Posts Tagged ‘discontent’

Time for Covidic Database

May 5, 2020

Just looking around, I notice we’re in an information age.

Everywhere you look there’s info.

CovidGraf

The info gets stored and horded and whored in e-bundles to be harvested by humans and their bot-slaves. Then the info becomes digitally transformed into  a magic thing called data.

Now everywhere you go online, or off, there’s  a data trail that is tucked away somewhere in vast e-storage bins. Those gigabytes reside interminably in quiet isolation, until the gigs and megs are retrieved  by a dutifully wonkish  techie or faceless bot for various purposes:

Some purposes good, some bad. It’s all out there somewhere.

The system wants to serve you; the system wants to screw you. Its two sides of a digital coin or crypto coin or a capitalist dream or a socialist nightmare. Maybe its your best friend and maybe its your worst enemy.

We’ve learned that the powers-that-be open some mystical flood gates of that Big River of Idolic Desire. The powers  dangle desirable stuff and images of desirable people in front of your eyes so you’ll buy stuff you think you need to be like them, and by so doing you make yourself contented while  keeping the corporate ogres fat n happy as you become fat n happy like them.

Now many of us have begun to to discern that the data mining environment that we’ve surrounded ourselves with is corruptive.

Then Whammo!

Suddenly we have a worldwide disease that corners us into making judgements about what we must or should do to collectively  strike the disease down, or permit it to continue running rampant across our nation and the world.

Some data you know about; you can figure out what the social media operators are doing behind the scenes; other data is hidden. They say data is being gathered about you all the time in everything you do, and it is controversial because you don’t even know what it is that the wizards of data are putting together right now as we speak about you and yours and your habits and your travels and your social interactions and your blah blah blah and who cares about your stuff anyway. Maybe your mother cares about your stuff, or your boss or your partner or Boomchokka Analytica.

I don’t care about your data, although I am writing about it now in a matter-of-fact way because it does constitute a chunk of megabytes somewhere on that mega database in the sky or wherever the hell it is. You may get a call about it some time from Big Brother, although I doubt that because he likes to keep a low profile.

But I regress. As I was sayin’. . .everywhere you look, data this and data that. Database this and database that. Who cares?

Well now we’ve just found out that everybody needs to know about your stuff because of the damned coronavirus.

I mean, they don’t actually need to know about all your data stuff just . . .

whether you test positive for the COVID-19.

It’s just that simple, but now it happens to be a matter of life and death, not just a question of how much money some corporate entity can make off you.

We need to put together a database, you see, about the coronavirus so the professional health people and the doctors and the epidemiologists and the patholgists and the DHHS can make informed decisions about the best way to drive this damned disease back into the ground, instead of it floating around in droplets and vapors amongst the shoppers and the meat-cutters and the hair stylists and the movie ticket-takers and whoever else is trying to keep you satisfied while themselves  making a living in a public place in this here United States of America.

And furthermore, as it turns out now in this life and death situation of Covidic ruin, that mega database in the sky needs to get some real facts about how many deceased have actually met their demise because of Covid—not because of some other disease.

I just hope that the data-geeks can pull all this stuff together in a useful way without generating a hornet’s nest of privacy doowop flipflops.

We need to get some of these statistics straightened out so that discontented folks with gun-totin’ public tantrums can’t get out there in the public square and confuse uninformed citizens about how many folks actually died of  Covid and how many died of some other causes.

Just the facts—that’s what we need now. Read ‘em and weep.

Therefore we could theoretically make good use a Covid-infection database, so statisticians can project accurately and responsibly about how many people will likely catch the disease in the days and months ahead. . .

and to what extent public and commercial spaces ought to be opened up and made available again for common use so we can move  reasonably, safely beyond the socially-distanced construct under which we presently strain.

You see, just now when we are, as a human race, aspiring to survive and prosper on this planet in spite of the Covid destruction, we now hear reports of protests bustin’ out in the town squares and on the net, exerting pressure on whoever’s in charge to renew the openings and operation of this, that, or the other business, because so-and-so is fed up with the lockdown and Billy Jo is tired of the social distancing and Peggy Sue wants to get her hair done and Arnold wants to go work out in the gym and blah blah blah and mainly . . .

People want to get back to work.

We can understand that.

But We find ourselves in a nationwide conundrum because so many folk are getting  stir-crazy and they wanna push the envelope while others are goody-to-shoes politically correct and wanna play by the rules when we don’t have any rules yet about whether the covid numbers are political hype to impose political control on the clueless masses, or. . .

prudent practice for the defeating of Covid. . .

whichever the case may be.

