owe is paid out of whatever I have on my "credit".

My problem with this method is---since I'm already getting state-sponsored assistance it seems somewhat unnecessary for the gas company to be putting me on their own "plan", especially since they use some kind of generic criteria for determining how much to bill me during the "budget" period as well as for how long to allow the "credit" to handle my bills.
I'm thinking they base their notions on the stereotypical "family-of-four" living in a two-bedroom one-story house, or something along that line.  How much, hypothetically, it's liable to cost them for so-and-so many units of gas, based on some "rounded figure" concocted by some academiatory "think tank"---or whatever...

What I'm attempting to say is...the state sends the "assistance" funds to the gas company itself, the gas company adds the funds to my "credit" amount...
...and yet they still leave me on the same "one-size-fits-all" "budget" program of theirs... what ends up happening is:
...let's say the state decides to award me $320 to "help me out with my heating bills for the winter"... gets added to my "credit"...but I still continue to be billed the "budget" amount each month (averaging between $60 and $72 mo.)
...finally, in April, the "budget" is temporarily discontinued for four months, and whatever I now have on "credit" takes care of whatever it is I'm actually owing for my monthly gas services.

Well, my actual gas usage doesn't really come to very much.  It turns out I'm only using between $30 to $55 worth of natural gas during any given month a result, over the past few years the amount of "public assistance" funds that have been accumulating on my gas company "credit" has  finally managed to reach $600+ would think that, logically, the gas company itself should, maybe, hold off on reinstating the monthly "budget" payment dues for me...
...not a chance. Even with $600+ on my "credit", they'll probably STILL start billing me $60+ per month, starting in August---a good two months or so before it normally starts actually getting cold.

The way I see it is:  Everything is computer-controlled now.  There are a handful of employees who's primary job is programming a bunch of "code numbers" into these computers, using whatever "code numbers" are on whatever documents they're basing said computer program on
...and each of the different computer programs have their own "code numbers" which, when pressed, automatically plug into a ready-made "one-size-fits-all" pattern loosely based on certain stereotypical assumptions surrounding the "average" recipients of said select programs or services (were you able to follow all that?)

In short, my complaint about the way the gas company bills me eight months out of twelve is that it's not based on my own personal's based on what is best for, say, a family of four living in a one-story two-bedroom house, not on a single person residing in a small apartment unit.
...which is why, in spite of still having $600+ or so on "credit", I'll still start getting charged $60 or $65+ per month before even the end of summer
...and that it's all yet another example of the perils of modern-day "high tech" addiction/dependency---that one can no longer expect those-in-charge to make appropriate amendments to fit any arbitrary personal situations of theirs
...everything has been mandatorily "genericized", and no matter who you are or what you do or what you're all about, you can still expect to be forced into some kind of "one-size-fits-all" pattern.

I don't agree that "high tech" has made life any easier.  In fact, in a lot of respects, I think it's made things a lot worse, actually.

Having it too good for too long

If you really want to try to figure out how so much has managed to go wrong with this country in these recent decades, then one might note this phenomenon:
When one attains, obtains, or recieves something of value or something precious---something longed-for and prized---they, at first, are very careful with their prize or acquisition.  They tend to be gentle with it and cautious about how they handle it. They exhibit a lot of reverance toward this "newly-acquired" of theirs.
However, as time goes by, they get more and more used to this item and start taking it for granted as it's now simply another part of their day-to-day existence.
And, in doing so, they also tend to start getting a little reckless with it and sometimes even handle it carelessly as this item starts taking on the appearance of having resilience and of being impervious to circumstance and surroundings.
And that's where they make the "fatal mistake" and bring on the demise of this valuable item (or situation)
---the longer you have something, the more it'll start "showing it's age"...and the rougher you handle something, the shorter it's potential "life span" will be.

And that's the case with the the prosperity and high "international status" the United States has been enjoying since the end of World War II.
After so many years we had gotten so used to this privileged position of ours that we no longer gave it any second thoughts.  We were so used to taking it for granted it just seemed like an eternal "given"---something that'll simply "always be".
This eventually caused us to become reckless with our culture---it's social structures, it's traditions, it's laws, the economic structures, it's institutions, it's priorities...

