Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

    Today is Inauguration Day. Shortly after noon, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I have not missed a presidential inauguration since 1984, but there were few I was genuinely excited to see. Trump's inauguration is one, if for no other reason than curiosity over what could possibly cone next.
      I will be completely honest here. I voted for Trump, but I was motivated more to vote against Hillary Clinton than to support the Make America Great Again bandwagon. Clinton looked like a shoo in since she had practically everything going for her. There was even a time there when I considered voting for Gary Johnson. Trump was going to win South Carolina anyway and my views have been siding more towards the libertarian side for years now. But John son made a few embarrassing blunders, so I opted for Trump.
      I a glad I did. Anyone who knows me is aware of my glib, sarcastic demeanor when commenting on political and cultural events. It makes sense to them I would be amused a realty television star with no experience in elected office or in the military would be elected president, Especially since trump pretty much picked up politics as a hobby within the last eight years or so. Then he created a populist movement to be lead by a billionaire from New York City. If one is prone to pointing out the nihilistic aspects of American public life you cannot help bu have your sensibilities tickled by the election of Trump.
   But as the wisest man who ever lived wrote, there is nothing new under the sun, and neither is Trump. There really is not that much different fro Trump hosting The Apprentice while playing around with the D-list of celebrity than Ronald Reagan insisting Gonzo make it to bed on time. Even if you are a Never Trump who frets over his past support for liberal causes, remember Reagan was once a Democrat who ardently supported FDR. History may well repeat itself. I certainly hope it does.
       I am looking forward to seeing how the country changes under trump's leadership. For one thing, I assume he actually will lead. Eight years of Barack Obama's absentee presidency diminished the United States at home and abroad. Race relations are worse than they have been in decades. Allies were stabbed in the back repeatedly. Cultural rot exists everywhere Obama promised hope and change. He leaves us with only one hope—Trump—and a legacy of change for the worse.    

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When You Tell the Barber "Short, Not Spiked" and He Hears "Short 'n Spiked."

      Bear witness to the results of inadequate enunciation and not facing the mirror while you are getting a haircut. I began to fret when the whole deal was taking just a little too long. The pile of hair on the floor looked as though the barber shaved a yeti.
       It does not look too bad, but it is far shorter than I normally like.  on the plus side, I probably will not need another haircut until the summer.  So there is that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Three Audiences for Contemporary Journalism

       I have been on a kick lately about the state of journalism. My interest has much to do with the current discussion about fake news, which I covered here., but has even more to do with sensory overload after a particularly brutal election season. The problem is the line between fact and opinion has not only been blurred to practically be non-existent, but news outlets are utilizing the indistinct to compete for attention in a hypermedia environment.
       The three groups are:
1. Social Conservatives
     This audience prioritizes one or more social issues. They are usually motivated by religious concerns, which most often compels them to take a black and white, us versus them worldview. Abortion is murder, guns are necessary because we may have to overthrow the government some day, and all Muslims are terrorists are the sort of resonating ideas with this audience.
2. The Post-Modern Relativists
       This is the audience of those too far too the left for Democrats. They went for Bernie Sanders because Hillary Clinton was a Republican as far as they were concerned. This audience is the uninformed young activists, celebrities with their causes, and the equality for all crowd that demonizes Christianity, corporations and white men.
3. The Business Class
       This is the oddest audience because it can lean to the right or left, but generally suffers an uneasy alliance with either the Social Conservatives or the Post-Modern Relativists. The Business Class cares for its economic interests and is often more willing to comprise on social issues to protect economic interests.
       It presumably goes without saying the first two groups despise one another while Social Conservatives and Post-Modern Relativists often feel betrayed when the business Class chooses economics over idealism on a particular issue. So how do you get these three groups to accept facts over thee deeply held viewpoints? You do not, and that is a huge problem that is only going to get worse in the era of blogs and social media. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Save the Planet