But really, this whole big baileywick comes down to answering this very important question:

Who has the Covid-19 inside of them? and

Who has not?

So it makes sense (does it not?) to test everybody.

A testing campaign on a national scale and beyond, on a world scale, would not only provide a workable database for informed decision-making by medical doctors and pandemic-preventers but also

such a project as this would generate a whole lot of new employment opportunities for a lot of people. . . especially

Good training for new trainees in the profession of public health. They may be battling this disease for a long time. . . long after I’m dead and gone after 68 years of watching this amazing world cruise by.

Public health becomes more and more of a problem to-be-solved, as covid creeps through the mire of our excessive abuses and misuses.

A reliable Covid database would become an expanding industry during this time of suddenly massive unemployment.

It would require lots of people to be hired to gather information about who got infected and who did not. . . who died of the covid disease and who died of some other dysfunction.

We need to know.

So Get tested soon.

It’s your patriotic duty.

It’s that simple: get tested for Covid. Then we can get on with our lives.

Glass half-Full

The Underground

March 19, 2020

Half a century before the Russians mustered enough rebellion to  depose the Czar, a deep current of discontent had begun oozing up from somewhere deep down in those thawing Russian steppes.

Since that era, we have come to call what that discontent represents: The Underground.

Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevksy caught and early wind of it. In his 1864 novel, Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky identified and fictionalized an uncomfortable alienation that (he noticed) was mounting up among certain attentive and sensitive citizens of that restive country.

This alienation has, since then, become a characteristic of modern life.

In our day and time, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson points out that Dostoevsky and other writers (most notably Friedrich Nietzsche) detected this early alienation and wrote extensively about it.

There was, you see,  a deep, dark void in the European soul.

It was there. . . deep down in there, somewhere in the metamorphizing life of the 1800’s . . .  a sense that something was missing . . . something important, something—it must be something— essential.

Where some spiritual or soulful entity had, through many ages, carried European civilization along a certain path of cultural development, now there was nothing.

“Nihilism” is a word that was brought in to identify that void.

In our day and time, Jordan Peterson explains the development of nihilism—how it is related to the lapse  the Church, which had formerly evolved as a religious matrix around which the framework of European civilization and culture had manifested across almost two millennia of time.

Dr. Peterson attributes the identifying of this nihilism primarily to those two 19th-century writers, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. In his lectures, Dr. Peterson often mentions that these two prescient thinkers predicted—or one could almost say “prophecied”—the horrible carnage of our 20th-century wars.  Our two modernized hyper-mechanized destructive wars broke out as modern men desperately strove—through futile attempts at communist and fascist totalitarianism—to establish a meaningful State, or Society.

Instead of—let’s just say— the Church. Comprenez-vous?

Denizens of “the Underground” are those misplaced souls who have searched elsewhere—apart from the Society or Culture at large—for their own meaning or identity.  Even further than that, they will likely work collectively with other fellow travelers, striving for some collective opus that enables us—if not now, in the future— to live and thrive together.

When I was a young man, I composed a song about some of these deep urges toward meaning and liberty.

Underground Railroad Rides Again

I have empathy for the Undergrounders of this world, although some of them have, from time to time, carried their discontents too far, beyond the rightful constraints of decently civilized life. The Weather Underground of the 1960’s, for instance,  crossed that line of acceptable protest when they began making home-bombs,  one of which enabled one Undergrounder to blow up himself and his whole dam NYC apartment building, in spring of 1970.

But hey! Life goes on, in spite of all the abuse and injustices people pile on one another. In spite of all our myriad societal dysfunctions. The world persists in its predictable revolutions, whether you approve the changes or not.  Nations change. Seasons come and go. Our winters of discontent always as mellow out as . . .

a new wind, a fair breeze, and this year’s equinox a day early!

Now in 2020 A.D., about midday on this first spring day, 19  March, I was strolling along our local greenway, here in our little town of the Blue Ridge, observing obligatory social distancing protocols mandated by the COVID-19. When my walk began, the weather was dreary, misty and chilly. But as I neared the turnaround point of my 3-mile path, the sun was peeping out from behind the clouds, the air turned amazingly warm and dry, and suddenly! spring has sprung!

‘T’was then I encountered an Underground of different sort:

Molehills

This springtime sprung-up version of the Underground has been popping up with alarming regularity for a very long time. . . far longer than we homo sapiens have been struggling to find meaningful identity in our civilizations.

