I did not watch the Oscars last night. Which is something of a rarity. Rather, I spoke on the phone with an old friend who rang me up out of the blue. We talked through nearly the entire show. And, I can say that I did not miss the award show one bit.
As most of my friends who call or speak with me on the phone know, I love to talk, at length, about anything and everything – from politics to personal life – and some conversations are marathons.
Because of that, I have a good number of old and new friends who seek me out for just that: long, very specific, multiple-topic, gregarious, nostalgic, personal, emotional, intellectual, political, spiritual, goofy conversations, and / or just plain old chat-chat.
Our long conversations are a throwback to the days when we’d meet at the pub, sit down over a pint (or two or three) and eat some food and just talk about our lives, the world in general, politics, music, cinema.
Today, the 138 year-old phone allows us to have those conversations when we live variously in NY and Fort Collins, or in different boroughs of the city, or upstate and the city or NYC and Omaha. We do “talk” regularly via social media, but it’s just not the same. It is sorely lacking.
It occurred to me how under-appreciated the phone is these days. It really is superior to all the social media. As fun and great looking and immediate as social media is, it lacks something integral and very important. Conversations on the telephone function as a true dialectic. The written word of social media is inferior to speaking when creating a dialectic, because writing interferes with the back-and-forth, as emotional context, and intellectual context are removed with the use of the written word.
For example, how many times have you misread someone’s intent as being serious when they were being sarcastic? It happens repeatedly in a written discussion, especially one that is online. It is why so many of the discussions on the internet bounce around in a pointless loop. It’s why “trolling” – the act of deliberately inserting emotional wedge issues and diversion into a conversation – is so popular and works so well on the web. If you were in a bar, and tried to “troll” a face-to-face conversation, you would more than likely get punched in the face.
The use of anonymity on the web also fosters a certain level of hubris. Even when people aren’t anonymous, they feel empowered to say things online that they would not actually speak aloud in person. Physical presence and an actual dialectic have a strong role to play in our lives. The emotional and intellectual impact within a conversation remain intact in a face-to-face or a phone conversation. Hubris and sarcasm and all the rest come into play, but it’s more directly understood and dealt with as such immediately. It trumps social media in that regard.
In the end, engaging a dialectic properly (and often), means that a conversation will yield ideas, and solutions. A deeper emotional connection between two (or more) people will develop. Some discussions are actually meant to last a life time. If we practice them properly.
To the ancient Greek Sophists, the dialectic, the discussion, was an art form. It was the practice they taught to achieve higher truths. And, through those higher truths, lay peace, happiness and community. It’s something we’ve lost along the way, and should endeavor to re-establish and nurture.
The lesson for me is that, like my friends, I have remembered that simply picking up the phone to talk is important and valuable. The telephone is old technology, but it’s still the best if you want to have a conversation that breathes, and grows and adds to your life.Read More
Few video stills from the music video I directed and shot recently. Never underestimate the importance of a good location if you want to make a retro video. Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm lens, shot at 24p. It doesn’t get any more guerrilla than this…Read More
A bit of historical revisionism occurred recently. Dozens of news outlets, including Fox Nation, and dozens of conservative blogs were repeating the same inaccurate headline verbatim (or nearly): “Obama Administration to Ban Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns“. Little Green Footballs debunks the story handily. But, it’s emblematic of a larger problem, a culture of lying, and revising established fact-based history.
Oliver Willis catches one conservative trying to backtrack without admitting the error and calls it as he sees it:Read More
It’s been difficult for the Tea Party faithful to simply admit that yes, they do have racists among them. Every party does, why should they be any different? It obviously doesn’t mean they are all racist any more than it means that Democrats or Republicans are all racist because they have racists in their ranks. It does though raise important questions that American’s have to weigh when looking at the party, or any party for that matter. There are racists in all parties. Even the Tea Party. But, for some reason, they resist it. My intuition tells me this is because they are hiding the ugly fact that for some one of their primary motivations against Obama is racism. It wouldn’t be new in the annals of American conservative extremism and nativism. So, along comes confirmation of my intuition.
Apparently, my post last year on Glenn Beck’s pleading to the Tea Party to leave their signs at home for the “Restoring Honor” rally struck a cord. Here’s a comment made in, of all places, a fishing forum. (Which popped up in my trackbacks.)
It’s rather revelatory, because it pretty much dances over the blatant racism in the signs I use as examples in my post. Either the author – who not surprisingly uses the anonymous moniker “Detbuch”- doesn’t see the racism, or thinks it’s not important. Either way, he pretty much proves my point.