We started becoming too "experimental"
...with our institutions:
~We started altering the structure and functionality of the public school systems...introducing strange new curriculum into our public schools:  like that "new math" stuff in the late-'60s, for example... and shortening the school-day by an hour or two...doing away with the recitation of the pledge-of-allegiance at the start of each schoolday for grade-school level classes...with plenty of other alterations to come over the years.
~We closed the mental institutions due to all the corruption and abuse involved in what was presumably the "treatment of" the "mentally ill"---while never coming up with a viable alternative to deal with a huge population of "socially incompatibles" who were suddenly descending onto the streets and common public areas.
~We saw fit to jack with years of carefully constructed regulations---some involving safety and environmental protection factors in industry---others involving the ethical conduct of businesses and financial institutions---figuring "things have progressed enough strict rules are no longer necessary", overlooking the fact that human nature---which was responsible for bringing on these regulations in the first place---is ancient enough it'll never "progress", and without a certain degree of external control will always resort back to it's original "primitive" form...which is to say: people will always "take advantage" and exploit whatever's(/whoever's) manipulatable.
...with our finances:
~We've been quite lavish with the grants we give our universities to conduct research with.  Honestly, how does society-in-general benefit from research involving "the gestation period of the average gnat"? ...or experiments on human subjects for the purpose of "determining the 'alcohol tolerance level' of different age groups"? ...these are worth millions of taxpayer dollars?
~initiating both tax cuts for high-income earners alongside spending cuts for government services---while making no effort to figuring out how to deal with whoever winds up being displaced by such radical policies.
~And even after initiating tax-cuts we still continue investing in: military projects of questionable merit; building more jails and prisons, while reducing or eliminating grants for things of cultural value that enhance the social climate (museums, preservation of historical sites, the upkeep of our national parks).
~Throwing money toward various law-enforcement agencies to combat drugs, sexually-related crimes, conduct surveillance on "individuals of interest"---even if the reasons are simply those of "a show of heretical attitudes and behaviors".  Meanwhile, none of these overzealous efforts have done anything to make this a safer society.  Just WHAT is anyone doing about gangs and corruption (in government, business, and even among private citizens themselves)?  It seems useless when, for example, all kinds of efforts will go towards monitoring some hapless "sex offender" who's wrongdoing was showing "dirty pictures" to grade-school-age kids or is some teenager with no sense of boundaries who got in trouble for "possessing nude pictures of a minor" and it turns out that "minor" was himself---in other words he got in trouble for "sexting"...sending nude pictures of himself to his girlfriend over the internet.  But yet roadragers are recieving short prison sentences or even just jail sentences.  They still never catch the majority of "identity thieves".  ...offenders whom I find FAR MORE menacing than some ditsily deranged teeny-bopper or some fool who's stupid enough to show adult subject matter to his buddy's young nephew.
...with our culture itself...
~The "loosening up" of the workplace.  To the point of practically doing away with professionalism.  Especially in the public service occupations.  When you eat out, do you appreciate a half-cocked server tattooed like a Hell's Angel donned in shorts and t-shirt with "attitude" he/she is not afraid to show? (What happened to health regulations, dress codes, or on-the-job etiquette?)  Or rude and condescending flight attendants and airlines that offer no perks (like in-flight snacks or meals or free coffee) or any other type of amenities to make your trip and the overall ambience more pleasurable?  And what about plumbers, home repair crews, and the like who make a mess and don't clean up after themselves?  And dirty laundromats with attendants who "couldn't care less"?  Stores with only one or two cashiers on duty resulting in long lines of customers?
~Too much arrogance, too much egotism.  Everybody's too damn self-important.  And too domineering to boot.  To the point of being hostile and contemptuous toward anyone who's "different" from themselves and their limited range of "think-alike" friends and lovers.  And people are way too thin-skinned...they demand too much "respect" from others---the slightest disparaging look, comment, or statement made about them and they're ready to sue.  And the expectations of special accommodations from others that harmonize with their beliefs, religions, and personal habits...sorry, but this world isn't "custom-made" for any one person---others shouldn't have to suffer just so you can have everything "your way".
~Everyone's too corrupt...not just government and industry, but, and even more so, the private citizen.  People act like such bonafide scofflaws and anarchists: the way they disregard traffic laws behind the wheel---speeding, running red lights, not slowing down or signalling when turning, not yielding to pedestrians...even bicyclists behave recklessly, running traffic signs and signals, and speeding on public sidewalks; the conspiracies people commit against each other---identity theft, computer hacking and computer viruses, gossiping and spreading vicious rumors about others, framing someone for a crime they didn't commit just for spite or out of feelings of animosity toward that other person; acts of blatant inconsideration---disregarding boundaries, hogging space in public places for themselves or their group, being excessively noisy in public or even at home when living in a multi-unit dwelling place (i.e.: apartments, duplexes), holding loud conversations in public places with disregard for others around them, excessive use of digital gadgets in public, especially when also engaged in critical tasks requiring their undivided attention (driving, walking, riding a bicycle), spitting onto public areas others also need to use---sidewalks, outdoor stairways, entranceways; and the industries who  ignore both ethics and regard for the safety of others---workplaces that ignore safety regulations and disregard safety procedures resulting in perpetual safety hazards for their employees, food processing plant owners and managers who don't keep their plants clean and constantly buck health-and-safety procedures---sometimes resulting in the customers who buy their products coming down with food poisoning, major businesses and financial institutions falsifying their records to cover up unauthorized or illicit activities.
~The tainting of the social climate.  Somehow, collectively, the vast majority of people seem, for the most part, to have lost their scruples.  I don't know whether or not this correlates with the decreasing role religions have been playing in American society along with not only the loss of interest in such but also the increasing contempt towards them by larger sects of the general public as well---although I don't feel it's my place to ever dictate to others about matters concerning their personal beliefs...but it's still a worthy speculation just the same. 
However, it's hard not to notice the radical and extreme social conduct exhibited by a lot of individuals:  road rage incidents; trigger-happy disgruntled types shooting up public places; "loose-knit" sexual conduct---promiscuous behaviors among young teens, the "gay communities" who make no secret of what kind of intimate behaviors they engage in between one another, magazine and newspaper articles which candidly discuss sexual activities and problems concerning such, and the sudden influx in the number of individuals being caught engaging in illicit sexual and sexually-oriented behaviors and conduct; how common rude behavior in general has become; how closed-minded, factional, and slanderous a lot of people are anymore; people cuss too much when they speak---yes I cuss myself, but every third or fourth word that comes out your mouth?; nothing is sacred anymore...people will steal if they think they have a good chance of getting away with it (embezzlement, burglary, taking things from tables and drawers of those they're visiting), frequent incidents of vandalisms of both public and private property, people throwing their garbage on the sidewalk or in other people's yards, disregarding boundaries---sitting on the porch of someone else's home and drinking and carrying on loud conversations, stalking others, engaging in harassing behaviors, making excessive noise during the early-morning hours; having to live in a culture inundated with drug addicts and drunks, inconsiderate aggressive loud-mouthed types, fearful paranoid types, thoughtless and inconsiderate asses I have to clean up or pick up after---or whose stupidity I have to endure, paternal/maternal authority types who make me paranoid of getting into a "compromising" situation I can't easily explain my way out of, and just an overall unpleasant and uncomfortable and noisy social climate where I can't trust anyone and where I feel I have to carry on my life "in defiance of" whatever's going on around me.

