Lewis Black On Fox News and Black Friday

Lewis Black On Fox News and Black Friday

The above clip of Lewis Black on Black Friday exposes the absurdity of Fox News.  Apparently Fox News is coming down hard on workers that want off on Thanksgiving, but not on corporate stores that are forced to be open…

One day I hope that those that support the Republican Party, who aren’t rich, will wake up and see how it in no way, shape, or form represents the average American.

Fact Vs. Opinion

I watched the above Ted Talk the other day featuring journalist Michael Specter.  The talk focuses on people that refuse to listen to scientific facts, an example being those that are anti-vaccine.  The best part was when he talks about how people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

We have had a cold spell in Texas recently and the usual people talk about how this disproves climate change.  Anyone that actually reads about this subject knows that weather and climate are two different things.  If someone doesn’t want to do anything about climate change, it may be foolish at best, but that is their opinion.  However, if they deny that it is taking place, they are completely ignorant of the facts.  It is either that or they are knowingly telling a lie.

Here is a link to NASA and other scientific bodies that agree that climate change is happening and that man is causing it:

NASA and Other Scientific Groups Agree Man-made Climate Change is Happening

We must Make America Somewhere No One Wants To Live

toby-turtle

We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants To Live

A pretty funny article that is all too true about the current Republican leadership and their plans.  It says the Republican immigration plan is to turn America into, “somewhere no one wants to live.”

Hat tip to Kevin Russell

Off to Australia and Other Thoughts

australia_map

Posting has been a little slow the last two days.  I’m heading out for Australia on Saturday morning and I have been busy trying to get my shit together.  I am meeting my parents there.  They have been there for about two weeks already and have told me some interesting things about Australia.  Australia has, like most of the modern western world, universal healthcare.  They also have a high minimum wage.  Every Australian must also, by law, vote.  If they don’t vote they either get a fine or must do community service.  Most of the people that they have talked to there seemed stunned by the poverty that exists in the US.  I’m interested in talking to people when I get there about this sort of thing.  When you travel abroad it is constantly amazing at how closely people follow US politics in other countries, especially when we often know so little about those countries in return.

When I fly I like to take one serious book and one for fun.  I will continue reading S.C. Gwynne’s biography of Stonewall Jackson, that I have talked about here.  I also am going to read a biography of AC/DC that got really good reviews.  (I am obsessed with The Civil War and AC/DC at the moment.  Don’t question how my mind works!)  That biography is called The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC.

I just finished watching Ken Burns’s The Civil War last night.  The last episode was about what happened after Lee surrendered.  I couldn’t help but wonder if all of the accolades we bestow upon warriors is actually harmful to the warriors themselves.  In heaping praise on the profession of being a soldier, in making what they do be seen as a lofty profession, do we not make it easier for ourselves to put them in harms way?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t value what they do, nor am I a utopian.  There are some really bad people in the world and we need soldiers to keep us safe from those people.  I simply mean in making monuments to them, especially to generals and the like, and creating a sort of cult of worship, do we allow ourselves some kind of remove from what they are doing and what we are making them do?  Just questions without answers.

Well I will have internet in Australia.  I also hope to be on here more before I leave, but no promises.  If I’m being honest I can’t tell if I knew I needed to update my blog, or if I just wanted to put off cleaning my house for 20 minutes!

Jobs Swallowed by Technology

I don’t mean to bum you out on such a day as Tuesday.  Tuesday is, in my mind, the worst day of the week. You at least get some Mondays off, there is Monday night football, etc.  Wednesday you are already at hump day.  Tuesday, even when I was drinking heavily, was a night I normally don’t go out.  My brother and I always joke about making a horror film called, “Night of a Thousand Tuesdays.”

Anyway, earlier this week, I downloaded an app turning my phone into a flashlight.  It works incredibly well, better than the last real flashlight I bought.  My current Kindle doesn’t have a light on it and I needed something to see my book when I go on tour.  But then I thought to myself, “What is going to happen to all the people that make flashlights?”  I have a guitar tuner on my phone as well.  What is going to happen to all the people that made and sold guitar tuners?  And I was thinking about how my phone does a thousand things that I used to need a thousand things to do.  On one hand, for someone that travels, this is great.  On the other, how many jobs is this technology putting out of business?  (How many people that worked for companies associated with books were put out of business by the Kindle and other reading tablets?)

I’m not claiming these are new thoughts.  These kind of thoughts have troubled people all along during our technological revolution.  What they make me think is that now, more than ever, we need a safety net for people whose work disappears as these tech giants kill jobs.  When the Republicans in power twist and twitch to dismantle every safety net they can, we need to think about how this is even worse than in the past.  We also need smarter consumers, that make decisions not only on what is based upon their needs, but the good of the community.  I’ll admit, I’m as lazy as anyone.  And to some degree the genie is out of the lamp.  But I think it is at least good to start thinking about these things.

This is just a hunch, but I feel like the places that stick together as communities are going to live lives worth living, and the places that let inequality be the law of the land are going to become more and more hellish.  Call me crazy.

The Past is Not Past

I spent most of the day either at rehearsal or learning about Stonewall Jackson.  S.C. Gwynne has written another captivating book.  I’m not far enough into it to feel that I can talk about it, but there is no question that Jackson was a “unique” individual.  Today was one of those days that slipped through my grasp.  One minute I’m drinking coffee and the next the sun is going down.

