TGIF

It’s been a week, hasn’t it? Peggy Lipton, Doris Day, and Tim Conway all passed away this week.

Losing stars isn’t anything new. Although I didn’t know them, they were part of the magic that we thought we had going for us after World War II. They helped us cope as the shit started happening. McCarthyism and the red scare. Korea. JFK’s assassination. Demonstrations and riots. Gulf of Tonkin incident. RFK and MLK’s assassinations. Vietnam. University of Texas shootings. USS Pueblo. Kent State. Watergate. Recessions and energy crises. Iran-Contra scandals. Iran hostages. John Lennon’s murder. Attempted assassination on Ronald Reagan. KAL 007 shot down. Beirut Barracks bombing. Challenger disaster. Operation Just Cause. Desert Storm. Oklahoma City bombing. Monica Lewinsky. Move On. Columbine. Hanging chads. Enron. 9/11. Hurricane Katrina. Virginia Tech University shootings. Housing bubble burst. Global banking meltdown. Umpqua Community College shootings. Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Global warming. Isla Vista, 2014 shootings. Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Wildfires. Sutherland Springs Church shootings. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings. Sante Fe High School shooting. Las Vegas shooting. Thousand Oaks shooting. Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. Measles outbreak. College cheating scandal.

And that’s all just a small bit of America’s piece of it. To think of what’s happened in the rest of the world during those years is numbing.

Now, Conway, Lipton, and Day gone. What a week.

Thank God it’s Friday.

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Tuesday’s Theme Music

After reading some news last night and this morning, my anger spilled over. “You must be evil,” I said in my head to several of the articles’ principals, evil for how their minds work, evil for their indifference about what their actions do to the world or other creatures, evil for their willingness to rationalize murdering and victimizing.

From that came, quite deliberately, Chris Rea’s 1989 song, “You Must Be Evil”.

 

Self-evident

It’s humbling to think about how little I know, and disturbing to ponder how much I’ve learned and forgotten, or how often I learned, retained, and applied wrong information.

The information was sometimes wrong because we thought that’s how things worked back when we learned it. Then, later, you discovered, “Oh, shit, that works for everyone else, but it doesn’t work for me.”

Yes, this is another Big Lie rant. The Big Lie is that we’re all the same. Eat these foods, gain these nutrients, do these exercises, and you should be good to go.

Yeah, they then admit — you know they, the great aggregate of society, social media, medical professions, governments, you know, they — well, they admit, there are some exceptions. Like, you may be diabetic because your body rejects the insulin it makes. So you’re like, whaat?

Maybe you’re allergic to things. Or you may have problems because your body doesn’t process certain vitamins and minerals well, rejecting them. Maybe you hear things different. Perhaps you hear shapes, or you taste something because you hear a sound.

Whacked, right?

I grew up learning that people that talked to themselves were most likely not right in the head in some way. Now we’ve learned, no, they’re probably fine. Their personality is different from your personality. Conversely, telling me to come out of my shell and socialize more works on the assumption that I’ve made a choice to stay in my shell and not socialize, and not because of the components at work inside me.

Not all people we called slow were slow thinkers, but they didn’t benefit from the learning environment. Too bad for them, back then, because we didn’t know.

We keep learning that there’s a lot that we don’t know, and that what we thought we knew and pushed as truth was wrong. This was sometimes done deliberately to further someone’s wealth — remember how they told us for years that smoking cigarettes aren’t bad? — or to achieve a political advantage.

That takes me to food shopping. Oh, lawdy. I’ve decided to cut down on processed foods and reduce my sugar intake, so I’m reading labels more intently than before. A correlation often exists; if a food is low-fat or non-fat, it’ll be loaded with sugar. If it’s sugar-free, it has a lot of fat.

They say — now — that supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals probably doesn’t do anything for you, if you’re healthy. You really can’t tell that from the advertising and commercials that abound, can you?

If you’re not healthy, too much of one mineral or vitamin can cause greater problems. All this comes with that caveat, for some people. You need to learn early that you may be some people. You learn by observing your body and reactions to different inputs, studying those differences, and consulting experts when necessary.

And these deficiencies can have profound effects. Constipated, tired, and depressed? You might have a potassium deficiency. Or something else. Just saying.