Back to this thread's original theme:  the fact that all of these factors are prime examples of the results of how we've become so reckless with this country of ours and of it's cultural aspects, nuances and history we've become so unappreciative of ourselves and everything around us to the point of not even remembering---and no longer caring---where we've been and where we came from, that we'd rather just live in our own little worlds and to hell with anything or anyone else.
...and, most of all, how we've gotten so used to having it so soft and of being able to take certain things so much for granted that we just assumed this country to be "self-sufficient" enough it doesn't need any input and efforts from us to make it's systems work...hence, we can just focus on our own hedonistic needs, desires, and wants---and even blindly expect the world around us to honor any demands we may make on it.

And that's why this country's falling apart...because it's being taken for granted, it's not appreciated, and---especially---it's being treated like shit by both it's citizens and it's leaders.
You can't treat something abusively and expect it to survive or endure---at least not without sustaining either some degree of damage or premature wear-and-tear.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Wholesale renting". Is there such a thing?

In case you haven't noticed, the price of renting an apartment or any other type of rental unit has become quite exorbitant in the last 10 years or so
...even a basic apartment building (i.e.: a building with just apartment units and nothing swimming pools, exercise rooms, or any other of the unnecessary frills that comprise a lot of the "classier" type apartment complexes).

Even the "value" of a lot of the older properties have been artificially inflated by the current-day housing market
...which, in turn, gives property owners who rent out their properties a rationale for either raising existing rent or, in the case of those who recently acquired rental properties, for charging a high rent right off the bat.

