The Randomness of Pi 

“Pi is an infinite, nonrepeating decimal — meaning that every possible number combination exists somewhere in pi. Converted into ASCII text, somewhere in that infinite string of digits is the name of every person you will ever love, the date, time, and manner of your death, and the answers to all the great questions of the universe.”

This blog post is dedicated to the random nature of my life, everyone’s life really, when you think about it. The following short stories are the summation of the less boring events of the last five days in my ordinary random life_ but we have no proof.

Are the Digits of Pi Random?”, The Huffington Post, D. H. Bailey and J. M. Borwein, Updated 16 June 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-h-bailey/are-the-digits-of-pi-random_b_3085725.html>

 

A Grocer’s Premium Meats and other stories

“Capitalism, when did I sign up for that? “

I am vegan, most of the time; however, I do believe in listening to my body’s cravings. Should I wake from a dream filled with the tastes and aromas of a perfectly broiled Delmonico steak, my favorite cut of beef, you may rest assured that I will purchase that cut, prepare it with slices of button mushrooms, a baked potato, and a vegetable of choice. This is a rare and wondrous meal that I seldom prepare for myself.

It occasioned during the early hours of Monday morning that I should be visited by such nocturnal imaginings, and I resolved myself to obtain the item of my corporal desires. Unfortunately, the next trip to Market Basket is not scheduled until the “Day That Will Live in Infamy.” I thought to myself, “I do not want to wait another three to four weeks before satisfying my craving; therefore, I decided to walk to a local grocer close to where I call home. The item I sought was amply stocked and my salivary glands began to function as designed, until my eye focused on the price sticker and the amassing salivary amylase halted abruptly. $14.99 per lb. is what I read; this is close to triple what the same cut of beef retails for at Market Basket.

The butcher’s helper, who just happened to be stocking the bins during my astoundment, received my full attention.

“Why is your beef priced so high?” I inquired.

“Higher than whom?” He responded.

“Market Basket beef is one third the price per pound of yours! I informed him accusingly.

“Oh, all of our meats are “Prime” cuts of beef, pork, and chicken.” He replied with haughty derision. “Market Basket carries a lower level of USDA inspected meat.”

http://www.fooducate.com/app#!page=post&id=57A327E1-904A-C9DD-45FD-B431E7BA7A8E

“Oh yeah, well I got your prime cut right here!” I said while grasping my crotch. “You have no variety.

“We carry most cuts of beef, is there something special you want, we can provide any cut you would like.” He replied helpfully, hoping to rid himself of this crazy old man.

“Yes, I would like something that I can afford.” I demanded and of course, you know his reply.

Now, I prefer to shop at Market Basket in the first place; however, without transport my options are limited. I will have to forgo satiating my desire for yet another four weeks.

Elitism- The grocery store where this interaction took place practices a form of elitism that is only surpassed by its management’s pomposity! Refusing to offer your customers a range of USDA levels is just hubris. Believing that their store and clientele are so wealthy as not to care about the cost is inexcusable, elitist, and nothing but what I expected from so pompous a family owned business. It flows directly from a belief that I have mine, so you can go pound. This is what comes from living in a capitalistic society. An economic system where the distinction between wealth and poverty steadily grows to a point where a merchant believes that he need only cater to the tastes and pocketbooks of his wealthy clients.

 

*************Same day, different mood. *************

 

Brown Skinned Girl

A brown-skinned young woman stood in line waiting her opportunity to place her beverage order. From my vantage, seated directly in front of the barista’s counter, I admired her comely features. She wore no discernible makeup. Her eyes were large and deep brown, protected by luxuriously long lashes; the longest eyelashes I have ever observed.

 

*************You Are So Vain*************

“You walked into the Coffee Shop

Like you were walking on to a yacht

Your red cap strategically dipped below one eye…”

Why?

Someone, I do not recall exactly who, suggested that we, of the liberal persuasion, should engage in polite discourse with those who have identified themselves as being supporters of the newly elected Administration. Until this day I had only engaged with members of the far Right in online disquisitions, it never turned out well.

How could someone raise my ire so emphatically, simply by walking into the room, strolling past my table, and wearing a bright red cap, emblazoned with a shibboleth that read “Make America Great Again?”

I so wanted to engage this man in a discussion regarding his provocative headpiece but I feared my rage, a similar anger to the one that he and his ilk had so recently soothed by virtue of the outcome of the 2016 election. I wanted nothing so much as to rip his lid off his gray-haired head, say something profoundly progressive, and walk off triumphantly. However, I was afraid, afraid that this endorser of racism, misogyny, and hate would do something untoward, requiring me to respond in kind.