       I will rarely, if ever, blog directly on environmentalism It is not that I do not believe the debate between environmentalists and skeptics is not important. It is simply a battle someone more interested in delving into the subject is better equipped to fight. Frankly, there is far too much politically charged zealotry involved for y taste But I will say this...any claims that we must save the planet are absurd.
       The Earth is approximately 4 billion years old. It will be around until the sun goes supernova in about five billion years. Humans have lived on it for as much as 200,000 years. Since 90% of all species ever to exist are already extinct, Earth will most certainly outlast us, too. The planet shows us who the bos is quite often—earthquakes, floods, etc—in case we get any other ideas.
       Now I would like to believe when people claim we need to save the planet, they are not saying that humans are literally destroying the Earth, although I fear many are not engaging in hyperbole. The Earth will be fine. It is people we must worry about.
       I believe we are steward of the Earth, which is why I am a conservationist rather than an environmentalist. The earth is designed to handle the human necessities of life as long as not abused. Where is the line between normal use and abuse? I do not know. Perhaps we could can the exaggerated claims of Earth's imminent doom and focus on that real question?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Steady As She Goes

       I weighed in today. The Lord's day seems like a blessed day to give it a shot, no? I am holding steady at 102 for the third month in a row. It would appear I have settled on my steady, non-feeding tube supplemented weight about a year and a half after removing the tube. There is no telling what took so long, but there you go. Not a bad number for a runt like me. I assume the steady stream of pizza and junk food has its impact.
       Though may be not entirely for the better. I have not mentioned it here, but for the last couple months, the top number of y blood pressure has consistently been over 140. It is not a high enough number to merit medication. In fact, the doctor reminded me it is all downhill once you turn forty, so I should not expect my usual 120 number.
        Or should I? Upon discovering my top number is now consistently 140+, I Googled some suggestions for lowering it. Exercise it the best thing for it. I was afraid of that. Sitting on your rear end eating Doritos and drinking Dr. Pepper does wonders for your weight gain, but does serious damage to your blood pressure. So lately I have emerged fro the Hermit Cave to stroll around a bit every day. It has worked. My blood pressure is back down to 120 something/0 something consistently.
       I have not made weight gain or better blood pressure a new year's resolution. I a skeptical of the idea each January 1st is a clean slate. There is always baggage. Nevertheless, I do what must be done, and things are looking up because of it.        

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top Ten Albums with the Most Impact on Me

10. Half Nelson—Willie Nelson
       Before I was old enough to choose my own music, I was surrounded by the music of my parents and older sister. The country music of my parents stuck with e better than the early MTV music of my sister. Willie Nelson's album of duets with artists as varied as Ray Charles and Carlos Santana readily stick out as my introduction to country.
9. No Jacket Required—Phil Collins
       I am pretty sure Phil Collins was the first MTV era artist I enjoyed. My fondness for his music probably stems from it being featured on the so '80's, it is painful Miami Vice. Collins lead me to seek out similar sounds. The easy listening style has become my consistently favorite type of music.
8. The Big Chill soundtrack
       My parents alsoenjoyed the Motown sound of the early to mid-'60's popular in the summer vacation spot of myrtle beach, South Carolina. I am certain I hear a smattering of the most famous Motown songs over the years prior, but this was the first album in which they were all in one place. When someone says R & B, this is what comes to mind.
7. Permanent Vacation—Aerosmith
       My first taste of big hair, '80's glam rock. I heard Run DMC's cover of “Walk This Way,” but had no idea the band joining in with them recording the song originally years ago or they were making a comeback. All I knew is they could do hard rock and power ballads like I never heard before. Well, that and Steven Tyler looked like ten miles of bad road.
6. Storms of Life—Randy Travis
       Randy Travis was my first experience with back to basics country. Up until the point I first heard this album, country to me was the urban cowboy fad. Even half Nelson flirted with a lot of non-traditional country sound. Here is where I started forming my own taste in country.
5. The Best of Eva Cassidy—Eva Cassidy
       I am cheating a bit. I first heard Eva Cassidy's cover of Cytndi Lauper's “Time After Time” in 2003. At some point during the same year, I heard her cover of Sting's “Fields of Gold.” I liked the Irish-twinged vocals and Cassidy was a new artist who was destined for stardom. Then I looked her up and cried. A lot. Call me sappy, but I do not think she performed a song I have not found haunting. The masochist in e likes feeling haunted.
4. Ropin' the Wind—Garth Brooks
       Garth Brooks skyrocketed to popularity around about the time popular music was plunging into the abyss of dance, pop, and rap. Fans of my kind of music migrated over to country in the early '90's. Brooks' album lead the way.
3. The Best of Simon & Garfunkel—Simon & Garfunkel
       Another cheat. I am not certain which Simon & Garfunkel song I heard first. But I became big fan of the singer/songwriter duo, and wanted to hear it all. I like much of their solo work, too, though Simon holds a slight edge.
2. Hell Freezes Over—Eagles
       You could probably guess this one. Someone who enjoys solid songwriting with a California rock/country sound is bound to love the Eagles. I do. I have owned several greatest hits compilations, but this recording of a live reunion concert in 1994 stands out as my favorite. A few new songs prove the band still had the magic. Rest in peace, Glenn Frey.
1. Songs You Know By Heart—Jimmy Buffett
       I am a devout Parrot Head, though a bi of a late bloomer. I did not get this album until I was in college. It was the soundtrack of y college experience. Since those were some of the best years of my life, the album means the most to me.     