The anonymous “Detbuch” opens up with a basic logical fallacy, using a straw man argument to essentially say: “Some great American’s were racist, should we have not listened to them?” Which misses the point entirely. He adds to it with more apologizing for racism via the “we’re all racists” approach. He goes after me a little, not realizing that I didn’t have a problem with the stated point of the Beck rally, I was though making it clear that it was obvious why Beck was asking attendees not to bring signs, because he was afraid there would be racist signs. (As it turned out, that was the least of his worries.) Then in the middle, he gets to doing a “critique” of the photos in my post, in a rather pathetic attempt to prove the signs are not racist.
The problem with personal/anecdotal accounts is that they are all only tiny slices of reality, or versions of reality. Living in Detroit, most of my acquaintances are black. In private situiations, they are all overtly racist–unabashedly and proudly so. They are all Democrats. Is that a reason to not associate with Democrats? FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Sanger (founder of planned parenthood), the founders of this nation, were all racists. I suppose they should not have been associated with. Maybe most, if not all of us, are or have some degree of racism, and we should all become hermits. Can’t we, even with racist tendencies, still have salutary ideas and solutions to political and economic problems? Can’t we even be constitutionalists?
As for Twang’s thang re Beck’s restoring honor rally–just another biased hit piece–and one before the rally even occurred. Speaking of some previous rally, he, as is the common practice, cherry picks a few signs that he considers racist or having racist themes, totally ignoring the host of other signs such as one minutely seen in a background–“congress works for us not the other way around”–which is the predominant animus for the tea party movement. Even most of those he chooses, though rude and crude, are not racist. One refers to religion not race. Another reversed the slavery cliche. Two compared Obamacare to voodoo, another referred to his supposed connection to Islam (Hussein), the Dixie Chicks, and his supposed non-citizenship (Kenya). Another slammed cap and trade and played on the word “trade”–to “trade” him back to his supposed lack of citizenship (Kenya). The last one actually had a racist, mispelled pejorative “niggar.” Twang totally spins and paints Glen Beck’s positive attempt to unify Americans with, at the time, an upcoming rally, into Twang’s misconceived, hateful version–“Beck’s decision to blatantly ride on the coat of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement is nothing except a badly orchestrated and cynical effort to coopt the gravitas of MLK and the Rights Movement in order to replace the glaring lack of it in the Tea Party movement.” Twang’s own lack of “gravitas” is evident in his myopic, slanted, name-calling (teabaggers, tea bag party) and too easy and uncritical accusation that the tea party is a platformless group of know nothings. The actual Restoring Honor rally was of a different philosophical “color” than that which Twang tried to paint it.
Each sign that I highlighted in the post has a unique view that is blatantly racist. It’s not difficult to figure out. But “Detbuch” glosses over it with the nonchalance of one completely desensitized to racist jargon and imagery.
Let’s go over each photo with “Detbuch’s comments and see what’s what.
“Even most of those he chooses, though rude and crude, are not racist. One refers to religion not race.”
“Detbuch” misses the obvious racism here which is implied. Comparing the Christian and the Kenyan with a final “That explains a lot about you.” is a basic eliminationist tactic. It’s implying that being Christian is good and that being Kenyan is a threat in some way, or that is means something bad. It’s hard to think of any of reason why someone would think that being from Kenya is bad other than the fact that Kenyan’s are dark colored. What other reason can you think of?
“Another reversed the slavery cliche.”
Clearly, “Detbuch” is simply not honest enough to see that implying that Obama is a “massa” is using racist loaded imagery and words to make it’s point. And, of course, the idea that a black man in power would be compared to a white man in power in this regard is using racist ideas to make it’s point. “Detbuch” chooses to gloss over it.
“Two compared Obamacare to voodoo…”
Racism is always about demeaning the person. This is an attempt to present Obama as a primitive, an ignorant “witch doctor”. The term “bone in the nose” was often used – and still is – as a racist insult. Pretty cut and dry, wouldn’t you think? I suspect that “Detbuch” lacks essential compassion for blacks, so he simply can’t see the racism that is blatantly clear here. It’s meant to demean Obama and lower him. Perhaps “Detbuch” doesn’t understand the actual definition of racism?
“…another referred to his supposed connection to Islam (Hussein), the Dixie Chicks, and his supposed non-citizenship (Kenya)”
Notice how “Detbuch” glosses over the “go back to Kenya” slight. To him, it’s just a reference to Obama’s “supposed non-citizenship”. When actually, such references have a long racist history. Telling people to go back to their native land is a long time cry of Nativists and racists. “Go back to Africa” for example. You’d think he’d brush up this stuff wouldn’t you?