While I sat, thinking of all the clever comments that I could hurl at this man it occurred to me that I was behaving like a coward. How could I ever again claim the moral high ground if I did not at least attempt to engage the man in conversation. Plucking up my courage, it was close to the time I need to leave to catch my bus anyway, I walked toward where the man was seated.

“Excuse me, I do not mean to disturb you but I could not help but notice you cap, and I would like to ask you a question.” I began. “Why? _You do realize what a Republican Administration headed by Trump will do to people like me? So why do you support such a man?”

The man began his even-tempered, thoughtful response by stating that he believed that Trump had the skills the country needed. Then he told of his own story.

“I am a business owner. I have started two companies, the second of which is doing quite well.” Yadda, yadda, yadda, I, I, I, and so on and so forth; basically intoning that he was a captain of industry, a self made man, like Trump, who says what he means. My take away from his soft spoken but smug answer was, here is someone who feels “I have mine, so you can go pound, _and I want more!” I felt the rage building inside but kept it under tight restraint and continued.

“There are many people, like me, who are frightened by some of Trump’s statements and actions.” I said.

“Oh I do not believe that anyone should worry about that, he will be good for the country and straighten out Washington.” He claimed.

It was at this point that I decided that it was futile to talk further with this true believer. How can you shine a light in a room that is already so bright with its own glow? Here was an obviously wealthy, well educated, and erudite individual who in one perfunctory conversation had totally dispelled my image of the average Trump supporter. This knowledge frightens me even more now that I know that there are upper middle class individuals who are more than willing to support an incompetent, dangerous, and severely flawed man for the most powerful position in the world.

 

************* A most disgusting morning! *************

I like to walk along the Rail Trail that is currently under construction near my residence in Acton, MA. During my walks, I have seen copious numbers of Deer tracks that indicate that there are many in the area. I do not have to remind you that where there are Deer there are also Deer ticks. This morning I found one attached to my person. I will not say where it had located itself, it suffices to say that it did not bother to buy me diner first.

I quickly took to the internet to determine the quickest and safest method of removal and proceeded with the described operation. After bagging and freezing the specimen for later identification per the online recommendations, I thoroughly washed the area with disinfectant soap. I can only hope that I successfully removed the entire disgusting little arachnid.

I will refrain from my walks through the woods until I can purchase a product that contains DEET for my clothing. I assume the pest hitched a ride on my pants during my last excursion this past weekend and crawled up my pant leg afterward, until it found its desired destination. Gag me with a spoon that was so gross I may never recover or venture out of doors again.

It was a bright, sunny Friday morning when I discovered my guest; therefore, I decided to email my Primary Care Physician and seek his advice. I immediately received instructions to thoroughly wash the area and to take a double dose of an antibiotic my Doctor prescribed and phoned into my regular pharmacy. I readily complied and went about my usual day.

I have an allergy to a specific class of antibiotics. I am asked at almost every doctor visit if I have any allergies to which I always answer; “yes, I am allergic to Tetracycline.” By Sunday morning, I was not feeling well. Noticing the usual lesion that indicated that I had ingested the drug to which I am allergic, I took to the internet to search for the name of the meds I had been prescribed. Sure enough, they are from the same family or class of antibiotics. Incensed I sent this email Sunday evening:

“Dr. X et al,

Allergic reaction to Tetracycline and Doxycycline

“Tetracycline and doxycycline are part of a class of broad spectrum antibiotics known as tetracycline antibiotics. All antibiotics in this class of medications are derived from the same basic four-hydrocarbon ring structure. Each medication, however, is slightly different in terms of exact ring structure, recommended uses, pharmacokinetics, and documented bacterial resistance.”

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-tetracycline-and-doxycycline.htm

Why on god’s green earth would you prescribe for me a medication from the same class of drugs to which I am allergic? You people have asked me enough times if I have any drug allergies and my response has always been “YES, TETRACYCLINE!”

I have not see a lesion on my person like the one I developed Sunday in over forty years. Same lesion at the same location.

Your very unhappy patient

be well

Signed in the usual manner”

By Tuesday, I had received no reply so a resent the email, only this time a Nurse responded informing me that my Doctor has been out of the office since last Friday; so now I wait for an answer to my query; however, I already have prepared my response.

