Tag Archives: technology

The disappearance of adult music

When I was growing up in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, there was a clear demarcation between youth music and adult music. On the radio dial, the stations which marketed themselves toward the younger demographic played pop, rock, disco, R & B, soul and heavy metal. Alternatively, the stations which had an older, more mature audience played mainly classical and jazz. Most major cities in the U.S.A. had stations which were devoted exclusively to these genres as recently as a couple of decades ago. Those stations are now extinct, or nearly extinct. Teenage pop music, rap, and hip hop have taken over those coveted bandwidths on the radio waves. The adult audience has been unceremoniously evicted from radio.

This dire situation is compounded by the fact that restaurants, coffeeshops and cafes have followed the lead of the radio stations. Only in the most high-end and five-star restaurants can one now listen to classical or traditional music. I live in a large Southeast Asian metropolis, and I go out to eat and drink frequently. I can say unequivocally that teen pop music, along with cover music, has completely taken over the ambience in eating and drinking establishments. It doesn’t matter which neighborhood, which cafe or which restaurant I’m in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a chain or independent establishment. It matters neither whether it is Eastern or Western food or if it caters to tourists or locals, rich or poor.  The music is always the same; shite pop music marketed to teens.

In shopping malls, gourmet markets, clothing stores, and convenience stores, it’s the same. Every time I open a door to walk inside ANY business, my ears are assaulted with the hideous, putrid garbage commonly known as ‘modern pop.’ Most of the time, the music is played at a loud volume. It is far beyond ‘background music.’ In other words, there is no escape. 

What’s particularly interesting about this phenomenon is how utterly unaware people are of it. Whenever I question random people about the music, they reply with answers such as: “Oh, I didn’t notice it,” or “It doesn’t bother me,” or “It’s ok.” When pressed further, they are unable to identify either the genre or the artist currently being  piped over the speakers. Apparently, it’s just some noise with a melody, but they don’t have a strong opinion about it either way.

At the moment, I’m sitting inside an extremely popular and hip coffeeshop chain during lunch hour. Approximately 25 percent of the clientele is over the age of 50 and half of the customers are at least 30 years of age. Yet none of them seem aware, let alone bothered by, the loud pop music wafting from the overhead speakers.

Here in Asia, Western music has completely  uprooted traditional music. However, despite the fact that Western music is now ubiquitous and that a large percentage of the youth is studying English, the locals  still can’t understand the lyrics of the songs. The convergence of the popularity of Western pop with the inability of the population to understand the lyrics creates bizarre and sometimes hilarious scenes. For example, the elderly who practice traditional Western dances such as the waltz in the park listen to a song where the singer croons about dumping his girlfriend whom he now despises. The oblivious couples think that they are listening to a ‘romantic’ song. The managers of fashionable clothing stores marketed to tourists play hip- hop songs from playlists downloaded from the internet. Last week, I was in such a store. This is what I heard from the speakers: “Hey motherfucker, whatcha gonna do? Fuck that shit, you can go fuck yourself, bitch….” And on and on. I pulled the young kid who was working on the floor aside and politely told him that perhaps this wasn’t the most appropriate music to be playing and nodded toward the families and kids nearby. He thought for a moment and said, “Yes, ok,” and wandered over to change the music.

What about the  European parents who were in the store at that time? Did they not mind the music? Did they find that music appropriate for their children? They too seemed oblivious. We find ourselves in a predicament now where all of us, regardless of our age or preferences, listen to kids’ music. The adults in the world have abdicated the radio airwaves and the wider soundscape in the public sphere without a fight or even a whimper of protest.

I have found only one man, in Britain, who at least is trying to do something. I can only pray that he can find some support. Here in Asia, the battle is lost. All I can do now is fight a defensive battle and pick and choose the places I frequent with extreme caution if I wish to protect my brain from being scrambled with what passes these days for ‘music.’

 

The Problem with textbooks

Few people outside of the field of education are aware of what has happened to the textbook industry. A small percentage of parents who take an active role in their children’s education have some idea, and perhaps some politicians who are involved  in education know a bit as well. While many in academia see the downward spiral of textbook quality, few are speaking out about it.

The trends in textbook publishing affect all levels of education, from preschool to postgraduate studies. Public and private schools, rich and poor, urban and rural, all draw from the same pool of textbooks. They have little choice in the matter; the textbook industry has gone through the same relentless wave of consolidation as almost every other industry over the past few decades.

The textbooks I am most familiar with are ESL (English as a second language) books since that is the subject I am currently teaching. However, I have looked closely at my students’ textbooks for their biology, physics, chemistry, history, and health classes, and I see the same design and content changes occurring everywhere.

First, the overall dumbing down of the texts is undeniable. One rarely encounters a word that requires  a dictionary to understand. In the secondary school texts, the lexical, grammatical, and syntactical level seems to be stuck at around the 6th grade. At the university level, it’s not much better.

Much of the content presented in modern textbooks is thinly disguised corporate propaganda. Textbook publishers are reluctant to divulge how much of textbook content is taken directly from corporate sources, but we can be sure it is substantial. Corporations are known to write entire and complete legislative bills which they hand to congress for approval.  Corporate lobbyists write speeches for politicians. Transnational corporations now control everything of value on the planet, so it follows that they are writing textbooks as well. Some of this corporate propaganda is subtle and woven into the content unobtrusively.  In some chapters, the propaganda is more blatant, such as when biology texts discuss GMOs. Monsanto definitely has its dirty hands in the education field.

