Loose Cannon on Deck

The term, loose cannon, has been around a long time. Cannons used on sailing vessels were large, typically weighing several tons. To avoid damage from the recoil when they were fired, they were mounted on rollers and secured with rope. The cannon jumped backwards when fired. If you have ever fired a weapon, you are familiar with recoil. The cannons get hot when they are used in battle, and each time a cannon is fired, it jumps higher and rolls farther. If the ropes holding the cannon secure were to break, a loose cannon would roll backwards and crush anything—or . . . → Read More: Loose Cannon on Deck

Dumbfounded, Discouraged, and Dismayed

I haven’t posted anything new in a while. I’ve been too busy reading the political news and wringing my hands. My sense is that the world situation is getting worse. We have, of course, had “dark days” in times past. I’m not sure there has ever been a time the planet was without at least one war going on. Most recently, in the States we experienced the World Wars (I and II), the Korean War, the “conflict” in Vietnam, and whatever is currently going on in the Mid-East. We’ve also had Civil Rights challenges, and various other conflicts and difficulties . . . → Read More: Dumbfounded, Discouraged, and Dismayed

When the Mode of the Music Changes

You can tell a lot about people based on their musical preferences. I borrow my title from a radical group from the ’60s, the Fugs, and one of their old songs:

It would be pretty hard to know me well without knowing when and where I grew up and how I had been influenced by the music of my youth. I assume that the same is true for everyone. The concept has been most fully explored by Morris Massey, who wrote about the three main periods in a person’s maturation process:

The Imprint Period. From birth . . . → Read More: When the Mode of the Music Changes

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

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

What Did You Get for Christmas?

On a cold and frosty late-December morning, when I lived in a previous neighborhood, I was out walking my dog. It was so long ago that in the years between then and now, not only has that dog died of old age, but my next two dogs have also died of old age. Even so, on that late-December morning I said something that still haunts me. A boy who lived in a nearby house, ran up to me holding up a new pair of gloves, saying excitedly, “See what I got! New gloves!” My reply: “They are really neat. Did . . . → Read More: What Did You Get for Christmas?

Social Media and Our Collective Well-being

A long time ago (1985) a New York University professor, Neil Postman, published Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. One of the principal ideas is that television is “entertainment,” even when the subject is serious. The “news” becomes just another “show.”

From time to time I have wondered what Professor Postman would have thought about social media. His principal complaint about television was that it turns “news” into “entertainment.” Rational discourse was replaced by video and sound “bites,” with the focus of attention increasingly fleeting and fragmented. I remember the history of television . . . → Read More: Social Media and Our Collective Well-being