“If you were aware of the antibiotic conflict then you should have informed me of the possibility of a reaction and allowed me to make the choice. If, on the equipoise, you were unaware of the harm your prescription would cause then shame upon you for not knowing. Not only have you caused harm, minor though it is, you have also managed to damage my trust and faith in the physician-patient relationship. I honestly do not know how we proceed from here.”

Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fe, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and condemnation from me.

 

*************Friendship, love, and other concerns*************

She is a survivor, just like me. We met online. I read her comment, shared on a mutual friend’s post about her diagnosis and I decided to reach out and offer what support I could. We began our remote friendship tentatively and I did not expect much to come of it past a few appurtenant exchanges confirming our shared malady. My new friend’s name is, well let us just refer to her as “Sophie.” Sophie had just received a diagnosis of breast cancer requiring a double mastectomy, understandably, she was fearful and not a little concerned about her future.

We shared cancer stories and survivor stories over the next eighteen months, well into her recovery. We exchanged photos of each other and I was quite taken aback by the comeliness of this young woman . Sophie has a vibrant personality and exuberant love of life; I was certain that she would be fine, once her restorative surgeries were complete, and she felt confident enough to go out socially again. Little did I comprehend the importance of size to the female mind.

Sophie had her heart set on new and improved breasts, something she claimed to have desired since seventh grade. She was crestfallen when her Surgeon informed her that implants were incompatible with the life saving chemotherapy medication she needed to take.

We began writing via Facebook Messenger almost daily and a bond developed that for me, filled a void I did not know existed in my life. Sophie and I would go on cyber movie dates together since we are not geographically compatible to actually to meet in person. Cyber movie dates work like this, we both would rent the same title and watch it together on our separate screens 1,695.86 miles apart. We would make text comments via cell phone, critiquing the film, the actors, but never the company.

We conducted lengthy disquisitions about myriad philosophical topics; however, it became obvious to me that a now healthy young woman, like Sophie, needed more in her life than an aging old wordsmith for her to be fulfilled; Sophie must begin dating again, and with real flesh and blood males.

By this time, I had assumed a parental role in our relationship, the age difference, geographical incompatibility, and my distaste for socializing precluded our becoming more than cyber buddies. It was not that I would have discouraged or rejected an intimate relationship; unfortunately, I would make a poor partner in any romantic associations either here or in cyberspace. Regardless, Sophie still needed guidance and I resolved to provide what aid I could.

We continued to correspond even after Sophie summoned the courage to “put herself out there.” Moreover, my admiration for this survivor only increased.

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there are many self-absorbed wankers out in the dating world. All are of the swinging dick variety. The people Sophie was meeting were not fully formed men yet, just boys whose only interested was in satisfying their own prurient needs with little regard for the feelings of others.

After a while we began to correspond with less and less frequency and I would have to hunt Sophie down from time to time, as she would disappear from social media without warning. When we did reconnect, she would express elation at finding a new love interest or despair when that relationship disappointed. I tried to respond with quotes and anecdotal euphemisms intended to support Sophie’s frame of mind. Here is a sample of one such parable.

“A man once asked his father, “Father, how will I ever find the right woman?” His father replied, “Forget finding the right woman, focus on being the right man.”

Finally, Sophie wrote me that she had met someone nice, respectful, and kind. Somewhat younger that her; however, that was a much needed ego boost, or so she reported. In subsequent correspondences, Sophie confided that her new boyfriend/young friend/snuggle pal suffered from bipolar disorder. Alarm bells and sirens went off in my head, I was deeply concerned and stated as much in as gentle a manner as I was capable of, while conveying an imperative to be cautious. I recommended that Sophie read the novel entitled, oddly enough with her namesake, Sophie’s Choice a disturbing novel that details the pain and suffering experienced by a post WWII Nazi Concentration camp survivor and her bipolar boyfriend. Bipolar disorder is eminently manageable today with medication, as long as the patient remains on their meds. I was concerned that my cyber buddy was getting involved with more than she could handle.

As of this writing Sophie is working out physically on a regular basis, working on herself, and maintaining an on again off again relationship with her bipolar friend who I refer to as Mad Max, make of that what you will.

