Media’s Cock Roach

Living in Trump’s dystopian nation (if you haven’t ingested the Kool-Aid), sometimes you can forget that this American life sometimes delivers treats, too.

Last week, it was #InternationalClashDay. This afternoon, while listening to Maine Calling, hosted by Maine media vet, Jennifer Rooks, I found out it’s #WorldRadioDay. Hot damn! I love radio, so why not celebrate the hell out of the day? The verdict of Rooks and her guests was that radio’s still going strong and will continue to survive.

I grew up when you could still hear rock and roll on the AM dial. Now it’s the domain of conservative talk dirges and hosts positing an alternative version of America vastly different than the one I grew up in. Wanna’ make America great again? Flush Rush from the airwaves and play some music!

Happy families listen to the radio.

When I’m home and working, I stream music via several dial-based stations that I can’t pick up in Maine. This is one of the wonders of the internet and technology in my opinion. Here are my top four.

  • KEXP (Seattle, Washington)
  • WMFU (East Orange, New Jersey)
  • WMBR (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  • WMPG (Portland, ME)

I can pull in WMPG’s signal on my stereo receiver and of course, in my car. I am a fan of their weekday afternoon “rock blocks,” especially Wednesday’s Radio Junk Drawer, with David Pence. More and more, I’m apt to be streaming KEXP most afternoons that aren’t Wednesday. Continue reading

Ex Post Facto

We are told that we live in a “post-fact” world. If you grew up in a print-based culture like I did (and you actually still use books to round out your understanding of the world), then this is alarming.

After months of brutal electioneering, a candidate has been chosen. He might be the perfect choice for a world where fact and science has been swapped for tweets and relying on his “gut” or something other than his brain for decision-making.

If it was merely our reality TV president relying on something other than fact-checking and data, then jokes and innuendo might be the end of it. However, it’s each and every single one of us “googling” on our smartphones that is driving dismissal of fact. Facebook then amplifies it ten-fold.

Like most nearly every aspect of life in America these days—the problem of ____________ (fill-in the blank) is someone else’s fault. Actually, most of the issues staring us directly in the face could be rectified with a little backbone and character. Like so-called fake news. If we didn’t consume so much of this fucking dreck, then there wouldn’t be a market for assholes like this guy, making shit up in his basement, and laughing all the way to the bank. Isn’t capitalism grand?

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

Fake news-free, at Curtis Memorial Library

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Summer Reading Program

May wasn’t a red letter month for me and reading. While I read a couple of books, nothing I ran across seemed to captivate me. The topics were lackluster and perfunctory. I’m sure umpiring 23 games in 30 days had something to do with this malaise.

June hints at hope that I’ve found some new reading choices that will once again reignite my passion for the written word. Great books always do that for me. Better, deep thinkers and prolific authors proffer up a plethora of new options.

I’ve mentioned Neil Postman countless times before. His books critiquing television as well as the power of a medium to affect its message have framed my thinking on the topic. Postman also introduced me to Jacques Ellul, the French polymath.

While searching for someone or one book to kick start my reading heading into the summer months, I learned that no one’s ever written a biography on this intellectual giant of the 20th century. The closest I could come was a book offering up a comprehensive overview of his life and writing (he wrote more than 50 books and over 1,000 articles). This work, written by three Wheaton College (the Illinois-based school) professors, is called Understanding Jacques Ellul. Continue reading

Privilege and Privacy

It’s interesting how the elite have their own unique set of rules for their small circle of friends, and another policy manual for the rest of us schmucks. Take Marky Mark Zuckerberg.

Apparently when you’re richer than God, you can buy up all the surrounding real estate nearby. That way, you won’t have to worry about the hoi polloi peering into your backyard. In the case of Mr. Facebook, he’s planning to bulldoze the homes he purchased back in 2013. The million-dollar homes he scooped up will be replaced with smaller, lower-profile places—the kind that won’t “intrude” on his privacy—an important consideration for Zuckerbuck.

Beware of Zuckerberg's bulldozer.

Beware of Zuckerberg’s bulldozer.

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Fewer Words

Blogging regularly requires finding a subject and crafting a post about it worth reading. The subject can be something significant and newsworthy—or it can also be mundane and personal. As my sister commented the other day, “there is almost no topic that can’t be worked into an interesting post.” That’s what it takes to keep creating content, consistently.

When I got serious about my writing, I realized that writing regularly was part of the process required to develop my craft. Actually, Stephen King shared that secret with me. Since then, my blogging track record dating back to 2003 (although some of that blogging is no longer with us, at least not on the interwebs) demonstrates that commitment.