As I beheld these silly-pilly little dirt mounds, I disclosed the discovery to myself . . .  (as they say on the video spy dramas) what we have here is mole!

King of Soul

Could be a problem

March 1, 2019

Our nation slides toward oblivion in unredeemable debt.

But who cares? It’s only money.

The national debt will never be repaid. We all know it, but nobody talks about it because we’re lost and we’ve never been here before.

We’ve never been at a juncture in history where money doesn’t matter.

In ages past, money mattered, but it doesn’t any more.

If you’re one of the inequality lackeys you’ve got a meal-ticket on a card, or so I’m told.

If you’re one of the equality beneficiaries you’ve got an expense account on a chip in your billfold.

The real movers and shakers are all just electrons streaming around in netspace, racking up virtual debits and credits in a webbish world that strains to retain some ideal standard that hasn’t really existed since grampa died and gramma went to the nursing home.

We pretend that the national debt matters while our brave new worldview slips into blahblah debit card oblivia, along a slow slide of credita magnifica.

But we’re in a long, sluggish slide.

The leftish cadres analyze and strategize to death our slow slog into postcapitalist egality mediocrity.

Meanwhile back at the suburban ranch conservatives dream of pie-in-the-sky return to days gone by in which every man or woman set a course toward their own comfort and prosperity. Good luck with that.

All along the watchtower, our planet bleeds, while civilization recedes.

Our manifest destiny bleeds out as welfare mediocrity. We’re all on welfare, just haven’t admitted it yet.  We’re all leaning on the largesse of a depleting State. When someone trips the alarm we’ll be racing to the exits.

Common sense poses now as tweets, while common decency slowly but surely retreats.

Maybe it’s always been this way, but never before on such electronified magnitude as we have now.

Digiboard

BroknColm

What began in human history as sword-swinging  contention stealthily slashes through our sedated society as a hi-tek tirade of weaponized malcontent.

The imminent ideology showdown will not likely roll in as some entertaining video event. Rather, it may be a bloody mess, a severe letdown, or, as we used to say in the old country, a pain in the ass.

Might be a good time to get saved.

Turn or burn.   Travelers’ Rest.

Smoke

Rigged Whirlwind

November 29, 2016

PastFuture

God bless the President of the United States.

God bless the President-elect of the United States.

Nevertheless, our President-elect hath brought down upon himself, and upon his budding administration, a whirlwind of contention about the legitimacy of the very election that puts him in charge of things.

Now Jill Stein, the Green Party’s defeated nominee, is demanding recounts in some battleground states. Some Democrats are also rattling their cages with similar demands for recounting. Furthermore, some irate leftists are actively attempting to convince Electoral College delegates to violate the electoral mandate of their respective state delegations, by voting against the Republican Presidential nominee.

The overall effect is casting, in some quarters, a pall of doubt, and an implication of illegitimacy over our 2-centuries old Constitutionally-established electoral process.

Who is responsible for this dubious development?

Donald Trump.

He was the candidate who publicly proclaimed that our election system was “rigged.”

His accusation, loudly stated months before the election, was a desperate attempt to capture the support of disgruntled voters in flyover country who have felt, for many years, deep down in their bones, distrust for our Democratic-Republican system of government. These so-called rust-belt-dwelling, middle-aged, middle-class, honky-white denizens of tea-party insurrection have felt, for the last eight years or more, that somehow the whole damn elite-controlled, media-manipulated, inside-the-beltway, special-interests-driven .gov-slouching Establishment is stacked against them.

But on Nov. 9, a funny thing happened on the way to the Electoral College. President Trump’s strategy of sowing seeds of doubt–about the fairness of the System–it worked. Instead of getting him a recount, it got him a victory!

Who’d’ve thunk it? Probably the Donald himself. One thing’s for sure. He’s smarter than the average bear, and his timing must be damnear perfect.  He played against the odds, like challenging the dealer in an Atlantic City casino. And guess what? He won.

Nevertheless, as the old Book–and sometimes the bookie–says, you sow to the wind, hey, you reap the whirlwind.

We Americans now fined ourselves feeling a whirlwind of discontent that ariseth from the other direction, like the hurricane after the eye has passed. This strange bellowing stirreth up electoral troubles anew, when we thought the whole damn thing had blown over.