“Most people in your life were only meant for dreams, and summer laughter. They stay till the wind changes, the tides turn, or disappear with the first snow. And then there are some that were forged to weather blizzards and pain with you. They were cast in iron, set in gold and never ever leave you to face anything alone. Know who those people are. And love them the way they deserve. Not everyone in your life is temporary. A few are as permanent as love is old.” ~ Nikita Gill, Temporary and Permanent

An exceptionally beautiful autumn Morning

An exceptionally beautiful autumn Morning

The access to the rail trail was much easier this morning than it has been on previous walks, despite the fact that Starbase Acton remains under construction. Part way through my conversation with the Almighty I easily walked up the dirt ramp, past the silent earthmovers, and around the piles of coarse sand, known as ‘crushrun’ to those who work in the road building profession. As always She, who is the Creator of all things, listened intently while I babbled on about who needed Her assistance, who should be wrapped within her healing power, and who needed Her attention – BTW, I said it is everyone!

Once past the meager obstructions the path opened on to a leaf-strewn whirlwind of treetop detritus blowing about, back and forth with each gust of wind. I was thankful for the presence of mind that allowed me to bring my hooded sweatshirt, a gift from my auburn haired daughter, Liz. It was chilly in the shade and the stiff breeze made the hoodie a welcome accoutrement. I observed only one solitary Blue Heron, fishing for his brunch as I strolled leisurely along the path. I assumed it was a male because of its large size, he was a rather big fellow but that did not make him the least bit brave or bold and he flew off with a squawk before I could capture an image of him.

Continuing my trek, I indulged in that ancient childhood imperative of shuffling through the fallen leaves accumulating on a section of the roadway. It held the same delight I recalled from my youth; however, when I turned around to see the mighty swath I was certain that I had cut in my wake, there was nothing. I might just as well have been some ethereal being without form or substance walking along this trail. The wind gusts blew additional leaves covering my tracks. Would that all humankind tread with so light a touch upon the earth, it would be a far better world.

I briefly toyed with the idea of calling my friend Mike Gowing to see if he and his lovely bride were amenable to an impromptu visit. Then I remembered the 30% coupon I had waiting at CVS, good only for one additional day, and the pile of laundry I had waiting so I turned around and started back; socializing and visiting would have to wait for another time.

The Gas Station at the intersection of Route 27 and Great Road boasts a lovely display of Hearty Mums and I stopped to take their photo before making my way to the pedestrian light and crossing. Once safely across I walked through the mostly deserted parking lot wondering if a new Coffee Shop would ever open their doors. It has been almost a year since the previous shop closed their door and deserted Woods Plaza.

CVS was the only anchor store open at this early hour; most other vendors would not open until noon or Monday morning. The comely and friendly CVS Assistant manager greeted me as I entered and assisted me in finding the items I wanted. I bought some personal hygiene items and assorted chocolate treats because, well you know, it is Halloween and I like chocolate.

Arriving home, I found Miss Nala waiting by the door, hoping to sneak out into the hallway for an adventure of her own. Dashing her hopes, I let her out onto the porch instead where she engaged in some leaf chasing and other cat-centric activities that she enjoys.

Lilies Along the Road

Lilies along the road

Finally my Health Care Team figured out, with my insistence, that a three month’s supply of my nightly medication was a better idea than prescribing my static dose one bottle at a time; we are the greatest country in the world with the best medical care anywhere at any time, we take better care of our senior citizens than any other nation in the world, NOT.

This is Lilly; I have not seen her or her sisters since last summer. However, since I needed to risk life and limb walking down Route 2A to get my 3 months prescription at CVS Pharmacy, I decided to stop for a visit. The awareness and politeness of drivers frequenting this highway has not improved since last I wrote about them, By The Way! If anything, they have gotten worse.

Lilly and her family are looking lovely as always at this time of the year. Ample sunshine and regular watering will do that for a blossom or so I am told, and the flowers along Great Road that are fortunate enough to receive regular maintenance look healthy and robust; a stark contrast to those left to their own devices.

It is just eight A.M. and already I have broken a sweat leaving my Condominium Complex on Davis Rd. The traffic is brisk; drivers making their way to work have little patience for early morning pedestrians. I finally approach the corner of Davis and Great Road where I begin my long lapsed conversation with God; however, She is always willing to listen to me, no matter how long I have been absent.

The construction site at the Rail Trail is booming, filled with vehicles parked along the side of the road. The cars and trucks are lined up on my side of Route 27 for approximately one hundred to two hundred feet and there is even a Law Enforcement Officer, replete with a weapon strapped to his hip. There is little room to walk this stretch of highway even when construction vehicles are not parked here but today there is no space for a pedestrian to pass except in the northbound lane. The Police Officer is a young man of about thirty years of age but with a baby face. He notices my passing; however, unlike previous Officers he did not attempt to manage the traffic, leaving me to my own devices to pass the area as best I could.

