Posts Tagged ‘TV’

The next morning.

Posted: February 10, 2013 in My Whirled, Stories
Tags: , , , ,

The Thinking Viking is going to share a bit.  This is an almost-true story. Only two bits omitted or changed.  It will be short.

I’m not generally the type to pick up strange women at parties and get almost freaky crazy in the back bedroom of some strange house then and take ’em home.  But it has happened.  Years ago….We were both kind of  drunk at a friends party, and then later …shared a cab home. She lived within walking distance of my place, and well, one thing lead to another and we had some more drinks and..

Fell asleep watching TV in my bed, cuddling.  Far as I recall nothing more happened. Yeah, I know.

I woke up alone, and didn’t mind a bit.  It was a Sunday morning much like today.

Just thinking. Have a nice Sunday.

MJ


The Thinking Viking has been …thinking.  I know, I know, there’s always trouble when this happens, but I just can’t stop myself. I was going to weave this into my other post “Kill Your Television” – but decided that my anger at television was distinct from my thoughts on manipulation via sex, lies, and video clips.  I chose the title deliberately (It pins my age if you remember the movie I refer to) – pretty much everyone now understands that  using sex to distract while you lie is effective, and that manipulating video can make almost anything appear to be true – tie this with some sexy propaganda, perhaps a viral meme, and bingo – new “truth”. I think most also know that these are just a few of the tools used to influence people.   These are the things you still get when you kill your TV.  The top youtube videos, email from internet groups,shared facebook postings, movies from Netflix,  all the websites with free content, don’t be fooled into thinking these sources are not also affecting and manipulating you.

….and damn are there a lot of websites and chatrooms, facebook groups, twitter tweeters.. (yeah, I have a twitter and facebook account. ) and …um… blogs….oh gods, what can I say. You gotta be careful – just as the Big Media is controlled by a handful of companies, the reverse is true on-line.  There is no real oversight, no censors, no one authority dictating content. just the web itself evolving. Which is fucking awesome, and also terrifying.  Many people will trust these “authorities” precisely because they are not “Mass Media” – they feel as though they have found some secret truth that others are too ignorant to understand.  You have all seen it.  It’s behind 90% of all conspiracy theory websites. Yes, that means that I think some of these crackpots might be on to something.  But I digress.

The line is increasingly blurred, with TVs at gas pumps not actually showing television, but rather a corporate “station” designed to look like broadcast TV.  Countless websites invite you to “create an account”” and they notify you when they have new content.. and these notification pop up as text messages on your goddamn phone, instantly. Impressive, but…wow  So in effect, you are choosing what to allow yourself to be brainwashed by.

By odd coincidence, I just received a text message about an event in Oakland that needs…shall we say “volunteers” (free tickets are involved), and it wound its way to my phone from via a free email service…one of perhaps five email addresses I technically have.  Hmm.  Somehow this maze of chosen connections I use  tastes better than Mass Media, but it comes with some dangerous side effects for some.  Such as championing a cause that doesn’t exist, this gave us the fraud that was Kony 2012, or convicting someone of a crime via viral memes online, without legal due process (which is where my only sympathy for George Zimmerman lies). Or convincing yourself that the entire aviation fuel industry in spreading psychological chemicals across the nation.  Or that the world is ending in 2012.

So we have entered a new world of information, for better or worse. I think it’s working.  But it is sometimes as sketchy as a skateboarder on crack sliding down a 100 foot railing into a pit of bear traps..

Think about it.

MJ


The thinking Viking has studied US History.  Mind you, I’m not a “historian”, but I did willingly take 10 credits of US  history as electives, and I found it fascinating.  And I read. Sometimes, quite a lot.  I’m also blood-related to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

So today, I’m going to have a little chat about how our country came to be, why, and what happened after it almost was almost torn apart – just little bits, anyone who follows me knows that I don’t go off for pages and pages when I get down to brass …tax. (reminds me of an old bug Bunny cartoon…) Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Lets get started. We revolted against Great Britain because of the stranglehold they had on our economy and legal status. Bizzare laws made Americans have to ship materials to Britain to be made into goods, then buy these same goods at very high prices from British companies, and of course the profits etc didn’t…trickle down to them. Hmm. Taxes – without being able to participate in deciding the laws, riles many, and this gave rise to the famed Boston Tea Party. Not to be confused as the Tea Party is today.  See what I did there?  Secret meetings, revolutionary publications, a couple riots (google  the “Boston Massacre”), foreign solidarity, a little bit of treason, some guns, more guns..bigger guns…….some..well, OK a LOT of bullets, bunch of dead people, and we win our independence. (Thanks France! I mean that. We would still be a colony if you folks hadn’t helped. Don’t forget that, Americans. The French are NOT pansies. Ask anyone who Napoleon defeated.)