Besides the obvious propaganda pushing GMOs , Darwinian evolution, quantum physics, and space exploration, there’s also the social engineering type of brainwashing. This includes the celebration of rampant consumerism, transgenderism, homosexuality, multiculturalism, hi-tech, celebrity culture, shopping, social media, and general superficiality. Parents who have not looked at an English textbook for 20 or 30 years would  be appalled at what they see. Nearly every page of the ESL text which I used for a recent course discussed one of those subjects. Consumerism and high-tech gadgets such as smartphones are especially popular topics for learning. The not-so-subtle message being taught to students, outside of the embedded grammar lesson, is this: The only meaning you can derive from life is through shopping, consumerism, acquisition, and the acceptance of a multicultural and inclusive world. The only pictures one sees on the pages are photos of models,  smiling and joyful in their sleek modern offices, making loads of money which they will spend in fancy restaurants and department stores.  Traditional families are absent. Pictures of rural life are nearly absent as well. The world is presented as one giant playground, basically. It’s filled with exciting and exotic cities which  you can visit on your next ‘holiday,’ and return home with giant shopping bags filled with the loot you collected overseas. Oh, the joys of being a yuppie! That, essentially, is the dream being sold. Everyone can be a rich yuppie, living in a high-rise in some ‘bustling’ metropolis.

Every page of modern textbooks must have a photo. On some pages, more than 50 percent of the total space is filled with photos. The people in the photos are utterly fake. Most of them are models. They looks about as real as a GMO tomato. They’re always smiling and laughing, of course. They’re always attractive. They always seem to be on holiday. They’re usually talking on their smartphones and striding confidently to their next high-powered business meeting.

Do these photos contribute anything to the lesson being taught? Do they enhance the subject matter or clarify important points? No, they do not, not in the least. They’re just filler. Publishers insert them because they claim that students will not look at a page filled only with text. Actually, the publishers are correct when they state this. I once gave my students a book to read. It had no pictures. They gasped audibly and complained loudly and bitterly to me. How could they possibly read a book with no pictures? It would be so boring….

We must ask, though, how our kids became so frightened and/or bored with a page of text. Television and computers deserve the bulk of the blame, but parents and educators have done too little to instill a love of reading to students. Education publishers help to create this problem, and then turn around and state that they are merely responding to market demand.

The hundreds or thousands of photos placed into a typical textbook today drives up the cost of the text enormously. The expensive and glossy paper on which the photos are placed is considerably more pricy that simple paper for text. Moreover, it’s not just lots of unnecessary, ugly, and fake photos that one sees on textbook pages. Graphic designers now play a role even more important than content writers. Every page must be a different color. Oh, yes. Pages must be multi-hued with flashy background themes. Black text on white background, white text on black background, green on black, blue on yellow-whatever. Every page must now resemble a website. Many pages are so repulsive to look at that I ignore them when working through a chapter. I don’t want my students to look at something so ugly and so manipulative.

Students coming up through the system today have no idea that textbooks used to be different. With their immaturity and lack of perspective, they naturally assume that things have always been this way. They are unaware that students used to read books with no pictures! And sometimes those books were hundreds of pages long, and filled with highly technical details.

In conclusion, I regard modern textbooks as abominations. They are filled to overflowing with shameless propaganda, touting GMOs and transhumanism, among other things. Their slick and glossy pages, designed by well-paid graphic designers, are all about style, not substance. Content has now receded into the background. Actual text now coves less than half of most pages and the lessons are presented in small doses so as not to stretch students’ minds too much.

 

 

Five disturbing trends in the restaurant industry

There have been a numerous new trends in the restaurant industry over the past decade, and, unfortunately, all of them are bad. Restaurant owners have proven to be susceptible to all the recent technological fads and have  contributed to the generalized dumbing down of society.

  1. Menus with photos.

This trend seems to be most prevalent in Asia and probably began here.  Almost every Asian restaurant that I visit now has a picture menu. Even the most basic, simple, and elementary dish requires an accompanying photo. Take, for example, the classic Vietnamese dish, Pho. It is sold on every street corner of the city, in every Vietnamese restaurant and in every shopping mall. It is eaten in every Vietnamese home. Yet, restaurant owners apparently believe that customers need to see a picture of a soup bowl with noodles inside next to the word ‘Pho.’  A can of coke requires an accompanying photo. So does a bottled water.

These elaborate picture menus require considerably more expense and effort than a good old-fashioned written menu. The pages must be much thicker; indeed, many of these menus are printed on cardboard instead of paper. Or, they are laminated with hard plastic. Picture menus  are often extremely large and one needs to carefully use the entire half of the table to open it. And because fewer items can be printed on each page, thanks to all the photos, the menus must be considerably longer as well. The longest menu I have seen in Southeast Asia was 70 pages.

Picture menus are for children. They have no place in any respectable restaurant. No owner with any sense of pride in his establishment and respect for his customers would have a picture menu. The photos are unnecessary and are a waste of space, time, money, and effort. In the ‘old days,’ owners had to spend time writing creative descriptions of their dishes for their menus. Nowadays, they take the easy way out and slap a photo next to the item. ‘Idiocracy’? We’re living in it.

2. Big Screen Televisions

Televisions in restaurants used to be associated exclusively with sports bars. The idea was to draw in customers who were traveling and wanted to catch their favorite sports team or watch a special game. Sports bars had their place the scheme of things and I never saw much harm in them. One day, though, some restaurant owners who were looking for a new gimmick to increase sales said to themselves, “Hey, maybe we can get a piece of that action. Why should sports bars be the only ones to have televisions? Let’s put a big screen tv up behind the bar and see what happens. We’ll keep everything else the same, but now we can say that we provide a television for the local sports games.”

