Smith, Rock, and the Trivialization of Western Culture

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If Neil Postman were alive today, sitting in a bar or café with Chris Hedges, I wonder which one would say “I told you so!” first after seeing social media this past week? The story that clogged the social media pipes this week was the slap one actor gave another on stage during the performance of the annual onanism festival called the Oscars. And as soon as it happened, even while it was occurring, a shitstorm of comments, opinions and reportage flooded social media. Every … click below for more ↓

Hegseth, hand washing and social media

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Fox News host Pete Hegseth has said on air that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because “germs are not a real thing”. That’s the headline you read on dozens of media sites and shared throughout social media (this one from BBC News). Instant reactions (mine included) were “ewwww…” followed by negative comments on Fox News in general. But when you stop to think about it, could it be true? Can someone actually go a decade without washing his hands? No. Surely … click below for more ↓

WTF is wrong with people these days?

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Into everyone’s life comes the realization that we are not young and in between the time when we were, the world has changed. Not always for the better, either. In fact, it’s hard not to conclude the whole world has gone to shit since the internet arrived. Aging is not something that, as a culture, we embrace. After all, who wants to be old? Being a senior today is way too often portrayed in the media as being vulnerable, out of touch and cranky, as … click below for more ↓

You’re going to die. Again.

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Yeah, I know: we’re ALL going to die sooner or later. No one gets out of here alive. But that doesn’t stop people from saying the end is nearer than we expect. Right around the corner, in fact. The latest Magical Event being touted online (which event is absolutely not like all those others they predicted in the past…) starts December 21 (apparently “the week of Hanukkah in December 2019” because nothing says Jewish festive occasion and worship like the Christian end of the world…), … click below for more ↓

Misquoting Shakespeare. Again.

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Let me begin with a digression on memes. Like a virus, a meme can spread uncontrollably in the right environment and infect millions with an idea or goal. This, of course, is good for such advocates of social ideals as Greenpeace or PETA, but like viruses, there can be bad memes that do more damage than good. More, it seems, than good or socially constructive memes. A meme is the self-propagating cultural equivalent of a virus*, but rather than spreading its DNA, a meme spreads … click below for more ↓

Baby, It’s Politically Correct Outside…

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I must have travelled to another universe because when I awoke, the world had gone mad. Radio stations were pulling a popular, rather over-played, 74-year-old, playful holiday song because some folks thought it was about rape. Sexual assault. Or at least non-consensual sex. The media was full of Chicken Littles screaming that the cultural sky was falling if radio stations continued to play it. The song was subject of weighty opinions on editorial pages. What is going on in this strange, politically correct and apparently unhinged … click below for more ↓

The bucket list, kicked

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Nowadays the “bucket list” concept has become a wildly popular cultural meme, thanks to the movie of the same name. Subsequent marketing of the idea to millennials has proven a successful means to derive them of their income, with which they seem eager to part. I don’t like the concept. The list, I mean, not necessarily the plucking of the millennial chickens who willingly hand over their financial feathers. They get what they deserve. Bucketlist.org has, at the time of this writing, more than 5.317 … click below for more ↓

Transcendance

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It’s not surprising that AI replaced the biological form in the popular Frankenstein monster trope. In fact the smart-evil-machine scenario has been done so often this past decade or so that I’m more surprised any film writer or director can manage to give it some semblance of uniqueness that differs it from all the others. Transcendence tries, tries very hard and almost makes it. But the brass ring remains out of reach. Still, it’s worth watching if you’re a scifi buff because, well, it’s scifi.* And even … click below for more ↓

Type amen, click like and share…

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I created what proved an interesting discussion on Facebook recently when I threatened to ‘unfriend’ anyone who continued to out those obnoxious ‘type amen and share’ posts on their timelines. Now if you’re a FB user, you have seen these things endless times. They’re as common as the “50% will get this math question wrong” and “you won’t believe what happened next!” or the “Nine out of ten can’t answer these questions” posts. Most of these are simply trolling posts that lead to pages replete with clickbait, … click below for more ↓

Nope, That’s Not by Marcus Aurelius

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An image appeared on my Facebook feed one day purporting to be a quotation taken from the Roman emperor and philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. Having read his Meditations more than once in multiple translations, I was baffled because it didn’t look at all familiar or even sound like him. But was it a new translation? The quote is: Everything we hear is a opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. It’s a good line, even if a tautology (the statement … click below for more ↓

Bad News For Balderdash

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A recent story on New Scientist gives a glimmer of hope for those of us who bemoan the swelling tsunami of claptrap and codswallop that fills the internet: THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness. What a relief that will be. Of course it may spell doom for the popularity of pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, fad diets, racist, anti-vaccination fearmongers, … click below for more ↓

Abusing quotation marks

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What goes through your mind when you see words in a paragraph or a sentence surrounded by quotation marks? Like that sign in the image on your left? That they are words excerpted from conversations or written content? Or that they are special; peculiar words, or perhaps used ironically, sarcastically or in jest? Take these examples from the “Blog” of Unnecessary Quotation Marks: “Chicken” pot pies $5.99 Please open the door “slowly” “Push” the last channel button. No “Free” refills It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? … click below for more ↓

Our gawker culture

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Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire to gawk. Meanwhile psychopaths in ISIS continue to harvest human lives and slaughter journalists, Syria continues its brutal civil war, drought threatens the American southwest, climate change ravages the planet, Russia … click below for more ↓

Pyramids in the Ice: Hoax

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What is it about pyramids that excites the imagination? Their shape? Their size? Height? Age? The complexities and difficulties in their building? Or the sheer grandeur of them? And what is it about them that get the cranks and conspiracy theorists so fired up? What is it about these  constructions that convince some folks they’re made by – or for – aliens? Or that there’s some bizarre coverup by governments to keep people from knowing the “truth” about them? This week I noticed some odd … click below for more ↓

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