So we begin the war by declaring that everyone has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness, and that yada yada some times it is needed to get violent and fix a broken government. And it worked, well, well enough to form the United States.  So far, so good.

Then, very quickly, they realized they had forgotten to include some details, details about human rights that were crucial to their anger towards the Crown.

Such as the right to free speech and the redress of grievances, and the right to peacefully assemble.  These three were violently suppressed by the British.  People died trying to get their concerns addressed in the times prior and during the war (see “Boston Massacre” that I mentioned above) , groups larger than 3 were forbidden, printed word was censored, all while their complaints about the situation fell on deaf ears. People suppressing protesters today are forgetting this. It is part of our very fabric as a nation for those who are upset with the status quo to state so, and to  seek a redress of grievances  – loudly and publicly, and repeatedly, day after day after day if they wish. So long as they are peaceful, as the amendment stipulates, it is very un-American to stifle and suppress words from others/protesters that you do not agree with, so long as certain lines are not crossed.  Some lines have been crossed, and people are getting hurt. Line one? Lets just say “pepper spraying cop meme” and “Scott Olsen” – peaceful protests that were made violent by those very people hired to protect the people.  (I’ve met Mr. Olsen a couple times now, nice guy) The other line – non-peaceful assemblies.  If you gather in a group of a couple + hundred, with the main slogan being “Fuck the Police!” (aka an “FTP March”) – then of course they are going to take it wrong.  Smashing windows and spray painting slogans on businesses or cars may make you feel powerful, but that crosses the line. Those are crimes, pretty much anywhere. Wrong message, wrong tactic.

On the other hand, the Founding Fathers had no way to anticipate the Internet,  TV, radio, <much later DOH! “cell phones smarter than the space shuttle”> where one persons speech can be heard and read by millions and millions. Hell, I am watching the freaking Olympics in LONDON right now.  (DAMN!!  Nice goal, Team USA women’s soccer!!!) In those days, someone who was spewing BS would literally get shouted down by those nearby who realized that the person was a rambling lunatic – there was no way said lunatic could reach the entire nation with dangerously disturbed ideas. Best you could do back then was an un-amplified bull horn or maybe get published in some small news rag.  Of course, even in those times they realized that this made the wealthy better able to have their voices heard, hence some quotes you may have seen about corporate power that our founding fathers made. They had no idea. Now, a few  mouse clicks can expose someone’s private life, one man with an opinion that most find repugnant can find many, many more like-minded people.  So, tricky.  Maybe I’ll have some answers after this bit and will add here, maybe not.  <later> Oh, yeah, they could also never have  anticipated that corporations would one day be “people” who can spend as much as they like pursuing “free speech” and saying fucking anything they want that will make people do what they want them to do, be it advertising for drugs no one needs, useless or even dangerous products or ….trying to buy a presidential election. And hiding behind the Fourth amendment to avoid disclosing who the real humans involved actually are. It is bat-shit insane that we allow this.

So, moving on. Guns. Not many can discuss this rationally. On the one hand, you have the pro-gun ownership people, who cite the 2nd amendment. Well, I can’t argue much on the big issue. without private gun ownership the Revolution would never have survived, and we would have remained under tyranny for – how long? Also, hunting and self-defence – both were BIG parts of life in new America, with real pirates, real “indians” who really did kill people, and no “911” from your cell phone to summon help. So, “yes guns for the people”, it is constitutional, and if this country ever gets so bad as it was back then, well, so be it.  We are NOT there now, so don’t go off on me.  Also, back then, there were basically two classes of guns – pistols and muskets/rifles (yes, they had true rifles then, dispite what some anti-gun folks say “all they had were smooth bore muskets – not accurate at all”  – this is not true.  The Americans used Kentucky Longriflemen as some of the worlds first snipers) ) and then were the BIG GUNS  such as cannon.  Military rifle were basically the same as hunting rifles.  Maybe add a bayonet.  Nothing anything like an AK-47 or M-16/AR-15. I would wager that a couple hundred modern soldiers -given enough ammunition and their modern gear – could have defeated the entire British army.  And may the gods help the nation who tries to invade US soil.  Remember the movie  “Red Dawn”, anyone?  Cold War straight up propaganda, but the point about how well armed Americans are is true.