“Another slammed cap and trade and played on the word “trade”–to “trade” him back to his supposed lack of citizenship (Kenya).” Here’s the photo:
Once again, “Detbuch” misses the racism here. This one is so obvious, it’s just like the prior one. I wonder why Detuch doesn’t see it? Probably because he focuses on the “cap and trade” but not the actual racist part that says: “go back to Kenya!”. Odd that. Maybe he didn’t read it all?
The last part by “Detbuch” I won’t even go into since Detbuch simply tries to turn the tables on me, and he does such a bad job of it I’d be wasting my time. And, the term “Tea Baggers”, and “Tea Party” are commonly used on Tea Party sites to refer to themselves. Interesting how he thinks my using the term is some type of insult. Who knew. I’d suspect like most Tea Partiers, he was completely unaware of the double meaning, of the former and was not happy. That’s what you get for stealing something rather than inventing your own name.
Finally, it’s telling that “Detbuch” apparently has no idea that the Know Nothings were a real conservative political movement and that the reference to them was not a slight as in “know nothings” but a historical fact that the modern Tea Party are the philosophical and political heir to the Know Nothing party of the 1800s.
Isn’t it odd that “Detuch” doesn’t know his own political ancestry?Read More
Over the past 250 years, as the industrial revolution progressed and was then superseded by the modern technological age, an epistemological crisis began to fester and grow quietly in the shadows. Our ability to obtain, disseminate, and – most importantly – apply knowledge, has been severely hindered by our industrial and technological success and our response to that success. We have achieved great feats with little or no perceived negative ramifications, thus establishing a false sense of stability in ourselves, our place in the natural order, and the way in which we process and use knowledge. Our ability to shoot for the moon – literally – meant that we presumed we could do no wrong. A precarious place to be to be sure.
And, as the decades rolled on, each continual success served to confirm our superiority over all – even the truth was manipulated. Responsibility fell to the way side. And, if a negative ramification presented itself, we quickly waved it away with the simple justification that the world and everything within it was ours to do with as we wish, and profiting from it was a natural act. Our birthright. It never occurred to us that building an economy based primarily upon a single finite resource – oil – would some day place our entire civilization at great risk of collapse.
Adolfo Doring‘s excellent documentary Blind Spot, contains an interview with Jason Bradford, who explains this epistemological issue very succinctly and eloquently as it relates to our inability to see reality and deal with the responsibility of our massively consumptive society.
We have lost the ability to deal with the concept of responsibility in a proper manner both as individuals and as a society. It’s quite important because lack of responsibility, and its consequence of not confronting reality, leads to the inability to solve complex problems and establish consistent ethical boundaries. Both are the cornerstones of a successful society. A society that is unable to deal with important issues responsibly, and use that knowledge to its advantage in a way that is beneficial to a majority of its citizens is a society that will die. We see the results today in the current culture war. Everyone senses that something is wrong, we simply can’t agree on the truth. It’s as if we’re entrenched in a form of madness.
Which brings us to Charlie Sheen.
As the mass media exploits and the public gorges itself on the ever-unfolding tragic life of actor Charlie Sheen, it has become apparent that Sheen is a practitioner of this epistemological disconnect. So is the mass media. They are by no means alone in this endeavor. It’s widespread. We are all in some way or another, practitioners of the epistemological disconnect from responsibility.
We now face the challenge of rebuilding how we think, how we acquire knowledge and information, and how we apply that knowledge. It is, as Douglas Rushkoff has said, a new renaissance.
Today’s scary paranoid statement. Proof positive that fear propaganda works. And, works quite well:
“This whole TSA terrorism is nothing more than obama getting back at the American people for his “shellacking” at the polls…”
It must be utterly exhausting to contain so many bloated, incorrect and downright insipid conspiracy theories inside such a wee little brain.Read More
Glenn Beck is one cynical and desperate dude. The upcoming “Restoring Honor” rally at Lincoln Memorial is meant to re-brand the sullied and racist image of the Tea Party into the rainbow coalition just in time for the fall election. But, Beck’s decision to blatantly ride on the coat tails of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement is nothing except a badly orchestrated and cynical effort to co-opt the gravitas of MLK and the rights movement in order to replace the glaring lack of it in the Tea Party movement. They are that desperate.
It gets even better though. From the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
On the air, Beck has asked attendees not to bring signs or come in anger, but to come in a peaceful spirit akin to the one espoused by King. “Don’t bring your signs,” he said on TV. “Bring your hearts … bring your open minds.”