There's this concept known as "market" rent, which is a collective summary of what most landlords/landladies are charging per month for certain types of residential units (i.e.: efficiencies, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms, and so forth).
Somehow this has been adapted by rental property owners as the baseline criteria for what's appropriate to charge their tenants on a month-by-month basis.
For example: If "Clyde down the street" is charging $550 mo. for an efficiency unit and "Maggie" on the other side of town is charging $570 mo. for efficiencies in her building, then why should I be a fool and only charge $440 for similar units in my building? I'd be cheating myself out of at least an extra $100.  Therefore I'll start charging $530 mo. for my efficiencies.  Makes sense, right?

These days it's not unusual for even efficiency apartments to go for $500 to $600 per month
...with one-bedrooms and such going for a lot more
...but, given the economic situation at hand, how many people can really afford today's inflated-vaule rents?
There are, I'm sure, plenty of people who need someplace to live and, if affordable places still existed (like they did 20 and 30 years ago), would have no problem making their regular monthly rental payments.

One radical idea I've come up with (which I'm sure most property owners out there are highly unlikely to ever agree to or with, but I'll go ahead and state it anyway):  What if there was a property owner who decided to go ahead and buck-the-current-trend---who decided to gamble on fate and circumstance itself and rent out his/her residential units for, say, $150 less per month than what most other owners/landlords were?

The reasoning would be:  That a lower rent, although not netting as much an income per unit as a higher rent would, would still ensure higher potential occupancy.
If "Gus" ten blocks away is charging $580 mo. (not counting utilities and water-and-sewage) and he owns 12 units, but he can only fill up four or five at a time---and you own 12 units yourself, but are able to keep at least nine or ten of them filled during any said period of time, even though you're charging $375 mo. (not counting utilities and water-and-sewage)---you'd still be coming out slightly ahead of "Gus".
Consider:  When one owns property of any kind one has to pay taxes on it---and one is taxed a certain amount on their properties according to how said properties are categorized.  In short, if one owns three apartment buildings---each with four residential units---the property taxes owed per year (or per period) are based on the type of properties said buildings are, and not whether-or-not any of them happen to be fully (or even partially) occupied at any given point in time.
So what the property owner collects via monthly rents would have to be adequate enough to more-than-cover (and recover) whatever he/she has to pay out for said taxes (as well as for other property owner/maintenance-related expenses)
Hence, the more rent money the property owner receives from their tenants the better able they are to cover taxes and expenses.
In short---the better the method of achieving that goal, the better off the property owner will be.

So...four units at $580 mo each in a six-month period: $13,920.  Nine units at $375 mo. each in a six-month period:  $20,250.
...See where this is going?  At least hypothetically?

It's sort of along the same line as these wholesale retailers who either:  1)sell products in bulk at less-per-ounce or less-per-pound compared to the normal sized boxes or packages you would purchase at a regular store...or  2) reduce the price of a product which isn't selling too well to see, perhaps, if it does better at a lower price.
"Wholesaling" is what the practice is called.

It's also like the days when the U.S. was prosperous
...prosperity rarely had anything to do with "how much" money any one person was making.  There's always been a certain amount of disparity in wages and income between the social classes---this is the norm.
What makes a society prosperous is how well it's currency "flows"...that is how well and how often it "makes it's rounds" in terms of being transferred from one hand to the other's a commodity and it's only useful when being used for "trading" and "exchange" purposes.  If it stagnates the country's economy "freezes" and doesn't go anywhere anymore.
Decades ago there were more small businesses competing with the "major leaguers", plus there were more choices---not only in consumer products or in modes-of-transportation one used to travel with and the like---but also in what kind of dwelling places one could find to reside in.  If one didn't "qualify" for  residency in any apartments they could still find themselves a "flop house" or rent out a bedroom in a rooming house...there were ALWAYS alternatives.
And when one has a place-to-live they can hold down a job for a longer period of time
...and even if one's job didn't pay much, the chances of being able to hold down employment were much greater than they are now, hence it was still a steady income source even if the incremental amounts per week or per month were sparse was not inconceivable for someone to, for example, work at the same restaurant or store for ten years straight.
So it's never a question of how much you make at any one time---it's whether or not the money will keep on coming in.  It's all about functionality.  Making money opposed to the modern-day concept of simply "making money".