After this recent election, which seems to defy reason, I have been looking for answers about our current political climate in our history and culture.  How did we arrive at this moment in time?  Take climate change for instance, something for which Obama just made a great step forward with his deal with China.  (I am still reading up on our deal with China for more specifics.)  The fact that climate change is occurring is scientific fact.  There is some uncertainty as to the exact outcome, but don’t get confused by the word uncertainty.  Think about if a large rainstorm came in.  You know that the ground will be soaked, but you can’t say for certain if the big oak tree out front is going to fall over.  That however, doesn’t mean it is not raining.  Anyway, so science and all reason point to climate change happening, yet not only does a portion of the populace not believe it is real, but we have elected officials that are not scientists, that claim they know more than scientists, going to be in charge of parts of our environmental policy.

Now there is no doubt that these people are for the most part bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.  You don’t have to be Columbo to deduce that.  You also don’t have to be Columbo to figure out that the regions with the most jobs in the fossil fuel industry are also the regions that are most against us doing anything about climate change.  Yet I don’t think it is as simple as a mere question of economics.

From the very beginning of our country there is an element that is against any kind of centralized authority.  Part of our country also puts faith above reason.  I just read in the Stonewall Jackson book last night that in 1850 Florida only had 85,000 inhabitants and half of them were slaves.  It is hard to imagine that modern Florida, with Disney World and Miami and the countless beach resorts, was created in 164 years, which is the lifespan of two humans.  Go to Miami and think about how two lives ago it was a desolate swamp.  As far as civilization goes our country is but a baby.

I am still thinking about all of this myself.  I wanted to ask those of you that read this a rhetorical question.  How does our unique American history and culture affect the way in which we think politically?  Places that were settled by different ethnic and religious groups often ended up quite different.  Places that had to subdue the land and keep people oppressed often ended up quite different than places that were booming with industry.  All of these things factor into who we are now.  How so?

John Lydon, Richard III, and the False Choice Between Empathy and Strength

KevinSpaceyRichardIII

Those that have been reading along will know that lately I have been fascinated by the career of John Lydon (Johnny Rotten).  I have read his two autobiographies, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs and Anger is an Energy, and I have watched the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury.  One of the things that many people don’t get is that Lydon has a great sense of humor and fun.  Although he felt there were important things that needed to be said, he knew how to get a crowd wound up, and he always did things with a sense of fun.  I found it really interesting that his Johnny Rotten persona was partially based on Shakespeare’s Richard III.  Richard is a deformed scheming character that uses his wits to rise to power.  

That led me to wanting to learn more about the play.  Tonight I am watching the Al Pacino documentary Looking for Richard.  This is a documentary where Pacino is trying to figure out how to get the average person to understand and open up to Shakespeare.  The film is scenes of the play intercut with discussions about what the play means and how to perform it.

This little bit of dialog interested me:

First Murderer:

Relent!  Tis cowardly and womanish.

Clarence:

Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.

What is happening in that scene is that Richard has sent two murderers to kill a character named Clarence who is in line for the throne.  Clarence is trying to talk the murderers out of killing him.  The above lines are just a very small snippet from the scene.

I want to take them out of context for a moment.  I’ve been thinking lately about how males are given false choices about being macho and being weak.  The murderer says basically that showing mercy is to be weak.  Clarence replies that to murder is to be savage.  So many times in our society men make choices about what to do based upon if people will perceive them to be weak or strong.

Morrissey sang, in the song I Know It’s Over, that it, “takes strength to be gentle and kind.”  Well this is true, so often people send the opposite message.  Why is it that caring about nature and other people is often perceived as being weak?  How many times have you heard someone say, about someone that cares about the environment for instance, that they are some kind of, “faggot hippie.”  Meanwhile, men that rape the earth and exploit other people are often thought of as being strong and powerful, when they are really just giving in to their own ego?

I have seen so many times when males, who are really quite frightened of the world, hide behind a macho exterior.  I remember a gig in a redneck area where almost every single vehicle in the parking lot was a pickup truck.  The males at that show acted very macho.  There was clearly something tribal going on.  They were acting proud and macho, but they were really a part of a herd mentality and were clearly afraid of standing out as individuals.  It doesn’t take any strength to go along with the crowd.

And yes there are plenty of people on the left that subscribe to the herd mentality as well.  When I see a crowd of hipsters or hippies they are basically just wearing a different costume.  They are part of their own little tribe with its own rules.  They may think that they are individuals, but they are no different than a group that is all wearing suits or cowboy hats or whatever.

So many of the problems the world faces right now require cooperation with other people.  Many of our problems require national if not global solutions.  We need to get things done and macho male pride will only get in the way.

It takes strength to be gentle and kind.  It takes strength to be open minded and to be an individual.  It takes strength to stand up to a crowd when they are doing something wrong.  We need to make it more clear in our society that empathy and strength are not opposites.  Males are often taught the opposite of this.  However, if men keep acting this way, and one should mention that women have played their part in allowing this kind of attitude to persist, it will eventually lead to our doom.  The world can no longer bear males that are afraid to look weak in place of the common good.

The above photo is Kevin Spacey as Richard III.