Not bring signs? It’s a rally! Of course you bring signs! But, Beck is obviously concerned. It’s an admission that something went astray last time. He’s worried the same thing may occur this time. The Tea Party 9/12 rally last year was a smörgåsbord of racism and allusions to racist themes. Some examples for historical context:
The Tea Bag Party faithful brushed the documented claims of racism off as untrue, even in the face of the photographic and video evidence. Perhaps they simply can not see the racism. Perhaps they don’t want to see it. But, America knows what it saw.
To be clear, I’m not saying all Tea Baggers are racist. Yet, it can’t be denied that there is a strong racist element within the Tea Party ranks, and that a great deal of the motivation behind the entire platform (such as is is) is of a nativist, racist, hateful and eliminationist nature. Historically, fear, hate and racism have been great allies. And, they continue to be such. The Tea Party is the current day Nativist party, a modern version of the Know-Nothings. The platforms and ideas espoused are practically identical. No one disuptes that the Know-Nothings were a racist and eliminationist movement. The question remains who will claim the mantle of leadership of the Tea Party. Who will speak out against the racism?
The signs above tell the story. Will it happen again? Time will tell.Read More
Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania has gone after President Obama for deciding to appear on the daytime talk show “The View”:
I think there’s got to be a little bit of dignity to the presidency. […] I think there are some shows. I wouldn’t put him on “Jerry Springer,” too, right? … I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows. And “The View” is, you can make a case that it’s a serious show, but it also rocks and rolls a little bit. I’m not sure he has to go on “The View” to be open to questions.
Right-wing Extremists have picked this up and run with it of course. But, they and Rendell miss the Big Picture. They don’t get it.
Back in 1993, President Clinton was heavily criticized for deciding to appear on MTV. It too was seen as “unpresidential”. But, at the time, and in retrospect, it was a brilliant stroke of media genius. And, through an entirely unscripted moment of unexpected “intimacy”, a new media world was born. Love it, hate it, it’s here. And, it’s important to remember, Obama is working in that world. The Museum of Television has this to say about that past media moment for Clinton, snd how it changed politics and the Presidency:
April 20, 1993 — Bill Clinton’s MTV Appearance
Not a historic date, perhaps, but a suggestive one. It was on this date that Bill Clinton discussed his underwear with the American people (briefs, not boxers, as it turned out). Why would the leader of the free world unburden himself like this? Why not? In television’s increasingly postmodern world, all texts–serious and sophomoric–swirl together in the same discontinuous field of experience. To be sure, Mr. Clinton made his disclosure because he had been asked to do so by a member of the MTV generation, not because he felt a sudden need to purge himself. But in doing so Clinton exposed several rules connected to the new phenomenology of politics: (1) because of television’s celebrity system, presidents are losing their distinctiveness as social actors and hence are often judged by standards formerly used to assess rock singers and movie stars; (2) because of television’s sense of intimacy, the American people feel they know their presidents as persons and hence no longer feel the need for party guidance; (3) because of the medium’s archly cynical worldview, those who watch politics on television are increasingly turning away from the policy sphere, years of hyper-familiarity having finally bred contempt for politics itself. For good and ill, then, presidential television grew apace between 1952 and the present. It began as a little-used, somewhat feared, medium of exchange and transformed itself into a central aspect of American political culture. In doing so, television changed almost everything about life in the White House. It changed what presidents do and how they do it. (Emphasis added)
Rendell doesn’t get it. The View is the perfect venue for Obama to communicate and reach out to the audience.
The idea that a show isn’t “presidential” enough is a matter of how the president behaves on that show. And, while I’m not a fan of The View, it’s clearly not Jerry Springer. It’s a show for moms, young women and older women. And, it’s a casual venue. As the Clinton example shows, even something potentially unpresidential can become a historical moment of presidential restraint, humor and connectedness to the people. And, a casual venue is the way to go to bring Obama to the people, give him more humanity and appeal, which media exposure tends to eat away.
I’d expect that is what many Conservatives fear.Read More
Douglas Rushkoff @ SXSW on being a victim of media, an observer or a proactive user. Great stuff. We need to create an environment where media is not accepted at face value but rather is appreciated as the tool that it is… We tend to allow our literacy to be absorbed by technology and immediacy of media in the 21st century. New dialogs need to be created. And, they will.Read More
Jim Hoft, the last great American Patriot in America gets all litigious on Al Gore:
A seven-month old baby girl survived a shot to the chest after her parents shot themselves and their two-year-old in a global warming murder-suicide pact. […] Someone should sue Al Gore. He played on their fears and now a whole family is dead.