With all that in mind, I'm wondering, with so many folks out there needing a place to live, if---in the future---the truly wise property owners might not be the daring ones willing to take the risk of renting out to "risky" tenants
...the ones who make too low a wage at their jobs to be able to afford the average rent, or who have a bad credit history, or who face discrimination due to criminal convictions and the like.
Naturally this would call for strict rental contracts comprising certain resolutely persnickety stipulations regarding the tenants' responsibilities:  i.e.: payment-of-rent; care of property; personal conduct during duration of tenancy and the such.
...But, even given the current social climate (no doubt the GREATEST risk factor in a venture like this---with all the "lack-of-civility" syndrome fare and such), it still might actually work---hopefully in more than just "in theory".
Another factor to take into consideration:  support by the officials themselves.  How effective are THEY when their services are needed?  How responsive are the police if an exceptionally "sticky situation" should arise?  And if an adverse situation arises wherein legal actions are required to resolve it, how supportive are the courts and how competent are any lawyers or legal representitives you may need to hire to help you out?

Otherwise, like I said, this idea is theoretically feasible---at least in concept anyway.
...But probable?  That's another question altogether...
I seriously doubt these modern-day property owners will ever get around their fear-based skinflint mindsets or their "bottom-line" mentality.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More Myopic Musings

What's with so many people?
...Every time I walk around it never fails to happen
...someone will either exit from their car or from a business and just dart right out into the middle of the sidewalk without looking and almost run into me or cut me off---and will STILL be unaware of my presence or of anything else around them "nothing else exists"---it's "just them".  Everything else is "just a figment of their imagination"
...until they crash into something I guess
"God-damn, that fuckin' HURT!"
...Yes, that's a brick-and-stone wall, my friend...Yes, my friend, those light poles and sign posts are not exactly made of rubber...Wow! Like, who's responsible for putting BENCHES right by the curb where one's liable to just walk right into one of them while exiting from their car?...My God, someone should have warned you that sidewalks are known for having the occasional pedestrian or bicyclist moving around on them. Of course it's their fault if you get hurt---they need to develop their psychic abilities a little more so that they can tell when someone's about to dart out the door...

At what age do people start acting "middle age"?
To where they get to the point where they're always commenting on the "younger people"?
To where they're so "experienced in life" they have to qualms about assuming a kind of secondary authority over anyone more than 15 years younger than they are?

Of course when I was young myself (as a kid, as a teenager, and in my 20s) I entertained a lot of the common stereotypes of "older people", pretty much the same way people in that age range have always done and still do.

But now, at the age of 57, it feels weird to still be seeing people still going through the pantomimes of "age-appropriate" behaviors and gestures, and talking with all the "age-appropriate" terminology and rambling off all the cliche culturally jihadist rhetoric about the shortcomings and attitudes of "today's generation".

...when overhearing the loud conversations of a group of "old bitty" type middle-aged women, the realization that I, myself, am probably a good ten years or so OLDER than these bitchy "old bags" never fails to astound me.
Just think...a couple decades earlier some of these "older hags" were probably the classroom "femme fatales"---the girls in the class every boy "falls in love" with and develops an insatiable crush on...the "unattainable" pretty/beautiful "perfect face and body" ones who "would never go for a guy like you". 
Or, maybe, at least the kind of girls any of their nerdy male classmates would routinely jack-off over at home, fantasizing about all the perverted things they wish they could do to them if only there was some way they could get away with it.

So-o-o-o-o...all you adolescents and "twenty-somethings" out there, be advised:
Next time you see an older adult, remember:  This is your future and the future of your generational peers
...assuming you live long enough...

At the CHINA BUFFET restaurant:
"To the two ladies who've been literally 'shouting out' all their personal business for the whole world to hear...
this place is 'all-you-can-eat', not 'all-you-can-say'"

Digital Dementia

I remember, when I was in grade school (circa: 1964), a friend of the family's (Louie B.) got me a little transistor radio as a gift.
It was a Zenith Royal 40B---hand-held.
Unlike most ordinary transistor radios it had a better sound than the average transistor (well, good for a 3" speaker), plus it had a good built-in tuner as well...most transistor radios, in addition to sounding so distorted even The Beatles sounded garbled, could only pick up strong signals---so you were also limited to only being able to listen to local stations.  But this light blue-colored Zenith of mine could also pick up anything the larger table radio could---out-of-town/out-of-state stations, especially at night.  I was living in Toledo Ohio and could still continue listening to WABC ("77 WABC") out of NYC, WLS and WCFL out of Chicago, WWL out of New Orleans...and, even during the day I could listen to some of the weaker stations out of Detroit (WXYZ, WKNR) and the 50,000-watters out of Cleveland (WKYC) and Cincinnati (WLW) (AM radio really "ruled" back in the '60s).
I remember discovering that when I held the speaker up to my ear I "could hear the bass response" (which, of course, enhanced the songs even more)...and that anytime my parents "caught me" with the radio against my ears they'd go ballistic and lecture me on "the dangers of incurring hearing loss from repeated assaults of loud rock music on one's ears".
In retrospect, of course, this is quite laughable...for one thing, all the incidents of hearing loss were the results of amplified live performances, or rehearsals either for studio sessions or concerts.  One won't "go deaf" from holding up a 3" speaker up to their ears repeatedly.
Frankly I'm sure it was their prejudices speaking and nothing based on fact. I've yet to run across a small transistor radio capable of puttting out the 150db+ that's the staple of most live performances.

