A Media Star Is Born

Given the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election, everyone needs read Neil Postman’s 1982 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Reading it won’t change the outcome of the election, of course, but it will provide understanding for how and why it happened the way it did. Postman’s main point is that print encourages logic and reflection. Visual media, and television in particular, encourage the feelings of the moment. To be taken seriously and believed, written documents need to be logical and coherent. To be successful, visual media need to influence feelings. We . . . → Read More: A Media Star Is Born

Not with a Bang But a Whimper

T.S. Eliot ends his poem, . . . → Read More: Not with a Bang But a Whimper

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Coronation

Although all presidential elections in the US are “historic,” our most recent election will probably go down in history as the most historic of all. As most of you already know, the election featured the first woman candidate to be nominated by a major political party, and the first major oligarch who pretended to be the candidate of the people. It also featured more—a lot more—of the usual yelling and screaming—and sometimes punching and shoving—than most US presidential contests.

One of the influencing factors was, of course, accomplishments of President Obama, many resented him because he was the first . . . → Read More: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Coronation

Politics as Usual?

Will Rogers famously said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” The sense that Republicans are “lock-step” in pursuit of their objectives, while Democrats are no better organized than a herd of cats, has been around since the days of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the frantic search for Communists thought to have infiltrated the US government. Republicans learned how to stick together during the “Cold War,” and it was not long until they had developed what came to be known as the Southern Strategy, which was essentially race-based politics, designed to take advantage of White . . . → Read More: Politics as Usual?

What A Week, Part 2

My last post with the title, “What a Week,” was about racial violence. Although it would be easy to write a new post on all the racial violence that has happened since, I will focus instead on the political mess we (those of us in the States) have created for ourselves. I’ve seen a lot of elections over the years, and I can’t recall any previous election when so many people disliked both candidates. Hold Your Nose and Choose provides a strategy for deciding between the lesser of two evils. One of the jokes making the rounds about the upcoming . . . → Read More: What A Week, Part 2

What a Week

The impetus for this blog is the recent spate of race-based violence we have experienced following the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. The history of the US has, of course, a long record of race-based violence. How could it be otherwise when slavery was present from our earliest days. It is easy to forget, for example, that the White House was built by slave labor.

I am old enough to remember early TV news coverage of what were deemed “race riots” in the 1950s and ’60s. The principal minorities in the town where I grew up (Los . . . → Read More: What a Week

Paying Attention

My last blog post was about the so-called ancient Chinese curse of “living in interesting times.” All the problems I cited in that post are not only still with us, but also have been amplified. Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the US. Although the nominee for the Democrats has not been finally decided yet, Hilary Clinton is the likely candidate. Although I am still paying attention to US politics, I am doing so with an increasingly heavy heart. Even so, some other things have caught my attention, including website advertising, LGBT concerns and legislation, . . . → Read More: Paying Attention

Living in Interesting Times

The wish, “May you live in interesting times,” is assumed to be an Ancient Chinese Curse because “interesting times” typically meant war, rumors of war, and loss of economic and political stability. Regardless of whether it really is an ancient curse, when you read and/or watch news of today’s events, you’ll see just how many of the factors that make times “interesting” are present today. Here’s a partial list:

In the Mid-East, we have ISIS, an on-going war, the destruction of ancient cities, and millions of refugees.

In Europe, we have millions of refugees seeking a place they can . . . → Read More: Living in Interesting Times

Time Flies

I knew that it had been a while since my last posting, but I had no idea how long it had been. John Lennon is usually given credit for saying that “life is what happens while you are making other plans,” which is included in the lyrics for Beautiful Boy, written for his son, Sean. Since my last blog, we’ve had two major holidays (Christmas and New Year’s), and more than a month has slipped away while I was busy making other plans. And shoveling snow. It is, after all, winter in Michigan….

We have had some winter weather . . . → Read More: Time Flies

The Spin I’m In

In “That Ol’ Black Magic,” in reference to the Ol’ Black Magic of love, Robbie Williams says he’s loving the spin he’s in. Love isn’t of course, the only “Black Magic,” that puts people in a spin. In the U.S., we’ve grown increasingly aware of the “spin” used by major corporations and politicians to influence politics and consumer behavior. “Spin” is basically a biased interpretation. While some form of “spin” has undoubtedly been with us throughout human history, the “father” of modern political spin is usually thought to be canaries in cages down in coal mines so that, when the . . . → Read More: The Spin I’m In