Before-Digital and Post-Digital Ages

I’m fairly certain that at some point in the future, the dividing line between ages will be BD and PD- much like the dividing line we use for BC or AD (Before Christ or After Death was what I learned in school – which was wrong but sticks in my mind anyway). So yes, we … Continue reading “Before-Digital and Post-Digital Ages”

I’m fairly certain that at some point in the future, the dividing line between ages will be BD and PD- much like the dividing line we use for BC or AD (Before Christ or After Death was what I learned in school – which was wrong but sticks in my mind anyway). So yes, we will have the years where not much is known – the years when there was no digital photographic or audio recording technology and the years where everything was captured. A good example of that rose to my attention last night – in the 1960s the teleplay Man of LaMancha aired on TV. There are no recordings of it because at the time there were not video recorders (which were linear but close enough to the digital tech age that much of what was captured on linear data devices has been translated to digital and saved). There is a gray area where this linear tech exists – roughly from 1960-1990 – when things like records, audio tapes, video tapes, photographs, and even hand written or typewriter written documents were still the norm but were transferrred to digital technology with the aid of scanners, digital recorders, DAT, etc. Not all of these captured moments have been digitized, but enough that there will always be a clear picture of the transition from non-digital society to digital society. By and large, we can say that the generation that grew up from 1960-1990, my generation, Gen-X, was the last non-digital generation and the first digital generation. The way of life that existed during our childhood and adolescence will never be foggy, like that of the generations that came before us, but it will never be crystal clear like those who follow. I’ve already noticed that Hollywood is mining this treasure trove of light mystique and that trend will only continue.

It’s funny to think of how difficult these changes have been – we are still going through them. Our world is as different from the world of 1989 as the world of 1989 was from the world of 1589. Yes, we’ve gone through 300 years of change in just 30 years. The age of flight was nothing as compared to the age of digitalization. A man from 1589 could have been normalized to the world of 1989 – yes, there were planes but Davinci had proposed flight and French balloonists were flying close to his time of 1589. A car might have been shocking, but ultimately it is a carriage run by a combination of mechanical processes that could be easily understood with explanation – even in 1589. But a digital camera? A cell phone? The internet? A smart phone with a camera, a virtual assistant, the internet, phone capability, digital music, and Google Earth – try explaining that to someone alive today – let alone to someone from 300 years ago. It would be a stretch to explain that to an adult from 1959. But, you probably could explain it to someone who came of age in the 1970s or 1980s – at any time.

I feel fortunate to have been alive at this time. To have borne witness to this change of epochs. To be clear, I think my generation got the worst of both worlds – we got the shaft because we will not get the full benefits of the mature technology that will emerge in 10-20 years and we did not get the 300 year security that our parents were born into. The magnitude of this shift won’t be clear for a long time – at present – most people aren’t aware of it at all.

The Thoughts and Questions That Plague My Mind

Is this the best that we can do?

That’s the first one. It’s the most depressing one. Humanity has failed. Not only is it not the best we can do, it’s not even in the top 90% of what we can do. We have failed on so many levels that it is impossible to list them all. Here are just a few with no statistics because I’m sure the statistics would be even worse.
Child Starvation
People with no access to healthcare
Suicide
Hate crimes
Addiction in all of it’s forms
Environmental degradation
Mass Extinction
Homelessness (while speculation homes sit empty)
I could go on…and on…and on…and on. We have failed. This human civilization is a complete and total failure. We have failed each other and we have failed ourselves in the process.

So that’s the first question that plagues my mind. And it brings me to the next question which is more personal “Is this the best I can do?” and the answer to that is no too. My ego wants to give me all the excuses in the world – starting with blaming this human culture I am forced to live in. Ultimately, I want to do more, but I fail. I’m like the old woman with $1 who donates half of it to charity. It’s 50% of what she has and it doesn’t make a difference. 100% of what she has wouldn’t make a difference. I’m like that – unless she can do something to get a much larger sum of money – her charity won’t matter a bit – and neither will mine. I have to scramble, duck, and roll and focus my energy non-stop in order to take care of my family and keep myself in a position to do so. And that excuse sounds pretty good – but the truth is I am not doing the best I can do and I don’t know exactly why that is.

Love is the answer. I’m pretty sure that’s true. However, I’m so filled with anger and rage at the injustices of the world that it is sometimes impossible to give a stranger so much as a smile. Especially if I’ve just read about a child being separated from their parents and the stranger is driving a $50,000 truck with a Make America Great Again sticker on it. Man, those awful baby boomers – they’ve made the world a thousand times worse than it was before them. All the wars in history before them didn’t do as much damage to the planet as they have done in their lifetimes with their greed and hypocrisy. And they’ve tightened the chains around those who followed and reduced the chances for us to achieve any sort of real meaningful freedom besides death.