But, that said, I have to mention one good aspect of the days of transistorized units and solid-state stereos replacing the ever-cumbersome tube amplifiers
...and that is---how instantaneous they were.  How all one had to do was either press a button, flick a switch, or turn a knob---and the unit would turn right on and perform for you.
I think consumer products should be like that---eager to serve their users.

Apparently that "mind-set" doesn't linger among the consumer products of today.
Flash-forward, and what do you have today?
Dysfunctional digitalism, that's what.

For example, I'll use a search engine on my computer (for the record I always use Google) and type in a subject matter
---and when I spot a site that I think might be interesting I'll click on it...and NOTHING.  The stupid search engine freezes. I click it a coupe more times, and then the page "shakes" and the arrow starts it's "spinning circle" routine.
It's like I "woke the internal workings up" and, finally, the computer is, like: "Oh...were you talking to me?"
"No. Actually I was expecting the cable box or the DVD player to bring up my web sites for me. And if they couldn't, then maybe my alarm clocks might be able to help me out...OF COURSE I WAS TALKING TO YOU---DO YOU SEE ANY OTHER LAPTOP LAYING AROUND IN THIS APARTMENT? ...Dumbass!"
(..."maybe I should ask the refrigerator to mosey on in here and bring the site up since it's such a struggle for you to do so with your lame 'dysfunctional search engine' problem...obviously a 'congenital', a defect you were 'born' with")

And then there are also computer-controlled gadgets as well
...take the cable box.  You go to change the channel, right?  You want to watch channel you press "3" and "8" on the remote control and what happens?
...the dumb cable box switches to channel 3 first---then a few seconds later switches to channel 8.

I think digital technology is so overrated
...and I don't think it's all that efficient either...computers are always "freezing up" and "locking up"---especially when trying to view overcluttered web sites and web pages (too many photographs, ads, videos, animated pictures)
...and every time you shut the units off and later turn them back on to resume doing whatever you got interrupted from, they always have to "reprocess" everything---like they can't simply "remember where they left off"
...and this "delayed reaction" stuff
Digital devices often behave like that person who, when you try to explain something to them, just "doesn't get it"
---or they finally DO figure it out...long after the fact.
...and digital devices are always showing signs of cyber-Alzheimer's---either forgetting a web page you were just on a moment ago...or recollecting the most irrelevant elements---"Didn't I delete that? What the hell is THAT still doing on my files?"

Maybe this is part of the problem with, you know, the banks...the records
...their computer systems are the real culprits...

As Above, So Below

You look through a telescope at outer space and what do you see
...clusters of stars, each one with planets revolving around it.

You look through a microscope at a molecule and what do you see
...clusters of atoms, each one with electrons revolving around it.

And you think about our sun
...and the planets revolving arouind it---including our own earth.

Every person alive is
...either a son or a daughter
...either an only child or a brother or a sister
...either single or a wife or a husband
...either a parent, a grandparent, a great-grandparent...or childless
...either an infant, a toddler, a young child, an adolescent, a young adult, a middle-age adult, an older adult, or elderly

It's this way no matter where you live, or what kind of culture your country has, or what kind of government serves your country, or whatever the ethnic makeup of either you or of your country.

Anyone can point out the differences
...but what about the similarities?

What is "America" REALLY all about?

Folk-singer Joan Baez once stated to a small crowd attending a live performance of hers on the grounds of The University of California-Berkeley in July 1977:
"How many of you here have ever been to jail?
For those of you who haven't, I'll tell you---if you've never been to jail, then you don't really know what America's actually all about."

At the time I had yet to "get in trouble with the law", so I wasn't really quite sure what she was driving at.

But, in retrospect, I think I have a good idea what she probably meant by that last statement.

Now---for those of you who HAVE suffered the indignities and humiliation of being arrested and actually "locked up", think about what all it involves...I mean, besides "being talked-down-to like a stupid little kid" by arrogant paternal/maternal authority figures...