Hence, post-election, leftist wolves now Occupy those Boston tea-party rumors of discontent; they howl beneath a full moon of coveted anarchy–contending that  the system is rigged. It is rigged by our out-of-fashion Constitutional electoral process, and by election improprieties in several key states, and also by the fact that Sec. Clinton has reportedly gathered more popular votes.

“Rigged!” so they say. Who came up with that allegation?

President Trump.

You reap what you sow.

Glass half-Full

Zeitgeists and the King of Soul

October 21, 2014

People talk about “the zeitgeist” of an historical period as if it were one spirit.  But in reality, the events of any particular epoch reflect several spiritual compulsions or visions that hover amongst the human hearts and minds of that age.

With that in mind, I have begun writing a new novel, my fourth, which is named King of Soul. The story will examine the teen years and coming-of-age of a young man,Donnie, who is growing up in the South  during the 1960s. The novel is only mildly autobiographical.

Donnie’s personal development is of course shaped by the familial, political, philosophical, economic and spiritual condition of that era. Within these influences, I Identify four zeitgeists that are especially potent during the turbulent 1960s. They are what might be called “spirits of the age”, or what Gordon Lightfoot called the “visions of their days.” But I like to think of these historical forces, each one, as collective “Souls. ”  For the decade in which I was a teenager, they are:

~Soul of Bounty

~Soul of Discontent

~Soul of Escape

~Soul of Anarchy

So that you can better understand my “Souls” concept, here are some earlier “Souls” that were dominant in former ages of the American Experience:

Soul of Exploration, Soul of Liberty, Soul of Slavery, Soul of Industry, Soul of Reform, Soul of Progress, Soul of Labor, Soul of Consumption, Soul of Entertainment.

As the story develops in my novel, King of Soul, the reader will detect in Donnie’s experience:

~The Soul of Bounty, which thrives on security and wellness. It favors the individual, rather than a collective, although its community aspect is based on abundance: plenty for everybody. The Soul of Bounty values Family, Faith, and Work for Gain. Religion is beneficial. Heaven is a good ending. Hierarchy and authority contribute to Law & Order, sometimes at the expense of equality. Self-discipline and smart work are admirable.

It is a conservative attitude. Leave well-enough alone. Soul of Bounty manifestations for the 1960s may be: Republicans, the “Establishment”, the “Powers that Be, Young Americans for Freedom. On its fringe are the John Birchers and the Ayn Rand group. Prominent movers in the Soul of Bounty during that time were: Nixon, Buckley, Reagan, Mayor Daley, Gov.Rhodes of Ohio, most suburbanites.

~The Soul of Discontent, which struggles toward justice and rightness. The collective will is higher than the individual; society is based on ideology, not religion. Activists within the Soul of Discontent are forever striving toward progress. Utopia is a real possibility.The Marxian version includes a dictatorship of the proletariat. Equality of all will be achieved  at the expense of Order. These people are purposeful,  existential in their motivation. Disruption of the established order is necessary for societal correction to be imposed. Organizations of the period include: Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students for Democratic Society (SDS), Free Speech Movement and the generally widespread Antiwar movement. Leaders of the 1960s manifestation include, among many others: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Malcom X,  Mario Savio, Tom Hayden, Joan Baez, the Berrigans, Daniel Ellsberg, Betty Friedan. The Soul of Discontent was most clearly expressed in: Civil Rights movement, Feminism, Berkeley, Chicago protests at 1968 Democratic convention, lethal uprisings at Kent State and Jackson State, student movements at San Francisco State U, Yale, Columbia, and eventually the Democratic party and 4th estate of 1970s-200. . .s

~Soul of Escape, which craves pleasure, ecstasy and distraction.  Expressions of this Soul are both collective and individual. Community is hoped for to afford leisure, pleasure, celebration, art and expression.  Minimal work is tolerated for the sake of these fulfillments. Utopia is cool, and Love-in is even better Serendipity is prized, at the expense of structure. Enjoy. In the ’60s, these people were known as hippies, who followed in footsteps of their 1950s predecessors, the Beats. You know who they are, even if you were not one of them for awhile, because you read about them in Time and Life: Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, most rock musicians, but most notably Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead. They sought a trippy kind of stoned-out degenerative sensuality that occasionally masqueraded as spirituality. Summer of Love in ’67 and Woodstock in ’69 were their high points.