The work on the Rail Trail is progressing slowly but inexorably and I make a mental note to check it out during the next weekend when the work crews are off and the heavy equipment is silent and still, if I remember (highly unlikely). Following my regular path, I cross 2A after the bridge and conclude my benediction in the customary fashion. Remarkably, I pass an elderly gentleman with a cane walking in the opposite direction; he is carrying a CVS bag.

“I like your style!” I commented.

“I am doing the best that I can.” He responded amicably.

I arrived at the dreaded Rt. 27 – Great Road intersection, the site of many a negative pedestrian/ vehicular operator interaction. The light for the eastbound traffic on Rt. 27 was green as I approached, it turned red just as I pressed the button and vehicles in this lane rushed to make it through the intersection leaving one driver at the light approximately six feet beyond the white stop line and directly blocking my path. There was no one behind him so I fully expected him to back up; however, he did not. The pedestrian light lit up indicating my turn to traverse the road and still the driver blocking the road did not back up out of my way. I was forced to walk around the front of his vehicle and yet there was still no other car behind his to impede him from backing up. I gave him my nastiest glare of death and shook my head but in that inscrutable manner of the Asian Race, he merely smiled and waved.

With my CVS bag filled with meds, I followed a reciprocal coarse home, stopping to chat with Lilly and admire her extended family. Crossing 2A at the appropriate time and place, I arrived once more at the Rail Trail construction site and the LE Officer who was supposed to be on duty. This time he looked up from his reading but again made no attempt to control or orchestrate the flow of traffic. I waited until there were no vehicles traveling on my side of the road before I stepped out into Great Road; however, a rather large SUV turned onto 2A from Davis Road just as I did. It was tight and I expected the female driver to stop to let me pass; however, she drove right on by ignoring my presence in the inscrutable manner of the Asian Race. The LE Officer made no attempt to intervene and did not call for the woman to stop or pull over. Has the world gone mad? Is the rule of Law a thing of the past? Can people now do just as they please? As I recall the law, vehicles are supposed to come to a stop when a pedestrian is in the roadway, or have I simply lost my mind?

Section 11. When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling.

No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed.

Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200.”

Wow a whole $200 dollars, no wonder no one pays attention!

 

The State of Journalism is directly related to the State of the Nation

Is the United States the leader of the Free World?

Depending upon whom you ask the answer varies. Certainly, we in the States suck at providing affordable Health Care, Maternity and Paternity leave, and let us not forget to look at equality, where the record is even more abysmal, although improving somewhat. It is true that for many Americans the question of equal status has improved marginally, notably among members of LGBT community, whose members can finally legally marry whom they choose. However, when you consider that women are still not guaranteed equal pay for equal work, there remains an inability of our Congress to pass legislation on immigration, Black men and women must take inordinate care when involved in even a minor traffic stop, and then there is the squalor that Native Americans are forced to endure. You will see that in many sections of our society the struggle for equality is far from over.

Returning to my original question, how does the United States compare with other Industrialized Nations on that quintessential point we claim as our own, “Leadership of the Free World”? When asked with so broad a brush the questions becomes daunting; however, if we focus on just one particular segment of our American assertion of greatness, the Fourth Estate, the question ‘how do we measure up’  becomes easier to determine. What is the status of the US Free Press, that one source of information that we Americans have always prided ourselves on as being superior to all other Nations; however, without any real recent validation or merit to prove that assumption? The United States has always touted and extolled itself for having a powerful Free Press, the Fourth Estate, MSM (Mainstream Media), or simply “journalism.” I decided one morning to research that assumption, and report what I had gleaned. The method I used was to search “Google”, if you will, using text searches looking for articles on the above subject matter and then read them. What I discovered should be a wakeup call to that bedrock of our free society, our misinformed populace; however, I fear we have left it too long and the damage is irrevocable.

Queries used:

  1. “Statistics of how the US News Media compares with other industrialized Nations“
  2. “How does US News Media compare with other industrialized Nations?”
  3. “What is the condition of the fourth estate in the US?”

There were many hits but scant articles available that are currently written about the topic I am interested in documenting, I wondered why, perhaps MSM does not like reporting on itself.

The first article I found was from Michael Brenner, a notable learned gentleman with a list of credits longer that this post. His opinion was a breath of fresh air, even though it verifies my worst impressions and fears for the current state of journalistic content in the US. As evidenced by the following quote from an article written by Brenner and published the Huffington Post.

“The now systematic disparagement of China by the MSM — led by the NYT — is pernicious. It encourages complacency; it feeds American hubris; it deepens our parochialism.