...being fingerprinted;
being character-assassinated both verbally and "on paper"---on a permanent record which can be viewed by just about anyone at any time in the future;
being locked in a "holding cell" with no facilities outside of a toilet---no shower or anything...unless they figure you're likely to be there for some time (especially if it's unlikely anyone'll come around to bond you out), in which case you get transfered to the "general population" where you get to "share" one toilet/sink combo and one shower with anywhere from 10 to 30 others.

...that is:
Those-in-charge assume "ownership" of and control over you...
You're given an "assigned" stereotype and pigeonhole---THEY give you an "identity" based on (in addition to whatever it is you got in trouble for) common social stereotypes which, themselves, are based largely on popular social prejudices and common preconceived notions regarding gender, race, physical type, and personality type...
You're forced against-your-will to navigate a series of "one-size-fits-all" elements---community facilities (toilet, shower, sink, sleeping quarters, recreation areas); a designated artificially-concocted social climate; regimented schedules and rituals; no allowance or accommodations for any individual needs, desires, or for individual expression...
Plus---whatever kind of problems exist with this environment you also have to suffer, regardless of whether-or-not you had anything to do with bringing them about...
And---you're "just-a-number", as well as "just-another-case/defendant/inmate".

But, come to think of it:
Wasn't basic training in the military also sort of like this?
...and is life as a "normal civilian" really all that different?
Don't we have to deal with a "one-size-fits-all" type of culture with it's social stereotypes, trendy material possessions, everyone having to use the same at the same at the same the same TV the same books, magazines, many people going to the same popular clubs, listening to the same popular music, and the such?
And aren't we assigned "numbers" to our names? Credit cards, drivers licenses, social security cards, etc.?
And don't we get prototyped in everyday life? What about work records? School records? Hospital records?
And we're NOT forced into regimented rituals? Work schedules? Doctor's appointments? Classroom schedules? ...just how much "free will" are we allowed to have?
And all the problems society suffers from---do they not also affect our lives, and in the most adverse ways as well?

I think I know NOW what Joan Baez was getting at (in essence anyway)
...but, then again, isn't pretty much EVERY society like "America" in their own way?

"Conformity"---also known as "#12 LOOKS LIKE YOU" (wasn't Rod Serling a passive-agressive soul?)
..."#12" thinks like you as well---if you think about it long enough...

The "Bicyclist Cult" Crowd

Who else among us are old enough to remember a time---say, 20...30...40-some-years-ago---when people simply "rode bicycles"
...either you owned a bicycle or you didn't
...and riding a bicycle was...simply "riding a bicycle"
...mostly kids, but you also had a few adults who also rode for recreation and exercise.  Particularly in the parks and such.
Then you had your "adventurous" types who either "rode the trails" in the national parks, engaged in "mountain biking" with their contraptions custom-made to tackle rugged terrain, or the "bicycle races".

Flash-forward to the 21st century, and now---
bicycling has become such a popular fad than just a "fad"'s practically a "religion" these days.

There are no more "normal" bike riders anymore nor simply "normal people" who ride bicycles once-in-a-while
...they are now "bicyclists"
...and they're a major MAJOR "cult"
---literally a CULT---with their own lingo, their own terminology and slang expressions, even their own brands and styles of clothing...not to mention quite cliquish to boot.
...and most of them also seem to circumvent the same laws and responsibilities

...check out this:
(Note: There were 2 entries for June you'll have to scroll down from the "Jerry Sandusky" story to get to the "bike" post)

(...Just for the record:  I never did learn how to ride a bicycle...and I don't drive either.
I'm a full-time pedestrian and part-time bus rider.
But I've got say...BOTH motorists and bicyclists can be quite adversarial to us pedestrians when misappropriating their "God-given" right to engage in their mode-of-transportation.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Paul

                                                This Monday, June 18:
                                                Paul McCartney turns 70
He was born James Paul McCartney on June 18 1942 in Allerton, Liverpool, England. 
The only other of the last two surviving members of the "fab four" to reach the age of 70.
One of the ultimate musical milestones of the rock-and-roll era---and in pop music history.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Was "9-11" When "9-11" Wasn't Cool

I remember, shortly after the events of September 11 2001 happened, reading the accounts of "how this tragedy has affected the lives of Americans"
...among the after-effects of "9-11":  that a lot of those interviewed mentioned having their "sense of faith and trust in" the system-of-things shattered.  That they "can no longer take everything for granted like they did before"...and that they're "now paranoid everywhere they go and no longer feel safe anywhere"...that they "now don't know what's going to happen next".
...sort of a collective "post-traumatic stress syndrome" so to speak.