Consulting experts — or the Internet — doesn’t always work out. Some experts dismiss study results. Reasons vary for why they dismiss the results, or skew them. It could be from ignorance, religion, or false information that they acquired. It could be because they’re being paid to dismiss the evidence, or they’re pathological liars, or protecting someone or something else. This spectrum about why is as broad as humanity.

Even when you find your flaws and shortcomings and address your patterns to cope, it ain’t over. Your body and brain, and our society, are dynamic. Our body is changing, sometimes from aging, sometimes from abuse. Sometimes, it’s just a slow shift because of habits.

As a society, we’re always learning new information, or revealing old frauds, or finding something new about the human body. Our food security gets exposed in unimaginable ways. Consider from this week:

Cocaine in shrimp

Cocaine in salmon

Blood absorbs sunscreens

In each case, these findings surprised scientists and investigators because it wasn’t expected. The sunscreen lotions were most interesting to me. They’ve been around back to a time before governments, industries, or individuals worried about the active ingredients in sunscreens, so they were never tested. That was partly propagated by the good ol’ common sense approach that sunscreen is rubbed on your skin; how the heck would it get into your blood? (That’s typically followed by mocking chortles because doesn’t that seem so self-evident?)

Yeah, there’s a lot that isn’t self-evident, isn’t there?

Saturday’s Theme Music

I was reading about the militias heading south to the border to meet the caravan. Some had already arrived in a few towns, where the people were confused about why the militia were. People interviewed in those towns felt that the caravan issue and illegal immigrant issues were being overblown. Of course that may be a result of what I read, and not the truth.

All of that paramilitary talk reminded me of how volatile the UK was for so long, which triggered memories of an old Sex Pistols’ song, “Anarchy in the U.K.” (1976). The song contains chunks of initials. When I first heard it, the meanings behind the initials were a mystery. The press took it up and gave us explanations that it was about the paramilitary groups, primarily Irish, that were for and against the British.

It all provides some hope that if the UK can survive, maybe America can as well. Well, honestly America will survive. It’s a question of what form it’ll have in the future, whether it’ll be fifty states or several republics, a dictatorship or some other form of government. Inherent in that question are the greater questions of equality, freedom, and the environment.

Let’s rock.

 

Beyond Politics

Beyond politics (like Russia meddling, Brexit, immigration, Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, refugees, and votes of confidence), I’m trying to follow other stories. They’re mostly natural disasters.

I follow the fires out west, naturally. These directly affect me via the smoke polluting the air. I’ve notice a normalization trend emerging. Although the AQI is unhealthy today, people think, “It’s better than yesterday.” They also go without masks because they didn’t feel anything from their exposure yesterday, last week, and last month. Many don’t seem to understand the long-term impact of breathing air loaded with particulates.

I’m following the Puerto Rico recovery because they’re humans, American citizens, and they’re suffering. I’m following volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in several areas, and flooding in the U.S. and India. Our technology allows us to visit disaster scenes. I’m not certain that this is healthy.

I’m following the job situation and housing market in the U.S. Many don’t recall that the way that unemployment is tracked was changed under Dubya in the early years of this century. The change created a rosier view of the economic. Unemployment is declining, they claim, but then note that real wages are slipping for most Americans, and most Americans can no longer afford a home.

I’m following generational differences. The latest generation hasn’t been given a name yet (perhaps that’s their name, temporarily – the Nameless Generation, a reflection of how unknown they are beyond the basics), and we’re still discovering Gen Z’s trends and tendencies. It’s fascinating to see how they compare with the previous generations in their buying habits and preferences. I encounter Gen Z regularly because they’re usually the ones working in coffee shops and restaurants. They seem just like you and I, but this is also a college town, and most of them are white and come from middle-class to upper-middle-class families. I don’t think they’re necessarily representative of the rest, but I don’t know where to draw the line.

I’m following space developments (no, not the space force, thanks), and the discovery of water and exo-planets, etc. Naturally, I’m also following some cultural develops. Some cultural news seeps into my awareness without trying. It’s hard to avoid it, here in America. I’ve also been reading a lot of interviews with authors, and essays about writing. (I’ve also been contemplating other novels to write. I can’t help myself.)

What about you? What are you following?

Sizzle

Have you noticed that the world is sizzling more?

No, this isn’t a climate change post about the world’s increasing average temperatures, melting and disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and more frequent and violent storms. We can’t do anything about that, so let’s not talk about it.