Americans are finding it hard enough to swallow the anathematic truth that the United States may not have been mandated with a Providential mission to lead the world. Masking the dismaying evidence otherwise provides no useful service. Quite the opposite.”

…                                                             

“As noted in the examples above, the lack of follow-up is a striking flaw in the coverage of stories domestic and international. Leaving important matters in limbo is to burden the readership with the task of either searching obscure Internet websites or losing track of what is going on. Journalism that resembles a-dab- here,-a-dab-there is close to worthless.” 1

Lest I appear too negatively biased against our Corporate Media, I continued reading and documenting. I found one case where a controversy was seemingly resolved with the aid and influence of the media. “The US-South Korea Beef Imports Controversy.” 2

I turned to the prestigious Pew Research Center for further insight. The data collected draws the conclusion that most news executives are worried about the future of Journalism.

“the answers suggested both groups of news executives were more concerned with failures on the business side rather than the journalistic side. In short, news executives believe that missed opportunities to develop revenue have hurt more than any problems in attracting audiences or producing the news differently.”

When asked in the manner most used by PEW in soliciting information, the survey returned disparate results from the groups asked to participate, they were clearly divided as the results became known.

 “News executives in this survey are clearly divided. When asked what is more to blame for journalism’s problems—are they the inevitable result of technology or more a matter of missed opportunity—news executives are broken into three almost equal camps. A third see the problems as mostly a failure to adapt, about a third as inevitable and just over a third sensing a pretty even mix of the two.” 3

Unfortunately, what is lacking in the PEW research is any attempt to measure data on the root cause of why corporate media outlets have failed their mandate. A focus on profit has become paramount in the past several decades. Economics as the driving force and not the integrity of their journalism is what could well lead to the downfall of the Fourth Estate. The mad rush to consolidate organizations in an effort to cuts cost and increase profit has had a deleterious effect on the quality of their product, “informing the public.”

It is the French or perhaps more accurately the EU in France that has, in many regards surpassed, what passes for Journalism in the US.

“France enjoys a free press and has more than 100 daily newspapers. Most of them are in private hands and are not linked to political parties.

Public broadcaster Radio France targets the domestic audience, French overseas territories, and foreign audiences. Radio France Internationale is one of the world’s leading international stations. Its Arabic-language Monte Carlo International service broadcasts across the Middle East.

Global news channel France 24 TV broadcasts in French, English, and Arabic. It has said it aims to present “a different point of view from the Anglo-Saxon world”. 4

I believe that we Americans need to ask ourselves, and soon, if we are willing to accept what the Corporate media is offering or if we are going to demand a higher standard.

Who owns the media in the US?

In 2011 a blogger named Jason who originated Frugaldad.com wrote and created a piece about the consolidation of US Media outlets from eighty-six in nineteen eighty-three to just six in two thousand eleven and there have been further consolidations since then.  It is frightening to know that the US Electorate receives most of their information from a handful of corporate entities controlled by a few hundred men and women. Is it any wonder that with this narrow view of the world, our political stage, and our society that the public is confused and divided?

I continued searching along in this vein and found another link to a Pew Research Center article that is even more frighteningly informative. It is an interactive database of listings for “Who Owns the News Media” . 5 It is an interactive database of companies that own news properties in the United States.

The information distilled from the Pew data is beyond terrifying and should be of great concern to those remaining critical thinkers in the US.

“Increasingly, the data suggest that the impact these technology companies are having on the business of journalism goes far beyond the financial side, to the very core elements of the news industry itself. In the predigital era, journalism organizations largely controlled the news products and services from beginning to end, including original reporting; writing and production; packaging and delivery; audience experience; and editorial selection. Over time, technology companies like Facebook and Apple have become an integral, if not dominant player in most of these arenas, supplanting the choices and aims of news outlets with their own choices and goals.” 6

How the news or journalistic articles are chosen and offered to the public has undergone a reformation since the financial crisis of 2008. With media outlets cutting back on editorial staff and relying upon Social Media to an increasingly alarming rate to deliver content, what stories get play depends not upon their intellectual, political, or informative merit but instead on trending interests. Those interest can be vapid at best, violently prurient at worst. If left to our basest instincts to determine editorial content we can expect a serious decline in the scholarly levels of what we are offered to read in print, online, and on cable television. What does this portend for our Democracy, our Society, and our children?