My response to these and other similar type reactions (which I don't readily recall at this time) was, more than anything, to be a bit surprised and bitterly amused---mainly at the notion that anyone would ever be able to feel "confident in" anything or "feel safe" even out in public, or just plain-out be able to take anything "for granted" without thinking twice about anything.

I, myself, have NEVER been comfortable with life nor with the ways of the world.
...of course, you have to understand, this is arbitrary...
As I've mentioned many times before, I've always been a social outcast, an oddball.
Consequently, as you might figure, I've been subject to all manners of social discrimination---including exclusionism, bullying in school while growing up, being taken advantage of for the amusement of others, being either mocked, ignored, or treated by others in a condescending manner.
Also, there were plenty of occasions where I had to endure being falsely accused (or, if I was guilty, having to bear the full brunt of the maximum punishments).
And there was also being denied and deprived of certain entitlements most (even average) people are allowed, or just expect to have par-for-the-course.

All those years of being treated so contemptiously and enduring all the hostilities and silent prejudices, taking the blame for anything amiss or screwed-up, and just the overall "being laughed at or about" has made me very insecure, nontrusting, and completely self-conscious---always double-checking mysef constantly to make sure "I got it right".

So I've NEVER known what it's like to either be relaxed with myself or to be relaxed with life itself.
And I learned a long time ago NEVER to "take anything for granted"---and decades BEFORE this "9-11" incident.

Frankly, my main reaction to the after-effects of "9-11" on the average American was to be envious---of ANYONE who obviously could have such a cushy existence they could afford to just glide through their life all self-assured and with most things just "falling into place" for them, never "having to think twice about" anything.
I just could never believe it possible for any sensible and thinking person to be that "okay" with society and the world the way it is.

And as for terrorism:
Didn't the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City have any kind of psychological effect on the general U.S. populace?
And what about the gangs, the crack dealers, and all other sorts of home-grown domestic terrorists?
...What ever was there to be "comfortable" and "serene" about in terms of even our own social climate? ---even LONG before September 11 2001?

Are the overprivileged and ever-fraternal "socially-correct" really so smug and overconfident that they could have, for so long, felt that "invincible" and "shielded from" the general calamities that can befall anyone under the right conditions?
Is it because they're so used to always-having-plenty-of-"backup" from loving relatives and loyal friends they just take-for-granted things will always work out, because they've never been in any situation or circumstance where they had to rely solely on their own mettle to try to get out of any sticky or near-impossible dilemma?

I wonder what life is like for these type of individuals.
...or at least what life WAS like for such types before "9-11"...or, maybe, before the present-day social, economic and political situation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Duplicity In Advertising

 A commercial comes on  plugging a certain brand of disinfectant hand soap (or hand sanitizer) in which they state it "eliminates 99% of germs and bacteria"
...and during the commercial they mention emphatically the number of and type of "common surfaces" which are liable to have any number of viruses and germs "just lying around on them" awaiting physical contact by some unsuspecting poor sap who happens to have need to touch said item with their hands or fingers---upon which they transfer said germs to their sandwiches or their faces when they scratch an itch (or what-have-you).
...thus impressing upon the viewer the urgency of and necessity for obtaining and using this product on a regular and frequent basis.
What they don't mention, of course, is the fact that the amount of bacteria present on most objects is not enough to overwhelm the defense mechanisms of most people if their immune systems are reasonably healthy.
So...on the one hand what they're stating is true: the product kills 99% of most known viruses and bacteria.  And that most material surfaces have all kinds of germs, bacteria, and even viruses present on them.  But it's what they're not mentioning that makes the commercial so deceptive and gimmicky.

Same with a commercial for a breakfast cereal.
They mention on the commercial that their product "meets or exceeds the FDA requirements for" most (or certain) essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals "needed to maintain a balanced diet".
Of course they don't emphasize the fact that their product also contains an excess amount of sugar---or starch...nor do they ever mention all the preservatives they use to keep this product fresh or the emulsifiers they add to keep this hodge-podge of grains and sugars from "turning to mush" or "food dust" during shipping and storage.
Nor do they mention the fact that the man-made vitamins and nutrients they add to this product still can't compare to any of the natural nutrition one gets from eating fruits, vegetables, and cooked meats.

Two generic examples of the common types of duplicity-in-advertising.
It's not about lying or saying anything's about the convenient elimination of "all the other facts" on the subject at hand that creates an inaccurate impression on the viewer (or reader).