The Founding Fathers had no idea that two hundred years later everyday people could buy weapons designed for waging war. For common firearms, there simply was not much difference, and who has a use for a cannon when hunting? We already have laws against fully automatic machine guns, thanks to the days of prohibition and the Thompson sub-machine-gun (great gun! fun to shoot!) among others.  Before the gun-nuts can go off, I own a gun, in times past have owned several.  I only have the one now, but it would make Dirty Harry proud.  I have, maybe 9 rounds for it, leftover from my last trip to the shooting range, admittedly years and years ago. I figure if I can’t stop an assailant with 6 rounds of .44 fire, then I am going to need help. If I really want to go out and shoot something bad-ass, I know a cop or two who runs a yearly marksmanship event, where they let you play with some bigger stuff. No need for an AR-15 with a hundred round magazine. Ever. If there’s a revolution, I’m sure some enterprising person can scare up better weapons. They have already been made. Rifles and handguns.  Single shot, semi-auto, revolver, yada yada yada.  In closets and garages and warehouses and under pillows and beds all over the North American continent. Yes ,-  Canada too.. This is why it is pointless and wrong to ban guns entirely – the pro-gun statement about only criminals having guns if guns are illegal is….true. There is a HUGE black market for guns, and until our society doesn’t drive demand, it will not go away any time soon.  Think about putting toothpaste back in the tube.  you might WANT it there, but it aint gonna happen.

I’m gonna skip the third amendment – not much of an issue these days.

The Fourth is a big one for me. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – THIS IS WHY ANONYMOUS AND MANY OTHERS fight against internet laws that would allow massive amounts of personal data to be collected and analyzed by government agencies this is, for the vast majority of people, a completely unreasonable search. It is the basis for what most people assume is a human right – the right to privacy, to have our personal lives public only so far as we wish.  They had no idea, none, that things like bank balances, phone numbers, memberships in private clubs, places we have visited, things we have bought, think we simply “like” are all possibly being searched, without cause or warrant.  They also had no idea that people thousands of miles from one anyone would be able to communicate dangerous information to almost anyone, or that people thousands of miles apart could form the tightest friendships of their lives without ever meeting some of their friends, but still knowing what they all look like, recognize their voices, and trust them with secrets. We have to be very careful here. Also unknown? Drug testing.  Drug testing welfare recipients is one of the worst violations of the Fourth Amendment I can imagine.  Have to prove you are not guilt – guilty before proven innocent.  Doesn’t sound so good now, does it?

The next, the Fifth, is pretty well understood until you read “when in actual service in time of War or public danger” – oops.  They never anticipated 9/11 and the now-never ending war on terror that kind of make “all the time, everywhere” a  possible cause to suspend this right. Mind you, I don’t think this would actually happen, but…well, I am writing this piece for a reason……what will they be writing about in two hundred years about us?

Skipping the next couple, #8, you have some troubles these days. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” – we live in a country where we have more people in prison per capita than any other nation on earth. The majority are for non-violent offenses.  The War on Some Drugs has failed. We all know it, anyone who doesn’t see the wrongness here just isn’t being honest. Mind you, I’m a NOT advocating legalizing all street drugs.  If I ever meet the meth dealer who got my friend hooked after she was clean for a year, I’m gonna knock him into tomorrow. But I digress. Bradley Manning is on trial for treason for telling the truth. There are states that are trying to pas laws that could make women who miscarry babies  into felons if they can’t prove it was a natural event.

Nine and Ten aren’t considered much –
Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment – Powers of States and people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Read these two a couple times.  They both end with “the people”.  Think about that.

Jumping ahead to the 13th and 14th amendment – ending slavery and establishing that people born here were citizens. I’m not actually going into the details of the causes of US Civil War.  The 13th is a no-brainer. No one would publicly claim to want to return to the days of slavery. but the next the 14th another double edged sword whose other edge wasn’t anticipated.  The fourteenth was INTENDED to make sure the children of slaves were citizens.  They hadn’t counted on our current trouble, with non-citizens essentially invading and having their kids become citizens.  Tricky. And at the time, something no one would really have considered even a potential problem. We can’t just kick them all out – that would be both impossible and incredibly cruel. Against our traditions. The statue of Liberty would weep if she knew what some were trying to do to immigrants. So we try compromises, I hope they work out.

Damn, been writing for almost two hours.

I gotta run and pick someone up from night classes.

Anyhow, just think about it.

MJ


The Thinking Viking is now also smelly as well as dirty.  Oof.  All this stuff is heavy when boxed up. Some of it just doesn’t pack well. Like this fan.  Or my sword collection. And how does everything get so dirty just lying around? Got an ignorable Sci-fi channel movie going for background noise, a can of Rolling Rock for refreshment.

Don’t pack the library books!  Don’t pack all the pots and pans – still need to make mac n cheese later.  On second thought, still have left overs from the pizza – after – the- farmers- market- meal so, scratch the mac n cheese.

ACHOO! ACHOO!! damn dust everywhere.  Wait – I have TWO scanners?

Actually, I have too much stuff. Three computers. Yes, I know, I’m a geek.  But three comcast remote controls as well? THREE?  Two identical bottle opener-corkscrews? Two giant pots? When am I ever going to cook four lobsters simultaneously?

