Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Crazy Thrity Percent

Bill Maher has said, "Mr. President, there are some people who are never going to like you. That's why they voted for the old guy and Carrie's mom. You're not going to win them over. Stand up for the 70% of Americans who aren't crazy."

I said months ago that I wasn't going to pay attention after the election because I knew this would get bad, but I had no idea... Birthers, TEA Parties, Town-Hall crazies, comparison's of our President to Hitler, and screaming congressman taking advantage of the crazies to raise $1,000,000 for his campaign war chest. Add to this the carry over craziness from the election - he's a Muslim extremist, socialist, etc. And Maher is right, you're not going to win them over, their nuts...

Some of it is racism, but in the new book by Max Blumenthal, I think he explains the rest as he talked about in an interesting interview on Fresh Air last week.

In his book he quotes Eisenhower as saying, "And he (Eisenhower) pointed out that fears of national security during the Cold War were distorted and exploited for political advantage. "It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness except as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.""

Blumenthal also alludes to 'The True Believer' a book that Eisenhower was fond of, in it the author Eric Hoffer offers remarkable insight into these recent movements... "A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises," he wrote, "but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence." The true believer was at his core an ineffectual man with no capacity for self-fulfillment. Only the drama provided by a mass movement gave him purpose. "Faith in a holy cause," Hoffer wrote, "is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

You either get it or or don't get it... but I don't get who get's it

In a very low point in my life a number of years ago I did something almost unthinkable at this moment... I was walking through the mall and one of the bookstore's had an audio book sale and for some unknown reason I paid money for Dr. Phil on tape. It was on cassette... really this was a number of years ago. Dr. Phil says you either get it or you don't get it. I know people who I think, he thinks, gets it. They seem to flow through life without a care, they were popular in high school, got a decent job out of college, close group of friends, and an attractive family. They do things like go skiing or play golf and linger around the club and have a few cocktails with friends afterwords... chatting about the kids school, the neighbor's affair, or maybe play a little gin for a few dollars... then they head home and hop in the sack and satisfy each other's needs.

Boy that sounds nifty... I haven't had a friend in 15 years... that's a little stretch there are a few that tolerate me, but in general notsomuch... I think it's because I'm lousy at small talk, I don't give one rats ass about the weather, the neighbor's affair and the thought of getting competitive for a few dollars in a card game makes me itch all over...

To summarize Becker, he says we are all so petrified of dying that we're all scared to death to ask the big questions in life. We "tranquilize ourselves with the trivial" so we don't have to think about the fact that at any given moment we're just a few tearful mourners away from being worm food. I think Becker is probably right, personally I wish I could have a litte more of Kurt Vonnegut's attitude about it. In Slaughterhouse-Five, every time someone would die Vonnegut would say, "So it goes..." and I read an interview where he said that's exactly how he felt when his sister, brother, mother and father all died... "That was that...I had nobody to appeal to, to get mad at. When somebody dies, it's wholly unsurprising and so it goes. What could be more ordinary?"

Seems like everyday there's a new story about genetics... this one suggest that biology is very important in our ability to make friends and have tight social networks... When I've done Myer's Briggs it says I'm an INTP... which leads me to another rambling point... Someone famously said 'you can't go home again'... well sure you can... lots of people do... BUT not everyone can. If you were to describe the characteristics of an INTP to the people I grew up with, 99% would say without a doubt that those traits did not in anyway describe me. I would suggest that this makes it very hard to go home again... Who can go home again? The people who were pretty happy when they left (if they did) and who haven't changed much... They didn't have to be sports stars, but they played, they didn't offend anybody, didn't ask tough questions of themselves or others... they can go home again. Perhaps this is why community change most often doesn't happen from the inside... the people who live there are relatively happy there, relatively successful, and don't really want the boat rocked (even if they say they do).

Maybe this is a rant against the life not examined or it may be the jealous ramblings of the outsider... Maybe I need to pull out the cassette of Dr. Phil again and just admit that I don't get it... There's a good scene in the mediocre movie Girl Interrupted, where Ms. Ryder is in the asylum talking to Whoopi and Ms. Ryder tells Whoopi that Angelina says the rest of the world is full of crap and the girls in the asylum aren't... Whoopi replies that Angelina's probably right... but she's been in the asylum most of her life while everybody else is out enjoying their life even if it is full of crap... to continue with the pop culture post that this has turned into... Neo has the choice of the red pill or the blue pill in the Matrix... perhaps we all have that choice, and perhaps one leads to the asylum and one leads to cocktails and laughs?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

But, it goes deeper than that...

The schools created an obedient class that would sit quietly and do a repetitive task over and over again with some degree of proficiency... but, it starts much earlier and is much more pervasive.

Little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice, little boys are made of puppy dog tails... Every girl dreams of the "White Wedding" (Chrys Ingraham, as this review notes talks about the ""wedding-industrial complex," which relentlessly markets nuptials (especially white weddings) and relies on the pervasive media images of marriage ceremonies to keep itself "recession-proof."")which is part marketing and part social control...

Ultimately, there has developed a set of cultural rules and the question is who made the rules and for whose benefit did they make them?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Moving on...

The election's over... Holiday's are over... time to move on...

I'm glad Obama won and I hope he does great things... but, I can't watch it. The news and the pundits are going to 'tranquilize us with the trivial' and it will simply wear me completely out to wade through that swamp, so I'm going to make every effort to avoid it all... call it my New Year's Resolution.

So, I've been thinking about something that will probably take me 30 or 40 years to come up with a coherent thought on... but, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step...

To begin the journey, two quotes from John Taylor Gatto in his book A Different Kind of Teacher...

J. D. Rockefeller’s General Education Board (1915): “In our dreams people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. … The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”

and

“Schools were designed by Horace Mann, E.I. Thorndike, and others to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled. To a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this."

I'm wondering how much of the institutions we cherish, our traditions, our values, in fact, all the things we call 'our life' is based on the success of the Rockefeller Board and Horace Mann, et. al. accomplishing what they set out to do?