There are some innovative attempts to deliver the News, experimenting with new ways to tell stories. The Pew article discusses these, but not in great detail. This whole experience and exploration of this subject has left me deeply concerned about the future of our fragile society. If the sources from where we obtain our decision-making criteria are controlled by a scant few or left to algorithms, developed by machines and based on financial concerns then how can we possibly trust that information? We have a choice to either seek alternative news outlets that suit our personal bias, or to contribute financially to those independent news sources that still adhere to some semblance of journalistic integrity. However, that involves assuming the burden of both becoming informed enough to be discerning on the current issues of the day and then reading what is being offered so as to know the difference; you can see the ‘Catch 22’ in this easily enough, I assume.

 

References:

  1. “The Fourth Estate ‘Takes the Fifth’”, 09/08/2015 Updated Sep 08, 2015, Brenner M. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brenner/the-fourth-estate-takes-the-fifth_b_8104666.html>
  2. “THE FOURTH ESTATE’S INFLUENCE ON DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACIES: MEDIA FRAMING OF THE 2008 US-SOUTH KOREA BEEF IMPORTS CONTROVERSY”, GNOVIS JOURNAL 2015, 24 August 2010, Cho, H. <http://www.gnovisjournal.org/2010/08/24/fourth-estates-influence-deliberative-democracies-media-framing-2008-us-south-korea-beef-imp/>
  3. “The State of Journalism”, Pew Research Center, 8 April 2010, <http://www.journalism.org/2010/04/08/child/>
  4. “France country profile”, BBC News, 12 February 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17298730>
  5. “MEDIA CONSOLIDATION: THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE”, Jason, 22 November 2011, <http://frugaldad.com/2011/11/22/media-consolidation-infographic/>
  6. “State of the News Media 2016”, Pew Research Center 15 JUNE 2016, A. Mitchell and J. Holcomb, <http://www.journalism.org/2016/06/15/state-of-the-news-media-2016/>

Who should live, who should die, and who gets to decide?

The recent tragedies in Orlando FL have launched me on a strange dark path. Killing is wrong, we can all agree on that, enshrined as that imperative is in Judao-Christian doctrine and I believe humanity is the better for it. However, what rules should apply for the other sentient species with whom we share this planet? It is in their natures to kill to survive, so should that other biblical compulsory edict apply to them too.

 “…19’If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him. 21’Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death.…” Leviticus 24:20

Or

“…20″The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21″Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Now, I do not consider myself religious, I view the bible as a guidebook for appropriate behavior and not the ultimate word from on high that some do. I do; however, see a conflict with how men act with regard to other creatures with whom we share planet Earth. Humankind looks at the species on the land and in the oceans as commodities, purely for personal gain, a concept currently described as ‘ecosystems services’. It holds the notion that plants and animals are merely saleable items and indentured to our market system. We view ourselves above nature. It is an anthropocentric view of the world. Thinking that human needs supersede all others is what has brought us to this desperate state of affairs in the first place.

The deaths in Orlando, forty-nine murders perpetrated by a human being acting against his nature and the other single death, the result of an animal acting according to his/her nature presents a sad and disturbing question. Should the same rules apply for both species? Should the alligator who dragged the two-year-old child to his death be held to the same standard that Omar Mateen would have been held to had he survived? If that is in fact the case then how is it justified to hunt and kill all the alligators now residing in the inviting manmade lakes surrounding Disney World? Mateen would have been apprehended and stood trial for his crimes; however, no such consideration is given to the reptiles now inhabiting the Disney lake, they are hunted and killed. Protection, Justice, or Retribution?

I am finding it difficult to justify the general slaughter of any animal simply because it is behaving as designed by nature. After my fashion, I took to the internet to see what others thought of this dilemma and as you would expect I found much written about this topic.

“We are the most invasive species who has ever roamed Earth, redecorating nature willy-nilly with little regard about the lives of the other animals into whose homes and lives we’ve trespassed. When we choose to live or go where dangerous animals live there is a risk involved.”

I read many articles calling for the animal to be destroyed on the justification that “That individuals “get the taste for blood” after attacking a human…” a myth that seems to live on and on, unlike any predator unfortunate enough to have dined on human flesh, since we humans, apex killers ourselves, do not suffer a man-eater to long survive. I would prefer that the alligators currently living in and around ‘the happiest place on earth’ be relocated to where our presence does not offer so tempting an opportunity to do what they do best, hunt and feed.

Recently I viewed a National Geographic Magazine documentary featuring villages in India where the human inhabitants have learned to live peacefully side by side with Leopards without the need to kill or destroy the entire population of these magnificent creatures.