While I’ve continued to build narratives of 500, 1,000, and upwards of those word counts, the world seems to be moving in a minimalist direction regarding communication. How many words does it take to tell a story? I’m not sure. Probably 400 or 500 would be on the lower end. I’m a firm believer that it takes more than Twitter’s 140 characters to communicate effectively. And I’m no fan of communicating by emoji via Facebook. That probably identifies me as old-fashioned.

No one writes letters these days. People can’t even be bothered to email.

Then there are days like today when life gets in the way and there’s not enough time to tackle something larger. I’ve been ruminating about things I observed during recent work-related travels through western Maine that I can’t do justice to today, so I’ll hold off ‘til a later date.

Acting Human

Humans require interaction. Some have posited that our need to connect is as necessary as food and water. It’s how we’re wired. Isn’t it odd how so much of our socialization now occurs in the digital realm, rather than face-to-face?

Technology always gets offered up as a worthy surrogate. Facebook has become the default portal where all of our so-called humanness gets played out—touch, taste, success, beliefs, even end-of-life drama. This has become our new “normal.”

Maybe social media and our lack of time spent in the presence of other humans signifies some higher order evolution. I’m guessing that it doesn’t, since studies indicate there are more lonely Americans than ever before.

Staring at a screen isn't human interaction.

Staring at a screen isn’t human interaction.

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Face Time is Happy Time

Not sure when it happened, but we’ve all been sold a bill of goods. The people in charge (aka, TPTB) know that united we stand, and divided, we fall. Well, maybe not divided so much, as simply no longer personally connected. Social media doesn’t count. Want to know why?

First, let me state that there is this idea moving towards meme status that the hivemind has accepted that says that “Facebook is great for connecting.” Here’s my thoughts on that—“poppycock!” And I’ve actually got some research to back me up. And what is that research, pray tell?

Well, studies have been done with subjects, aged 50 and up. Apparently, face-to-face interaction (as opposed to Facebooking) is more apt to ward off depression. Very interesting, indeed.

Face-to-face trumps Facebook.

Face-to-face trumps Facebook.

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A Barrel of Monkeys

The political world is framed by surveys and polling data. You’ll hear that Candidate X is up in the polls by X percent. Or Candidate Y’s lead is “within the margin of error.” These are terms that anyone following political news, even in the most superficial manner, is familiar with.  Sometimes I think quantification is the American religion.

After last Thursday’s Fox News/Facebook debate, the one where Megan Kelly ended up “stealing the show,” and upstaging The Donald, a survey came out that made me sit up and take notice. Not because of the data, no, but given the source.

Don't end up in her cross hairs.

Don’t end up in her cross hairs.

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Parenting Skills

Whatever happened to that tried and true, time-tested axiom about children—that they were to be “seen and not heard”? Apparently, it went out the window with many other common sense conventions from yesteryear.

On Saturday, a local restaurant owner basically told two stupid parents unable to control their toddler that it wasn’t acceptable for their kid to scream and carry on for 40 minutes in her restaurant. And of course, social media—whose biggest claim to fame is that it gives a platform to dolts with opinions not warranting the light of day—has been flooded in typical lynch mob-style, with tirades from “internet moms” against her via Facebook.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Screaming kids ruin restaurant dining.

Note to parents (yes, you doltish “internet moms”) of young children; your kids aren’t the center of my universe, especially if I’m eating in a restaurant and your kid’s acting like a brat. Address the boorish behavior like an adult, or take the kid out of the restaurant. Don’t leave it up to the owner of a busy diner to deal with your lack of parenting skills. Continue reading

I Don’t Want to Hear It

We all have opinions. Most of us have strongly-held ones. The desire to share my opinions, as well as some of what I thought was foundational information behind those opinions, were reasons why I started blogging back in 2003.

I still have opinions. Many of them have evolved over time. Having an opinion and sharing it is also seems fraught with danger, 12 years later. Now, I’m less likely to add my two cents worth to whatever battle is being waged over symbols, or people’s preferences.

Being hesitant to weigh-in on the Battle Royale raging at the moment also leaves a limited amount of topics to write about at times, or so it seems. Also, that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for. Spending time wasting words via a blog seems so 2006. No one seems interested anymore in reading several hundred words. 140-character tweets are now de riguer with the cool kids holding court, ruling the turf formerly held by bloggers. Who cares if they have nothing behind their prattle except their strongly held opinions?

"La, La, La, La..."

“La, La, La, La…”

My previous post touched down on binary thinking. I’ve mentioned the topic enough before. I won’t go there again today. I will only say that our inability to have a dialogue on a variety of tough subjects, even those deemed by our arbiters as “controversial,” doesn’t bode well for us. Screaming louder than your foes, or using your newly-found majority status doesn’t indicate rightness, either.

Perhaps I’ll just blog about the weather and puppies—no one is opposed to sun and cuteness, right?