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th and Confirmation Bias

       Today is Friday the 13th. One of those infrequent times when the dark forces of calamity all unite to give you a hard time. Or harder than usual, at least. Are you thinking about staying in bed today with cookies and Netflix so as not to tempt fate? Perhaps you have good reason. Maybe some bad things have happened to you on past Fridays falling on the thirteen. My advice is not to sweat it. In reality you are not any more the unfortunate soul on Friday the 13th than any other day. Here are a couple reasons why.
       Let us get the first, most obvius one out of the way. There is nothing particularly special about Friday the 13th. Thurday the 12th and saturday the 14th happen just as frequently. Yet the fear of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day—paraskevidekatria—has persisted since the 19th century. I could go into the murky history of why Friday and the number 13 have often been associated with calamities in Christianity and norse mythology, I am going to leave that for an article linked at the end of the post. I will instead focus on rational explanations.
       The second and probably most important reason Friday the 13th is considered unlucky is confirmation bias. In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors. Simply put, confirmation bias is the act of drawing a conclusion then searching for evidence to support it instead of drawing a conclusion from evidence gathered first.
       How about an example. You are sitting at your desk working on a random Friday. You may curse lightly, but you will probably simply pick up your pen and resume writing without attributing any significance to the incident. Now assume the same accident happens on Friday the 13th. You might be inclined to blame dropping your pen because of the unluckiness of Friday the 13th. 
       Accidentally dropping your pen is the same act regardless of the day on which it occurs. You only attribute it to the bad luck of Friday the 13th because of the preconceived notion bad things will happen to you on that day.  It is all in you minds, folks. Go out there and have a great day, and stay every bit as safe as you would any other day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Scream. You Scream.

       We all scream and flee in terror from this disturbing ice cream man. A Philadelphia ice cream parlor thought this creepy imagery would make a great advertisement. They were wrong.
       So, so wrong.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ever Wonder What Your Neighbors Are Really Doing?

       Since I do not get invited to the cool parties, presumably I will never know. Something tells me if I befriended them and wound up invited to their shindigs, I would wound up sacrificed the the pagan priestess Samarra.
       Samarra was played by Lana Turner in The Prodigal. It is one of the worst biblical epics of the '50's, but still...Lana Turner.
        There are worse ways to depart this mortal coil.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mind Over Matter

       I usually hold off on selfies until holidays, but this one needed to be thrown in now. As an avowed beach bum, I am no fan of cold weather. Even though we were spared snow this weekend, it is still freezing outside. So now I am engaging in mind over matter.
      In y previous selfie, I declared I was either bundling up for warmth or potting to steal the Mona Lisa. Spoiler alert: the old girl with the peculiar smile remains safely at home in Paris. I was never interested in anything other then staying warm. Besides, it would be next to impossible to unload the painting o the black market. The do not list James Bond villains in the phone book, you know.
       So I have ditched the sweatshirt and toboggan for a tee shirt and a Jimmy Buffett playlist. Yo see...think warm, and you will be warm. Wish me luck!