If several small villages in India can find the means to live in relative harmony alongside an apex predator, then why cannot visitors to Disney World do likewise?

“The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Saturday morning musing

Well it is a slow Saturday morning and there is not much going on to get my blood pressure up on Facebook. Therefore, in such cases I go searching through what passes for the Fourth Estate in America these days and found that there really is not much going on. When this occurs I have a third fallback option, I seek out science for stimulating stories to write about and share. How about this one for inspiration:

Neuroscientists Discover a New Way to Cross the Blood–Brain Barrier, The harmless virus could deliver medicine throughout the brain_

By Monique Brouillette on June 1, 2016

As a result, doctors who treat patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, often have to inject drugs directly into the brain, an invasive approach that requires drilling into the skull.”

Alternatively, perhaps this story:

Why We Should Finish the Human Genome,

About one percent of our DNA hasn’t yet been mapped–and it could contain information crucial to our functioning and health_

By Harold “Skip” Garner on June 10, 2016

The reason why the last one percent has not been finished is because it is really hard. Mainly it is composed of repetitive sequences, like CAG-CAG-CAG-CAG-CAG-CAG…that go on for millions of DNA letters. This confuses the technology and software, something we have overcome. The reason the last one percent is important is because we found that in between all those hard repetitive sections lie undiscovered genes, some of which we have now found. All gene-containing sequences go into something called the “reference genome,”4 and that is what every scientist uses to study and try to find the genetic contributions to diseases or traits. If a gene is not in the reference it never gets studied. So our having discovered these will enable lots of others to study them.”

And my personal favorite this morning:

Relaxation Benefits Introverts More Than Extraverts in Boosting Creativity

A new study found that relaxation training benefited introverts more than extraverts in boosting creative thinking_

By Scott Barry Kaufman on June 9, 2016

Which leads to another fascinating finding from their study: while ideational-skills training benefited extraverts more than introverts, relaxation training benefited introverts more than extraverts.

Many people aren’t at their creative best when they are forced to “Be creative!” on the spot, and will be far more creative when given the opportunity to think deeply and reflectively in the comfort of quiet.”

It would appear that from this last article at least, having a slow Saturday will exacerbate the creativity of big ol’ “I”s like myself.

Disillusionment

Disillusionment

Disillusion – [dis-i-loo-zhuh n] – Verb (used with object) – to free from or deprive of illusion, belief, idealism, etc.; disenchant.

Noun 2. – a freeing or a being freed from illusion or conviction; disenchantment.

Origin of disillusion 1590-16001590-1600; dis-1+ illusion – disillusionment, noun

I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with politics! More precisely, with politicians. I get it, in order to win election to Public office you have to really, really want it. You must put yourself out there, exposed for your would be constituency to see, poke a stick at, and decide your fate.

Yuck, who would want to do that?

Someone driven by a superior sense of public service, e.g. “Serving the Public Good”, admirable, yes? I think so, and I personally know several individuals who meet and surpass that criteria.

So what is my problem?

Self-sacrifice – [self-sak-ruh-fahys, self-]  – Noun – Sacrifice of one’s interests, desires, etc., as for duty or the good of another.

Origin of self-sacrifice Expand – 1795-18051795-1805

  1. self-sacrificer, noun
  2. self-sacrificial [self-sak-ruh-fish-uh l, self-] (Show IPA), adjective
  3. self-sacrificing, adjective
  4. self-sacrificingly, adverb
  5. self-sacrificingness, noun

Self sacrifice. The Christ is the only human to have actually self-sacrificed himself for the wellbeing of the human race and since he was a tri-god it cannot be compared against the abilities of lesser mortals. All others who serve pale in comparison, yet that is the quintessential quality of ‘Service’. Therefore, my problem with politicians comes when they place their own personal goals ahead of the common good. When Party, hubris, and winning the election become so paramount that all other concerns fade into the background. Why is winning so damn important?

I have been engaged in several online discussions today about the possibility of a split progressive vote between liberals from several Parties. There is a rare, yet distinct possibility that Greens, HRC supporters and Bernie-ites could split the vote in 2016 so that a Trump victory becomes a reality. (See the four articles at the end of this post) I hold the opinion that those who have virtually no chance of winning the 2016 Presidential Election should, for the good of the Nation, drop out and request that their supporters get behind the candidate with the best chance of winning, whoever that turns out to be. I know that is a great sacrifice and that it goes against our competitive instincts; however, it is the right thing to do. IMHO

The Harvard Crimson

The Atlantic

Sparknotes

The Washington Post