We’ll let it slide that if the seven-month old baby survived it would technically mean that the “whole family” was not actually dead, since it’s obvious that Jim is blinded by his grief. So, just as I was considering the warped logic of suing Al Gore for the motive and actions of two obviously mentally deranged persons, when the following came over the AP:
The leader of a household described as a religious cult was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday along with two of her followers for starving a 1-year-old boy to death because he did not say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer.
The logic of Hoft’s thinking is laid out in all it’s bare nekkid silliness. Given that Jim believes Al Gore should be sued because he “played on their fears and now a whole family is dead” because of global warming, doesn’t it make sense that someone should be sued for the death of the little boy because he wouldn’t say “Amen”? Who inspired this cult to murder? Let’s start with Jesus Christ and end with every Christian church on the planet.
You can see where this is going.
It’s ridiculous of course, but Hoft has never been known for his intellect or integrity nor his consistency. He’s a propagandist, and a good one.
So, anything to taint Al Gore in the eyes of the true believers, even the patently ridiculous, is fair game.
Monday link dump…
- Cheney: Waterboarding should have been an option for underbomber – “I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques,” he said. Of course, for years the CIA has maintained that torture does not produce actionable intel. And, of course, the public practice of torture (they went public with this remember) is more PR than anything. I am of the opinion that Cheney understands that torture does not create actionable intel. But, the propaganda value is simply too great in his view. This is the discussion we should be having…
- Cheney Struggles To Explain Terror Contradictions – Dick Cheney has never been one for consistency of message, nor of adhering to the established facts. It’s unfortunate that he now feels comfortable undermining a sitting president (no matter his political affiliation) in order to secure his own personal legacy and save his ass.
- Biden: Cheney ‘not entitled to re-write history’ – See above.
- A Terrorist Tried In Federal Court: The Case Of Aafia Siddiqui – When we examine the facts, it becomes clear that the GOP is using terrorism as political fodder. So, facts such as this get brushed under the carpet. It’s bad for the coutnry and it’s bad politics. But, they are a party in decline after all…I am for trying terrorists in civilian courts. So is the Pentagon.
- Critical Mass: Dem Agenda Opens Right-Wing Doors – Mandatory reading…
During the show, Douglas has an interesting conversation with Paul Krassner that touches on how issue oriented satire has changed over time from Lenny Bruce to Jon Stewart, conspiracy theories in the real world and Krassner’s new book Who’s to Say What’s Obscene:Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today.
Please listen to the entire show. The segment below runs five minutes.
Mp3 file located at Internet ArchiveRead More
A few links worth sharing….
- Truly Free Film: Plea To The New Generation: Embrace Transmedia Storytelling! – Ted Hope links to a great article on the future of film making. The world is changing, the mediascape is changing to be sure, but there are opportunities. It makes me smile knowing kindred spirits are out there!
- Nice article on Yoko Ono, review of her upcoming album…
Here’s Black Angel’s Death Song:Read More
When we think of racism our minds generally conjure up stark and frightening images – Klu Klux Klan rallies, burning crosses, and the like – but in reality, the bulk of racist activity is very short term, and deceptively simple in how it works.
Racist actions are embedded into our cultural behavior and often occur pretty much unremarked upon every single day. A reality that most white people have no clue about, and most people of color quietly endure day in and day out. People of color are simply treated differently than white people, especially by authority figures such as police officers and security.
It’s no secret. Although the fact of its existence is denied by those practicing the racial based actions.
The following video shows how it works, and captures the exact moment a person of color is treated differently for the same offense as a white person.
A black woman is at a health care town hall and is asked to show a Rosa Parks poster by a reporter. A white man walks over to her and tears up the poster. The woman responds with anger and shock and the security men escort her out. Meanwhile, how do you think whites are treated? It presents an interesting problem.
So, why treat whites with kid gloves while you quickly escort a black woman out when the offense is the same? And, aren’t we really talking about a free speech issue here? Yes, of course we are… But, skin color affects the results.
In the end, it’s clearly eliminationism – treating one group as inferior to another.
And, that IS truly Un-American.
Meanwhile, people are carrying guns to Obama events. And, these are the ones doing it in the open. How many do you think are showing up with concealed weapons? If a Liberal showed up at a Bush event strapping a handgun to his thigh, the outcry would have been deafening. That person would be in jail.
But, the extremist right has got everyone so afraid of everything that no one wants to do anything.
We’ve become a country ruled by the mob and the threat of violence.Read More