~Soul of Anarchy, which struggles to tear down the old order so that a new something can arise. Destruction is not only necessary, but cool and glorified. These people were the epitome of  Shiva Rage: Panthers. Weathermen, Yippies on a bad day. The catch-all was “Revolutionary.” John Lennon sang about them but only skirted along their fringes. “. . .but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.” (They didn’t make it.) Their flash in the pan came late, in ’69 and the ’70s. Heroes were Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael after he got tired of moderation, Rudd/Dohrn/Ayers. They were violent revolutionaries who might have done much more damage if the Establishment, personified by Richard Nixon, had not decided to wind the Vietnam War down and follow through with some serious programs to fulfill Johnson’s Great Society before going down in a blaze of humiliating presidential glory.

In a turbid decade called “the ’60s”, my young protagonist Donnie attends middle school and high school, enters college in 1969, avoids the draft, checks out a few antiwar happenings and tries to make sense of it all, in a nation being torn apart by the interference patterns generated when these four (Bounty, Discontent, Escape, Anarchy) encountered each other. That’s the scenario of King of Soul.

I should have it ready for you to read in a year or three.

King of Soul

Balancing Contentment and Discontent

March 2, 2014

Paul of Tarsus, a founder of what has come to be called Christianity, spent most of his life promoting–not  himself–but  the work of another person, Jesus Christ. In so doing, Paul built a foundation of faith upon the redemptive cornerstone that Jesus had laid at Calvary. That foundation has been expanded and strengthened over the last two thousand years, and is now known as Christianity.

How did this one man, Paul, make, by his life’s work, such a lasting impact on the whole world? For starters, he traveled all over the eastern Mediterranean teaching and expounding one very important message, which eventually became known as  the Gospel. While he was doing all that, he endured, and survived, a myriad of dangerous situations. Paul was an adventurer who got into trouble just about everywhere he went, went through life constantly misunderstood and misinterperted, came perilously close to death on several occasions, suffered through shipwrecks, snakebites and being the object of riotous mobs.

He was a nonviolent revolutionary, whose life mission was to enable  the world to be delivered  from doing bad shit.

And yet, in the midst of all that Paul said and did to establish the work of Christ in this world, do you think he was a happy man? Did he go into eternity with a satisfaction that he had done the best he could to live what he believed?

In a letter to his friends in Philipi, Paul wrote:

. . . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

I heard a pastor speak about this morning. His sermon, using Paul as the example, was all about contentment and discontent. There is a tension, you know, between these two–being content or being discontent. It was a very good teaching about learning to be content in this life. Of course, we all want to learn this principle, don’t we? as Paul did, or we will spend our life being miserable.

And who the hell wants to be miserable? Not me. So yes, I want to learn that lesson that Paul learned, and wrote about–that lesson that was passed down through a couple of centuries and was renewed in my hearing this morning when Mickey expounded on it.

I want to be content in this life. I mean, who doesn’t?

So there I was sitting in church this morning hearing encouragement through the mouth of a contemporary preacher about the wisdom that Paul had recorded in a letter two centuries ago. It was encouragement to learn more about finding contentment. That’s good advice.

On the other hand, Karl Marx taught that religion was the opiate of the people. If I am accepting, through my faith in Christ, contentment,  I am copping out? Should I, instead of cultivating contentment, allow my periodic discontent about the injustice and cruelty of this world propel  me to burn zealously in this life as an activist to stop injustice and end violence and prevent the cruel exploitation of helpless people and eliminate the income inequality gap? So I’m thinking about this tension between desiring contentment, and allowing discontent to become a productive motivator to make life somehow better. Paul said he had learned to be content, and yet he was not content to sit on his duff and watch tv or surf the net (just kidding), but rather he allowed a little personal discontent about the sorry state of this world to motivate himself to go into the world and try to change it for the better.

Meanwhile, while I was listening to Mickey’s lesson about Paul’s contentment, I remembered the subject of the last article that I had been reading this morning before I closed the laptop and drove to church. It’s called  “The Winter of our Discontent.” You may want to check it out if your are interested in economics–real economics, not this hyped-up QE stuff that the Fed has been dishing out since 1987.

Of course, the article by Eric Parnell that I just linked above for you doesn’t really have much to do with Paul of Tarsus or learning to be content. But what’s curious to me is that the spiritual lesson and the economics article, both of which I encountered this Sunday morning, were both dealing with the tension between contentment and “discontent.”

And that got my attention. This is the kind of incidental interlude that contributes greatly to my cognitively dissonant celebration of life!  I want you to know that I can be content about what the Lord has given me to do in this life, while still appreciating the motivational value of a little discontent and disruption every now and then.

Now go; be well and prosper, but don’t get too comfortable with our success.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, to publish soon