I’ll tell you what hell would be – to die and wake up surrounded by all the baby boomers. It’s hell on earth and it would be the worst sort of eternal hell. I’ve never been scared of death, but that thought makes me want to cling onto dear life with a death-grip. The soldier-hippie boomers of the 60s, the disco boomers of the 70s, the awful yuppie boomers of the 80s,the disgusting bootstrap-upper management boomers of the 90s, the foul early retirement boomers of the 2000s, and the RV-downsized-still-most-selfish-generation-but-now-need-to-be-taken-care-of boomers of the current decade. God, I want to puke. So, yeah, love may be the answer but I can’t love them because I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome.

What the kids today need to do is have a Lord of the Flies party where take out everyone who is already an adult or who thinks like an adult in the world today and then re-create society. Lord of the Flies would be messy and I don’t want to be killed by gangs of tweens, but for them it would be a better solution.

I wish I could tell you I have an ideology that would make things better – but I don’t. All of the ideologies are bullshit. The ideologues are assholes. And of course, money is the problem – I’ve been to Sardis where the first money was produced and while it was a beautiful ruin – I’ve never been somewhere that so completely emanated evil – although the Pentagon has the same sort of vibe and when I’ve visited concentration camps – those have a similar aura. Do you want to understand money? I wanted to. It’s part of what led me to Sardis in the first place. Money makes slavery possible. Without money, slavery is impossible. People like my sister – who work hard and study and stay on course and spend their lives working working working (but rarely at what they are passionate about) talk about working hard for a purpose – that purpose is ‘buying their freedom’. They want to be free someday – which tells you the truth – they are not free. And if you are not free you are either a prisoner or a slave.

I am a slave to money. I admit it. I do what money needs me to do. I do what money tells me to do. Sometimes it is fun – usually, I feel like a prisoner forced to labor.

The Indignity of Being Forced to Tell Lies

If there is one thing I have always resented about the culture I live in, it is the indignity of being forced to tell lies. But wait, no one forces you to lie…no, but try telling everyone the truth for a few days and see how far it gets you. We lie about who we are, what we like, how we feel about our jobs, how we feel about our neighbors or relatives or coworkers and more. It’s no wonder that we’ve put the biggest liar in charge.

Sometimes it feels damn good to tell someone “I just don’t like you” – and it’s good for that person too because then they know and they have to deal with the fact you don’t like them. But most of us can’t do that for one reason or another. Mostly though, we lie for money. To make the sale, get the job, keep the job, build the relationship, or get the job done.

The truth will set you free…is what they say. But the truth really leaves you unemployed, friendless, alone, and probably injured or dead. And if it is an inconvenient truth you might end up worse than that.

So swallow that dignity and keep on lying America.

2017 World Happiness Survey – Thoughts on Happiness

There are a lot of very short news stories about the Global Happiness Survey – most of them read something like “Norway is the happiest country in the world” – and then they talk about the top ten countries and the places and the place of the USA and the bottom two or three countries and maybe how countries shifted from the last survey. When you read the actual report, there is a lot more to it. Here is the link to the full report: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdsn-whr2017/HR17_3-20-17.pdf

On page 122 of the report (yes, it is nearly 200 hundred pages long) what I consider to be the most revealing chapter begins – it is titled “The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery” – it begins with this:

This chapter is directed at policy-makers of all kinds—both in government and in NGOs. We assume, like Thomas Jefferson, that “the care of human life and happiness … is the only legitimate object of good government.”1 And we assume that NGOs would have similar objectives. In other words, all policy-makers want to create the conditions for the greatest possible happiness in the population and, especially, the least possible misery.

Which sounds great but which is obviously not true. Policy makers in 2017 want money and power for their financial backers. The problems with the world are well known and easily solved – if that were what those in control wanted to do. They do not. And to prove that point the last paragraph of the chapter:

To conclude, within any country, mental health explains more of the variance of happiness in Western countries than income does. In Indonesia mental illness also matters, but less than income. Nowhere is physical illness a bigger source of misery than mental illness. Equally, if we go back to childhood, the key factors for the future adult are the mental health of the mother and the social ambiance of primary and secondary school. The implications for policy are momentous.

If we wanted to have a better world filled with happier people, we would be focused on taking care of mental health, ensuring that mothers (and fathers) had the support they need to be good parents, and that schools were creating the type of atmosphere which brings about psychologically healthy and confident individuals – instead of factories that create workers filled with fear, anxiety, and depression. Simple. Business does not create happiness, nor does war/defense, nor do jobs, nor do any of the other things we spend trillions of dollars on. Security in childhood, healthcare, and education. That’s it.