And so it went. Pretty soon, every other restaurant, reacting to the competition and the trend, installed giant flat screens in their bars and dining rooms as well. The old clearly demarcated line between sports bars and fine dining was obliterated, almost overnight.

Once the televisions have been turned on, managers don’t like to turn them off. As an experiment, I encourage my readers to go to their favorite local restaurant and ask the manager, politely, to turn off the television and see what kind of reaction you get. He will most likely look at you as if you are insane.

A couple of years ago I visited my family in Washington D.C. My brother took me out to a trendy neighborhood with dozens of upscale restaurants. I asked him to take me one without televisions. He thought about it for a moment and replied, “You know, I can’t think of one. I’m pretty sure every single one of these places has a screen.

The invasion of televisions into restaurants has reached a height of absurdity unimaginable even a few years ago. Some resto-bars have a dozen televisions playing, along with music. Combine that with loud customers and street noise and you have a chaotic scene. Even though not a single customer can be seen who is actually viewing one of the screens, managers refuse to turn them off. They are now seen as ‘ambience.’

I have attempted to talk with managers and owners about this, but my protestations fall on deaf ears, always. I point out that having televisions does not bring in customers. I mention that nobody views them anyway. I argue that they are energy hogs. I tell them that they destroy the ambience of the dining experience. No matter. The trend has been set and now there is no turning back.

In researching this article, I did a google search on televisions in fine-dining restaurants and was heartened to see numerous articles written about the subject. There is a debate about it, but it needs to be much broader and reach a much bigger audience.

3.  Free Wi-Fi

Although flat-screen televisions had already mostly destroyed the ambience of many restaurants, the installation of free Wi-Fi put the final nail in the coffin. Once again, we saw  restaurant owners tripping over each other to be trendy and caving in to fickle and superficial customers who just wanted their damn Wi-Fi! Dude! Owners took the short-term view versus the long-term view. The short-term view means giving customers what they demand, now. The longer-term view, I argue, involves preserving something called the ‘restaurant experience,’ which involves far more than eating  delicious food. It encompasses the entire experience of eating out, from the moment you enter the restaurant until the moment you leave. When a customer is able to eat exceptional food in an elegant, relaxed setting and engage in stimulating conversation during the meal, the experience can be almost transcendent.

The availability of free Wi-Fi guarantees that customers will never be able to enjoy that kind of experience. A quick glance around the dining area of any restaurant today will show more than half of the customers with their heads bent down at unnatural angles, staring into the bright screens of their smart phones, their faces eerily illuminated. Conversation is entirely absent. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends ignore each other entirely for the duration of the meal.  A person can choose not to use a smart phone while in the restaurant, but there is no way to block out the surrounding customers who exist in their zombie cyber-world.

4. Servers using iPads and smartphones to take orders

I experienced this loathsome trend last week in the Bangkok airport. The nervous young girl who waited on me didn’t want to talk at all; she was nervously focused on her hand-held device, using her thumbs to carefully enter in my order, which was, apparently, sent at the speed of light to the kitchen a few feet away. What idiotic owner really believes that supplying his waitstaff with computers is going to improve service? The device creates a totally unnecessary barrier between the server and customer. The server’s eyes and attention are now entirely focused on the gadget and away from the customers, where it should be. The ability of the server to engage in conversation, banter, and even flirtation with the customers is severely hampered.

I recall a rather humorous experience I had a few years ago in Seattle when I first observed this trend. I was eating in an Indian restaurant for lunch. My table was just a few feet from the kitchen. Indeed, I could see the chefs through an opening in the wall behind the register. The owner decided to take my order and he entered it onto his hand-held device. It was clear to me that he was immensely proud of his high-tech way of taking orders. He assured me, with a broad smile, that my order would be received ultra-fast by the chefs in the kitchen and, hence, I could receive my food that much quicker. Alas, I was not impressed. I told him, flatly, that I thought his gadgetry was unnecessary, silly, and pretentious. Furthermore, I told him that I was not in a particular hurry and if I wanted ‘fast food’, I could go to McDonald’s. This portly owner seemed to regard efficiency as the highest goal in the restaurant business.

5. Servers unfolding the customer’s napkin and placing it in his lap

This may not be a new trend. Perhaps some fine dining restaurants have always done this. I’m not sure. But if it is a new trend, I hope it will disappear as quickly as possible. I remember clearly the first time a waiter grabbled my napkin and attempted to put in my lap. I was so shocked at the action that I didn’t know quite what to do or say. All I could manage at the moment was, “What in the hell are you doing? Do  I look like a baby?”

What kind of sheer nonsense is this? Customers now need assistance unfolding their napkins? Only babies and incapacitated geriatric patients should need assistance like this. The servers don’t ask customers, either. No. They simply come to the  table and with a big smile place the napkin in customer’s  laps.

I was in a nice Italian restaurant a couple of weeks ago when the server attempted this silly maneuver. I kept repeating, ‘What are you  doing? What are you doing? What.. are… you… doing…?’ She didn’t answer and continued to unfold the napkin and reach over to place it in my lap. I finally had to forcibly grab her arm and shove her away from me. Really, if owners and managers think this pretentious little dance is necessary, then why stop there? Why not have the server sit at the table and lift the fork and spoon for the customers? It’s the logical next step.