And how to pack the chain mail and free weights? This stuff is heavy.  Ah, look at that. I still have her motorcycle helmet.  I’ts been what, six years? Out of sight, out of mind.  ebay, craigslist, next month, sell that thing.

Hey, it’s my CU – Boulder ID card…student number 1030 from spring 1997. Look at my damn hair.  But I am proud of the fact that I weigh the same as I did then, even if I’m not as athletic as I was then.  Gimme a break, I just turned 41 and I have a bunch of metal in my right ankle.  And..there’as my cane.

Bad memories there.

That was from when i was still recovering from my motorcycle-dump truck contest. The truck won. Had I not been wearing hard-core cycle gear, I would have likely broken both arms and maybe my collarbone as well.

my leg’s first post-surgery x-rays. You can see the staples and everything.

Wasn’t planing on writing about that.  But that’s how it goes when you move – weird stuff comes up.  Anyhow, about the leg – tri-malealor ankle fracture with displacement.  The bike right side engine case landed squarely on it as I went down. Doctors – three of them- all told me I would never run again. Fuck them.  It hurt like hell, for months and months – but I CAN run.  Secret is persistence.  Keep at it, every day, even if it seems like nothings happening.

That’s all for now, I’ll add more if anything interesting happens..

And it’s a Zippo from Antarctica.  “Operation Deep Freeze” from when my friend spent a summer…and WINTER down there.

MJ


The other day I posted to facebook a mini rant about people driving foolishly.  Next thing I know there’s a comment war about how “technology and video games” have made our kids fat .  Indeed.  Let’s look at this.

I don’t buy it.  I had the first generation of console games – not an Atari, a Colecovision, and damn did I love Donkey Kong.   At the mall and movie theatres and Kwik Stop I begged for quarters and later, hacked Super Mario Brothers and several other arcade games so I could play for hours.   I loved sugar on my cereal, soft drinks, and Halloween was a buffet.  I loved parades because the clowns threw out candy.  I had a TV in my room – black and white, but still.  Never got fat, and I don’t recall my friends being heavy either.  The fat kids got picked on.

The difference?  Mom.  She made sure I always had a bike.  She sent me to summer camp, nature camp, got me on a swim team, into Tae Kwon Do, and I rode my bike to soccer practice.  It was just normal.  The bike rack at my elementary school was full of bikes, many not even locked. Why steal a kids bike?  And most other moms were like this too. We felt sorry for the kids whose parents wouldn’t let them play with kids they didn’t know. It would have been embarrassing for mom to pick me up at soccer practice.

But things are different today.  Dangers lurk the streets.  White vans with kidnappers and pedophiles follow little girls and boys when they walk home from school. Drug dealers are everywhere, and in one instance of poor judgement, your little Suzie darling will turn into a meth addicted child prostitute.  If little Johnny plays in the park after school, he may miss his afternoon medications that keep his fragile personality from falling into full blown ADD.  And next thing you know, he is sporting a 9mm, has seven tattoos and poppin’ caps at cops.

This is, of course, almost utter nonsense.  In my childhood we didn’t have meth or crack.  But heroin and cocaine were plenty common, PCP and Crank. LSD.   We didn’t have child porn on the internet, but kids did get kidnapped. But with modern media reaching into every corner of our lives, what would once have been a local issue – with police and volunteers searching for missing kids and at most a face on a milk carton, we now have instantaneous Amber Alerts that reach across the country in seconds.  It glues people to their TV,  that drives ratings, ratings drive advertisers, and that means money.  Videos of gang beatings now go viral on Youtube.   Did this kind of thing happen in  my childhood? Sure, in the sense the gangs existed and people got robbed and beaten. But the whole world didn’t see it.  Fear is a commodity.  As I type this, a scrolling alert passed by on the nightly news that someone “attempted” to kidnap an eight year old girl, and the entire Bay Area saw that, and will see it again and again tonight.  In my childhood that would never have been broadcast on the news unless it was a serious repeated event.

And nothing scares a parent more than the thought that their child could come to harm.  So, what to do?  Drive them to school and back again.  Drive them to soccer practice, to the pool, to whatever activities they are part of.  Keep them safe from “The Street”.

Once they are safe at home, oh no, don’t let them go outside and play – they might never come back.

And then there is guilt.  Not sure of the numbers, but I am sure that many more families have two working parents, and this means less time with the kids.  Easy way to lessen this guilt is a video game that the kids beg them for, because all the other kids have one.  And while you’re at it, give that kid some snacks. There, now little Suzie is happy and safe. Whew.  Time to relax and hang out with the hubby or wife; it’s easier to sneak upstairs and fool around if you know your kids are safely posted to the TV or computer.

Pervasive video gaming and TV / computer time is a symptom, not a cause of the fat kids syndrome. In my humble opinion.

MJ