This report is a treasure trove of information about creating a happier planet like this:

The effect from the increase in the numbers of people having someone to count on in times of trouble is by itself equal to the happiness effects from the 16-fold increase in average per capita annual incomes required to shift the three poorest countries up to the world average (from about $600 to about $10,000).

From my point of view – this fact alone shows why the two working parents, dog-eat-dog, get out when you are 18, take care of yourself, ‘sorry, I can’t help you’ society of capitalism in the USA is leading to unhappiness, stress, anxiety, overeating, alcoholism, and drug abuse/overdose. We can’t count on each other here. People give lip service to being there for their families, but in my experience (in my awful family) when it comes time to put their actions where their mouth is, Americans turn selfish. My wife’s family in Morocco mean it when they say you can stay as long as you want or need to, they mean it when they tell you that their home is your home, they are there for you in whatever capacity they can be – without excuses. They are not rich – they work hard to survive – but I know for certain that they would never turn away a dear friend or family member even if it meant they had to work harder. When I think of them in comparison with myself or my family, I feel ashamed – and I should. They are poor and they suffer in their poverty, but they are happier than most Americans I’ve met.

And…one last quote just to drive home a point

Overall, the chapter concludes that falling American happiness is due primarily to social rather than to economic causes.

Satan Deserves An Oscar for his role in Beauty and the Beast

2017 is a strange world for this kid who was raised in the hippie christian 1970s and bizarro mega church 1980s. I never thought I would see a movie where Satan played the male romantic lead without having to even change his appearance. But there it is, Satan, Baphomet, the horned beast with goat hooves – sweeping the village beauty off of her feet. Now, look, all that christian mythology isn’t my thing. I’m a Buddhist and not the kind that prays to Benihana – but this is pretty trippy. America is a bizarre place where poor people elect a ‘populist’ who has a gilded toilet seat (and who may actually have sold his soul to the devil (Putin)) or might actually be the devil himself – and the highest grossing movie of the year is about Satan – the poor misunderstood sweetheart that will lock you in a cage but then sweep you off your feet. All you have to do is love Satan and then you can have your own Mar el Lago Resort and a new Ivanka Trump line of clothing.

All that being said – it was a great movie. I enjoyed it. And as far as Satan goes, good for him for finally getting the role he always wanted – the poor, misunderstood kid who did terrible things but only because of his awful father – not because he was bad. And, he looked handsome even with his horns and goat hooves. My daughter asked the logical question “How come he never wears shoes?” My first answer was that he didn’t have a cobbler, but hey, it’s a magic castle and someone is making those huge jackets he is wearing after the first act – so I didn’t really have an answer except – Hooves are harder than shoes.

So, that’s that. Nice work Satan. You deserve the Oscar. Emma Watson too.

Fear and Hesitation

At the moment – this moment – as I look at my daughter, I feel a moment of fear and hesitation about all that I am planning for us. an older man said to me recently something like “When you have children, especially small children, it’s your job to stay in one place and provide a stable and safe environment for them.” He’s right. I know he is right – except I also know that it is just not that simple. Safety is not something we can be sure of – especially in the United States right now at this very strange point in 2017. I don’t know when or where the next school shooting will be, but the odds are very much stacked towards it happening in the United States and a bunch of innocent children being killed. As I think about that my eyes tear up as I remember Newtown and all the other tragedies and my guts wrench as I think about the American society of hatred where guns are more populous than people. So if I want to provide safety for my daughter than it makes sense to not live in the United States or North America for that matter. Stability is another thing – is there stability in a society that doesn’t know whether there is a government to care for us, one that we can trust – or one that is chipping away at our freedoms and turning us into slaves – and that can turn on us at any moment and lock us up, arrest us, or change the rules without notice. Yes, children need stability, but the only stability they really need is the stability of love, caring, respect, and the constancy of parents and other adults around them who love them, nurture them, and help them to grow into the best possible version of themselves. It’s hard to provide that when both parents are slogging away at stressful jobs 40+ hours a week and then tuning into the television and internet (at best) or drugs and alcohol (at worst). That is what I see when I look at the radioactive American Nuclear Family…and all it leads to is despair and instability in the personality of the child. As for staying in one place – I suppose that would be a good idea if you were in a place where you could provide stability and safety to your child – but I am not. I’d like to find that place, but what I can provide is being a person that is in one place – psychologically. My child is precious – as every child should be to her or his parents. I make no decisions without considering the effect on her. My moment of fear and hesitation has passed, but there will be more.