 

 

 

 

 

Some thoughts on The Mandela Effect

The first exposure I had to the Mandela Effect was watching a video about The  Berenstein Bears. Various people were commenting that the books that they grew up reading were called The BerenSTEIN Bears, but now the books were titled The BerenSTAIN  Bears. It wasn’t just the new copies that were being printed either. Google searches revealed nothing except the A spelling, including the Wikipedia entry. I had never read these books as a kid; indeed, I had never even heard of them. So, I didn’t think too much about the issue.

However, it wasn’t long before I came across more videos being posted on YouTube about this phenomenon. Vloggers started posting videos about all sorts of things- books, movies, product names, celebrity names, the map of the world- that had suddenly and inexplicably changed. The Mandela Effect had quickly gone well beyond the Berenstein Bears. After watching a number of these videos, I did my own research, both online and on the street, to verify the veracity of the claims presented. What I quickly found was that the Mandela Effect is real, verifiable, mind-blowing, and frightening. If there is anything else happening on Earth at this moment that remotely compares to this, I’d like to know what it is.

What exactly is The Mandela Effect? It is a phenomenon whereby people notice numerous aspects of our physical reality that are different from their memory of those things. These things can be lines from a movie, a book title, the name of a shampoo, or the map of Asia. People have known something to be a certain way for their whole life, perhaps many decades, and then suddenly they wake up, look around them, and see it is different. This awareness is startling and unsettling.

There are now hundreds, perhaps thousands, of examples of the Mandela Effect that have been catalogued. Facebook groups and YouTube channels devoted exclusively to the cataloguing of effects have been established, as well as discussion groups. The following is a very brief list of some of the more obvious Mandela Effects.  New ones seem to appear almost daily now.

  1. The map of the world.

We humans are now, apparently, inhabiting a completely different planet from the one I grew up on. I say this as someone who has spent his entire life studying maps and atlases. I have a very good grasp of world geography. I know (knew) the shapes and sizes of the continents and countries and their relative placement. The maps that I now encounter when I open an atlas, a textbook, or google maps are nothing like the world as I remember it. South America has now shifted 2,000 miles to the east. Panama has become an East-West country instead of North-South country and the canal now cuts Northwest to Southeast. Cuba has doubled in size, moved a thousand miles to the west, and now practically touches the Yucatan. Florida has shrunk. Denmark now juts up between Norway and Sweden and is much, much further north than it was before. Spain has shifted westward. Italy now points  in a southeasterly direction, instead of southward. Sicily has moved northwestward about 500 km and now touches the tip of Italy.

Moving to Asia, Japan has moved westward and is now much closer to Korea and China. It is far less elongated than it used to be. Australia has moved at least 2,000 km northward to the point that it now almost touches Papua New Guinea and has become part of Asia. This is just a partial list of geographical Mandela Effects. Readers, feel free to investigate this for yourselves, especially if you had an interest in geography as a kid.

Before I move on to some other notable effects, it must be emphasized that this is not a matter of a mere handful of maps being changed, nor is it just the new maps. A search online of old maps, or even a glance into an old atlas printed 30, 40 or even 100 years ago, will show the same bizarre shifting of landmasses. In other words, it is reality itself that has shifted. I have gone into numerous libraries and bookstores since I began investigating the Mandela Effect and have verified this for myself.

2)  Lines from movies.

A) This list keeps growing all the time. Everyone over the age of 40 remembers the famous line from Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” This has changed to become “Life WAS like a box of chocolates.” Again, this is not just evil google tinkering around with online versions of the movie. Your dusty old VCR copy will now have the updated version with “Was like a box of chocolates.”

B) The famous line from the film Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” has now become, “If you build it, HE will come.”

C) In the movie Jaws, Roy Scheider now says, “YOU’RE  going to need a bigger boat,” instead of “WE’RE  going to need a bigger boat.”

D) The evil queen in Snow White now says, “MAGIC mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” instead of the famous incantation, “MIRROR, mirror, on the wall….”

E) From the 1984 movie Purple Rain, Prince now begins the film by gazing at at the audience and announcing, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here tonight to GET THROUGH this thing called life.” WTF? The line was, of course, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here tonight to CELEBRATE this thing called life.”

3) Book titles

A) The famous Anne Rice novel Interview with A Vampire has shifted to become Interview with THE Vampire. By now, hopefully you’ve noted that the new lines in movies and new book titles don’t sound quite right and are often nonsensical.

B) The Berenstein Bears have now become The Berenstain Bears.

C) Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Portrait of Dorian Grey has now shifted in this reality to become The Picture of Dorian Grey. 

Let me take a short digression here to relate an experience I had six months ago when I traveled to Phnom Penh for a weekend. I had been doing a lot of online research about The Mandela Effect, but I wanted more physical evidence. To that end, I ventured into the biggest and best bookstore in the city to have a look around. I walked over to the fiction section and searched for Oscar Wilde. When I pulled the copy of The ‘Picture’ of Dorian Grey off the shelf, my hand was shaking and my heart was pounding in my chest. Here was the hard evidence and it was undeniable. I mean, c’mon! The ‘picture’ ? It doesn’t even make sense! The story revolves around the portrait, hence the title.

To continue with my research, I walked a couple of blocks to a used book store. The friendly owner informed me that he had a large selection of used children’s books. I found four old copies of the BerenSTAIN Bears. The owner was unfamiliar with the books, but when an elderly woman walked in, he introduced her to me and said, “She’s the one to ask about children’s books.”

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hello, are you familiar with the Berenstein Bears books?”

Friendly woman (FW): “Well, I should be. I was a librarian for 40 years!”