I’m talking about marketing sizzle. We can’t do anything about it, either, but many people are already talking about climate change. Not many are talking about the marketing sizzle.

The sizzle comes from that expression, “You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.” Most companies are selling sizzle. We called it vaporware in the software business. It’s the stuff they tell you is so frigging miraculous that you won’t believe you ever did without it, the stuff that rarely lives up to the promise.

Television shows are big on selling the sizzle. “It’s the most mind-blowing episode ever! You won’t want to miss it!” They’re not usually the most mind-blowing episodes ever to me. I can usually get up during the show, go make a sandwich, feed the cats, and answer the phone, come back and find that I’ve missed nothing of substance, only a little sizzle.

Television is a sizzle pioneer, but all the companies are catching on that they’ve got to sell the sizzle. “Look how fast our car is,” many commercials claim, showing people grinning from ear-to-ear as they race through a city like Jason Bourne escaping his government buddies. “Look how much fun it is to drive! Look how free this people feel.” Weird how there’s no other cars in that city.

Beer and soda commercials aren’t slouches when it comes to selling sizzle. They now love to show healthy, athletic people surfing, singing, playing guitars, mountain climbing, or hiking. Then they stop to have a good old cold soda or brew. None of these people have problems. None are diabetic or overweight. The commercial’s slug rarely address the people, though. They speak of the beverage. “The world’s most refreshing beer.”

They state it without evidence. That’s the way it goes. Sizzle doesn’t need evidence. Just fire it up and let the hungry masses know about it, and they will come and buy, like, “The fastest broadband service ever seen.”

The government is proud about how these companies sell sizzle. They don’t want to do anything to reign in the sizzle. These companies are doing the world a public service. If it wasn’t for the sizzle, we’d be worried about things that don’t sizzle, like the wealth imbalance, corrupt politicians, investigating Russians, rebooting our routers against hackers, rising white supremacy movement, white and male privilege, the contamination of our food supplies, the growing plastic islands in our seas, increasing war and tensions in the middle East, our dwindling fresh water supplies, rising cancer rates, the Italian government and EU economy, or police officers attacking people over parking situations, escalating events in fear of phones.

It’s much better to think about the sizzle.

Not Helpful

Don’t you love it when peruse a webpage for information, and then see a link for “More Information,” and click on it, only to find the link opens a page with the same information, but in a different format, and nothing “more”?

Yeah. Grrr, not helpful.

The Fake News Poll

Have you seen the poll results about fake news in America? Forty-six percent of Americans believe the news media make up news stories about the Trump administration.

Who is surprised?

I believe the news media make up stories, but not about Trump. I believe that other stories have been made up and posted as real news. That set up the meme that the news media can’t be trusted, a position that President Con Don pushes.

Let’s count some of those fake stories. Remember those birther stories about President Obama? They were demonstrably fake stories that right wing media sites continued circulating for years.

Just today, several right wing news sites made up and spread a story about an immigrant starting the California wildfires that swept through NorCal.

How often was Hillary Clinton mocked as “Killary” because of all the people she and Bill were said to have killed? Fifty people, according to some sites, although none of those deaths have been proven in court.

What about Pizzagate?

Remember Jade Helm 15, and the Federal government’s plot to invade Texas and other states?

Many media sites ran with Con Don’s insistence that he won the popular election, enough that people believe him, even though he later asserts that he didn’t win the popular election because of rampant illegal voting in California, and that his inauguration crowd was larger than President Obama’s crowd?

Without effort, I can go back and remember more. What of Judith Miller and the Iraqi WMD, and Nigeria yellow cake? How about the FEMA death camps? Shall we talk about climate change denial? Con Don even lied about his statements on Charlottesville, and though they were broadcast that day, and shown repeatedly, people believe that news was fabricated. Hell, they’re giving him credit for the jobless rates declining, and the improved economy, without being able to cite anything he’s done for either one, and without acknowledging that those are continued trends that started years ago, under President Obama.

None of this news. Spinning news to dirty a candidate isn’t new, either. Nor does it belong to America. Much of the derogatory opinions about Jews, Muslims, and just about anyone who isn’t a white male, can be traced back to unproven or twisted whispering and news campaigns.

No, I’m not surprised that people think news is being made up about Trump. He makes up a lot of it himself, then feeds it to the media, and some of them blindly run with it.

It’s part of a great heritage.

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