Me: “Excellent! So, let me repeat the title, if I may. The books are properly called The BerenSTEIN  Bears, yes? ”

FW: “Yes, they are.”

Me: (Showing her the books that I was holding, with the alternative spelling) “Well then, what do you make of this?”

FW: “What….? Well…… I’ll be damed! (Laughing nervously)

Me: “How do you explain that?

FW: “Well, I guess I must have remembered incorrectly.”

At that point, I tried to impress upon her that it was not the fault of her memory that the title had changed. I suggested that something far more mysterious and creepy had happened and that she should investigate something called The Mandela Effect when she got home.

But here’s the rub when it comes to introducing people to this topic: It’s nearly impossible to discuss it without sounding like a loon to people who are unfamiliar with it. I’ve tried, tentatively, to broach the subject with a few of my close friends. What I try to do is find something they know well, whether it’s maps, movies, books or consumer products,and then point out anomalies. It they say, “Yeah, that doesn’t sound right,” or “Yeah, that’s not the way I remember it,” then I tell them they should do further research themselves.

4) Consumer products

There are now dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of Mandela changes with consumer products. The one that nailed it for me was  Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. I’ve been using Bragg’s products for 30 years. I have read their books. Their names are Paul and Patricia Bragg. Their smiling faces adorn all of their products. I also used the Liquid Amino Acids. So, I’m quite familiar with who they are and their company. And then, whammo! The Mandela Effect struck. The company is now called ‘Bragg.’  Every week when I go to the Western and health food market, I see ‘Bragg’ Apple Cider Vinegar and it never fails to send a shiver down my spine.

5) The human body

According to many Mandela Effect researchers, the human body itself has undergone a transformation in this new reality. The heart has now shifted to the center of the chest and the stomach has moved a number of centimeters to the left. All anatomy charts now show this new configuration.

The preceding list was meant to only be a brief introduction to the Mandela Effect. The list of effects is long and continues to grow. The big question is WHAT IS THE MANDELA EFFECT?  There are a number of theories floating about, all purely speculative at this point.

The first theory is that a certain percentage of humans now alive have relocated, somehow,  to this new ‘Earth’ from an old Earth that was destroyed in a cataclysm. Our residual memories from the old Earth are what is causing the so-called Mandela Effect. Perhaps the old Earth was destroyed in an event in 2012.

Another theory holds that we are now in a parallel dimension, an idea that was postulated and expounded on by Nikola Tesla himself. Readers who might wish to research this further can search on ‘Nikola Tesla’s theories on parallel dimensions.’

Yet another theory postulates that we live in a literal Matrix, very similar to the reality presented in the famous sci-fi cult films. Some kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can, and does, manipulate reality at its whim.

John Lamb Lash speculates that the Great Mother Sophia, written about in the Gnostic Gospels, and known also as Mother Gaia, is showing her sense of humor by tweaking reality and having a little bit of fun with homo sapiens.

I am neither dismissing nor leaning toward any of these theories at this point. I surmise that in the near future, more effects will manifest, more people will take note of them, and more theories will be put forth to explain it all. However this all shakes out in the end, one thing is clear: Reality is not what we thought it was and things will never, ever be the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube censorship heating up

I believe that YouTube is the best platform that we, the human race, have right now for spreading the truth. ‘Truthers,’ ‘The Truth community,’ and all truth seekers in general have found YouTube to be an absolutely invaluable tool for reaching large audiences around the world. However, as recent events have shown with crystal clarity, the owners of youtube and the shadow controllers behind them, are ready and willing to clamp down on channels that are spreading a little, er, too much truth.

YouTube is, of course, owned by Google, one of the most powerful corporations on Earth. Google works hand in hand with the CIA, NSA, the defense industry, and the shadow government and NWO in general. Google’s controllers are quite happy to have you uploading videos of pet tricks, cooking techniques, and boy bands from Korea. But, they are far less tolerant of channels that deal with serious content and hot-button political issues. More specifically, YouTube’s Zionist (read- Jewish) masters have zero tolerance for those who wish to question some of the sacred cows of 20th century history, such as the holocaust, WWII, Hitler, Israel, global Zionist power and the like.

Some of the prominent channels that have recently been shut down include peekay truth, ODD TV, EvaLion, Storm Clouds Gathering and goyim goddess. The excuses given by YouTube range from copyright infringement to ‘hate speech.’ The term ‘hate speech,’ if you didn’t already know, was invented by the Powers-That-Be to muzzle anyone who dares to question Jewish power. This was the same group that invented ‘Political Correctness.’  These terms are Orwellian in the extreme, as well as anti-intellectual, anti -free speech, and anti- critical thinking.. Any forward thinking person who embraces political correctness or who supports those who stifle free speech under the guise of stopping ‘hate speech’ need to do some serious research into the origins of societal control. Start with reading about Edward Bernays and the Tavistock Institute.

For those who use and rely on YouTube to spread the Truth, be always aware that the hand that giveth can also take away.  Have backup channels, as well as a blog and website so that when Big Brother comes to shut you down, you are ready to go to Plan B.

Addendum: YouTube had just launched a new feature called ‘YouTube heroes’ which blatantly and unashamedly encourages viewers to snitch on channels which espouse unpopular viewpoints and go against the prevailing propaganda, spouted by NWO mouthpieces such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, et al. They are getting desperate.

 

 

A Bill Mollison tribute

I learned a few days ago of the passing of Bill Mollison. While few people outside of the organic and sustainable farming community have ever heard of him, his legacy has already spread to every continent and will continue to grow in the years and the decades ahead. There’s a good chance that the farmer whose organic produce you are eating has studied and implemented many of the permaculture principles that Mollison developed back in the 1970s along with David Holmgren.* The theories on gardening and farming which tried to mimic nature instead of subduing it  would later be put into print in such books as ‘Permaculture One’ and ‘The Permaculture Designer’s Manual.’

I had already developed an interest in organic gardening and farming back in 1996 when I first came across the term ‘permaculture.’ I learned that there were a group of visionaries who were ‘going beyond’ organics and attempting to develop whole systems of sustainable living which including not only food production but also sustainable housing, energy production, village design and social dynamics. This small but growing nucleus of visionaries were putting Mollison’s principles into practice in various rural communities and small homesteads, refining and adapting them to fit into different regions, climates, and micro-climates. Mollison’s core group of students from the late 1970s and 1980s soon became teachers themselves and ,through hundreds of permaculture designer training courses,  spread the knowledge of the techniques and theories far and wide. Today, you can find farmers and gardeners practicing permaculture in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America.

 

I never got the chance to meet Mollison in person though I did have the opportunity to study with some of his students including Peter Bane, Chuck Marsh, and the Bullock brothers in Washington state.  Mollison was rumored to be irascible, rude-tempered, impatient, and provocative. Some found his personality and temperament to be offensive and there was, for a time, a split within the permaculture community over the ‘cult’ of Mollison. However, this drama eventually subsided as Mollison retired from teaching and the movement developed organically, without leaders and gurus.

Permaculture has evolved in leaps and bounds since its introduction almost 40 years ago. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, more books have been written on the subject since ‘Permaculture One’ was published in 1978. Dozens of websites connect practitioners from all over the world who now exchange information, techniques, and knowledge. No matter where you live, there’s a good chance you can find someone offering a course in the core principles. Three-day introductory courses to two-week or even one-month designer courses are regularly offered in most regions of the U.S., Australia, and Canada.

For those who have no knowledge of experience in permaculture and want to get a quick introduction without  leaving home or reading a book, two excellent documentaries are available to watch for free on youtube: ‘In Grave Danger of Falling Food’ and ‘The Global Gardener.’

 

 

Why you should never use the ‘shuffle’ function on iTunes

The introduction of iTunes in 2001 created a huge shift in how people bought, organized, and played their music. There’s no way to overstate how profound these changes were for the music-buying public. Before iTunes, music consumers had to buy an entire album, either on vinyl, or later, on compact disc. With this new technology, people could purchase individual songs from the comfort of their living room, and organize those songs into unique playlists.

I have purchased many songs and albums from iTunes over the past ten years and I love its ease of use. I created playlists of my favorite dance music, romantic music, and study music. It was fun and, at times, exhilarating, to play dj and create playlists which I could share with friends or simply enjoy in my car and living room.

One of the functions of iTunes and other similar media players is ‘shuffle,’ or what I like to call ‘random play.’ I have never used this particular function and I never plan to. In fact, I despise random play and I include it in my list of the worst inventions of the past century.

In the days when we used to purchase albums, it was understood by the general listening public  that some thought and effort went into the arrangement of the songs . The band members, along with the producer, sat down and decided the order of songs. Furthermore, they needed to figure out  which songs would go on side ‘A’ and which on side ‘B.’  If they did their job well, the album would form a cohesive whole, a unity. While the individual songs could, and did, stand on their own merit, the whole was even greater than the sum of the parts.

In this sense, radio was the enemy of the artist, as it had no need for albums. It wanted only songs and specifically, hit songs. Hence, radio became something of a double-edge sword for musicians and bands. On the one hand, it gave them necessary exposure which translated into more sales and thus more money. On the other hand, radio chose only the songs it deemed worthy of air-play, using its own skewed commercial criteria. The one or two songs extracted from most albums for heavy airplay were probably not the best songs on many albums, and most likely were not the favorites of the musicians either. In the best case scenario, listeners who enjoyed the songs being played on the radio went out to buy the album. Once they owned it, they could play it at leisure and experience the entire album, as it was meant to be experienced.

Although iTunes is wonderful in many ways, it also has a dark side, as does every technology. By enabling us to pick and choose songs to buy, divorced from the album and the context of that album, we are missing out on something important. To take the songs in our music library and then to play them in a random order, chosen by a computer, well…that’s going too far.

I remember well the first time I realized that I had a problem with random play. I was in the car of a new friend who was in her 20s. She was driving and her music was playing on the stereo; she had a USB plugged in. I asked her a few questions about the artists, the songs, and the albums. She couldn’t answer any of my questions. She just giggled stupidly and said, “I just turn on random play. I don’t know anything about the albums or anything.”

Nowadays, when I go out to a coffee shop or restaurant, I can always tell when the owner has his ‘random’ setting on. The sequence of songs makes little to no sense.

Yesterday I ate breakfast at a cute little cafe that I like to visit. I should say that I like to go there for the food, not for the atmosphere. The owner is a French hipster who imagines himself to have great taste in music. He instructs his staff to play his computer playlist, on random play, of course. So, I was treated to a hip-hop song, followed by some French pop, followed by American pop, followed by an 80s pop song, followed by some rap music…..and on and on. While the owner imagines that he’s serenading his customers with his exquisite taste in music, in reality we are being subjected to a jarring and discordant mess. This is standard at many of the places which I visit and otherwise like.

The dictionary defines random thusly: ‘proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern. ‘ Why would anyone want to have their sequence of songs occurring without any reason or pattern? Why would anyone want to have a computer program choose what song is played next? These are questions I will probably never have answered satisfactorily.  In the meantime, all I can do is ask the manager to turn the music off.

 

The fake stock market, irrational fear, and our manufactured reality

If you follow the news headlines, especially the business news, then you undoubtedly are aware of the recent activity in the markets, i.e. the stock markets of the U.S.A. and other industrialized countries. Various fear-inducing words and the typical hyperbole associated with newsroom headline writers have been employed liberally. The verbs  ‘plummeting’ and ‘plunging’  have appeared almost daily.

Oh, how I tire of this nonsense. Is there anyone out there still who takes this reporting seriously or who remains unaware that the markets are fake? The numbers are cooked; they are rigged. The Dow at 16,000? How is that possible? Under what conception of reality do they operate where the market could be valued so high?

Remember the financial crisis of 2008? Has the U.S. actually recovered from that? Have the root causes of that crisis been addressed and rectified and have the wounds healed? Is the U.S. now a healthy, vibrant economy with strong fundamentals?  The answer is, of course, no to all of the above. All of the fundamentals remain weak. The U.S. still runs a budget deficit and the debt remains astronomical. Unemployment remains high. The economy is supported by little more than consumer shopping which is propelled by the accumulation of yet more debt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost some of its value since the beginning of the year and people are hyperventilating. However, on Friday, the market ‘bounced back’ and ‘recovered’ some of its losses as ‘bargain hunters’ swooped in blah, blah, blah. This is the good old ‘plunge protection team’ at work. We have seen this invisible hand at work again and again over the last twenty years. Every time there is a hiccup in the market and the Dow  loses a few hundred points and everyone starts predicting that this is the beginning of the end,  it starts creeping back up and within a few days, the Dow is right back where it started! So, what about the cause of the original crash two weeks ago? Was that fixed so quickly? No. I have witnessed this cycle occur every couple of years and now it’s become stale. The Dow Jones and Wall Street is little more than a high-tech reality show meant to keep the masses mesmerized with lots of flashing screens and numbers and to convince them that the health of the banksters and the elite equates to their own health. Time to turn off the television.

The decline and fall of conversation:The smartphone’s effect on our ability to meet, greet, and speak

People are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another. A residual  capacity still exists, but it is evaporating so fast that I may witness its extinction in my lifetime. The roots of this problem can be traced back as far as the invention of the telegraph more than 180 years ago but the advent of the smartphone has now vastly accelerated the decline of face to face speaking skills. Oratory, rhetoric, public speaking, and clarity of speech have likewise suffered greatly.

When I was growing up in the time before cellphones, I recall the numerous opportunities I had to meet and converse with strangers. Luckily, my parents never discouraged me from interacting with strangers unlike today’s parents who are told by well-meaning but misguided ‘authorities’ that they should inform their kids to ‘never talk to strangers.’

Indeed, the chances to meet new people, chat, make small talk, and possibly make a new friend or acquaintance  were endless. However, all of those situations where formerly we were encouraged or at least allowed to chat up a stranger are now gone, thanks to the smartphone.

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If you found yourself in an elevator with someone and you were both riding up to a high floor, you may not have had a lot of time, but perhaps it was just enough to offer a “It’s going to be a hot day, that’s for sure,” to the person standing next to you. And that may have led to a reply of “Oh, you got that right. And my air conditioner broke last night and I was miserable because my room was so hot.”  And then you could commiserate with this person. The next time you ran into him you might continue the conversation by asking about the air conditioner. See? It was so simple. Now, I notice that everyone, once they have boarded the elevator, immediately takes out their phone to text to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of standing next to a stranger for a few seconds.

The introduction of televisions into airplanes guaranteed that people would no longer speak to one another on long plane rides though they were a few hold-outs who stubbornly insisted on having conversations with the person sitting next to them. Nowadays, with everyone carrying a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, even those hold-outs have disappeared. Most people don’t even wait for take-off to get plugged into their cyber-world. They cast nary a glance at the person who they will be sitting mere inches from for the next 10 hours. You, the person sitting next to this new species of cyborg, are irrelevant; actually, you don’t even exist.

Buses, too, have now installed televisions and wi-fi, and predictably people now no longer talk there either. I recall riding the Greyhound Bus on long trips up and down the West Coast and making some wonderful friends in the pre-television and pre wi-fi days.

Coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants used to be places where one could meet a stranger and start up a conversation, especially if one of you was reading a book. A glance at the front cover of a book was always an easy introduction into a chat. “That book looks interesting. I’ve heard of that author but have never read anything by her. Is it good?” Your interest in the book, and literature in general, was usually sufficient to show that you were not a creep and could hold a reasonably decent intellectual conversation. These days, nobody brings books into cafes or restaurants. It’s all about the smartphone now and no one is going  to ask you what you are looking at on your phone. Furthermore, when people read books, although they were concentrating, they were still present in the here-and-now world. Not so with the smartphone. The iphone and its ilk draw people deep into a cyberworld, an alternate reality. People lose all awareness of the real world. They don’t know who is sitting in front of, next to, or behind them, and don’t care.

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Because of the addictive nature of the smartphone, people, especially the young, have an extremely difficult time putting it down for even a few minutes. Hence, even if you are able to punch through their psychic wall and begin a conversation, it will inevitably peter out in a short time. The phone being held tightly in the palm of the hand begs to be used. It is insistent. If the conversation lulls for any reason, the one holding the smartphone will start texting or browsing the web and the talk is done. Finished.

Look at people today waiting at a bus stop for the bus to arrive. Look at the poor, lonely souls waiting in the queue at the supermarket or at the bank. Are they talking? No. They are checking their facebook or instagram. Look at the friends and families sitting in cars at traffic lights. Talking to each other? No- all looking at their phones. I used to work at an office where everyone would take their lunch tray back to their desk to  eat while watching youtube. Nobody was interested in sitting at a table and eating with friends and engaging in that age-old ritual called ‘conversation.’

 

 

DJs and their silly, pretentious egos

Pretentiousness is a vice that receives relatively little attention in the press and in popular literature.  Perhaps because it is seen as a relatively harmless foible, and causes no direct harm, academics and intellectuals mostly bypass it to focus more on greed, wrath, and lust. The dictionary defines pretentious as ‘ characterized by assumption of dignity or importance, especially when exaggerated or undeserved.’

One of the few writers who  tackled the subject and wrote about it eloquently was the late mystic and philosopher Alan Watts. In the classic, Does It Matter? , Watts deftly demonstrated how the European/American  aristocracy, along with the military and political establishment, wallowed in self-importance and pretentiousness, highlighted by their absurd uniforms. The epitome of this particular form of pomposity is the military general with his epaulettes, ribbons, medals, shiny boots, and so on.

But pretentiousness is not limited to politicians, millionaires, generals, and movie stars. If only that were true! One of the biggest groups suffering from the disease of pretentiousness is disc jockeys.

Recently I came across a promo ad for an ‘internationally renowned’ DJ who is scheduled to ‘perform’ next month in Ho Chi Minh City. The prominently placed ad was found in a glossy ‘zine marketed to wealthy expats here. The zine is called ‘Word’ and as you may have noticed from some of my previous posts, it is not a rag I am fond of or have any respect for.

First of all, isn’t it interesting that almost every promo for a DJ advertises him or her as being ‘internationally renowned’?  Is there some official sanctioning agency for DJs which confers this title and honor ? I don’t think so. And even if there were, would anyone take it seriously or mention it without laughing? No. The whole thing is a charade. Any DJ can put ‘internationally renowned’ after his name, make up cards and flyers, and nobody will call him on it.

A couple of years ago, ‘Word’ magazine did an entire spread on a DJ who was doing a gig here. The tone of the article was akin to the coverage given to visiting royalty. The sycophantic writer gushed about how this dweeb was the greatest DJ in the WORLD!! and how fortunate we were that he had decided to visit this backwater. The DJ had the classic rich Eurotrash look, with the open shirt, gold chains, swept-back hair,  and bored expression. The writer advised us to ‘get our tickets quickly’ as they were sure to sell out…

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against DJs, per se. A good DJ can liven up a party and get people dancing so they have a useful role. I just don’t like what the job (please don’t call it a profession) has evolved into over the past twenty years. I’m old enough to remember what DJs used to be. In the 1980s when I first started going to nightclubs, DJs were just above janitors on the status pole. They were far below bartenders and even a few notches below the waiters. The disc jockey was the guy up in the dark booth, spinning  records and earning, if he was lucky, minimum wage. He was usually anonymous and had little hope of getting laid. How times have changed.

The change-over into the modern day celebrity DJ occurred in the early- to mid-90s, along with the rise of rave culture. Initially, I was very enthusiastic about the rave scene. The focus was shifting away from watching the guy in spandex on the stage and toward dancing and communal experience. The scene began almost exclusively as an underground phenomenon, with parties happening in  abandoned warehouses, secluded beaches, basements, and basically any venue that could be temporarily taken over for the night. However, during the meteoric rise of the rave phenomenon, something unfortunate happened: the partygoers transferred their adulation of the band to their adulation of the DJ. Instead of remaining in the background, where he should be, the DJ vaulted himself to front and center, and even onto the stage itself, spotlights and all. The formerly anonymous nobody suddenly became a rock star.

I remember when it happened. In the mid 90s, I started noticing flyers and ads with ‘DJ so-and-so’ in flashy colorful graphics. “There’s gonna be a party and DJ pretentious is spinning. Awesome!”

I blinked and said, “Huh? Since when did DJs become rock stars?”  That was twenty years ago and the DJ is still holding onto his undeserved status as ‘artist.’ In fact, he is not an artist, a musician, or an innovator. He is simply a poseur and an opportunist. Magazine reviewers, club owners and festival organizers all play their assigned roles in this elaborate game, meant to fool gullible hipsters and kids into giving up their money to see the DJ ‘perform.’ I actually saw an advertisement not long ago that said a DJ would be PERFORMING LIVE.  I guffawed when I saw that. A band can ‘perform live.’ A DJ cannot. The guy is playing with his computer, not performing live. What a surreal world we live in.

Joel-Madden

You don’t need much to get into the world of disc jockeying. Certainly, you don’t need talent, music or otherwise. What you need is attitude, lots of tattoos, an ability to frequently make (satanic) hand gestures, a baseball cap, and the vocal chords to frequently shout, “How’s everybody feeling tonight? Are you ready to party?”

Fifteen years ago, I went to a concert in San Francisco at the Fillmore. I arrived early enough to see the opening act, which was…a DJ. Some joker walked onto the stage, set up his computer on a small table, lit a cigarette, and started doing his schtick. The thing about DJs is that 99 percent of what they do is look busy. You gotta have those headphones on and fiddle with the switches and make it look like you’re doing something incredibly intricate and complicated, something almost..magical.  A few people in the audience started to sway a bit back and forth and a few more made a half-hearted effort to dance. The rest of the audience appeared confused and not knowing what else to do, watched the guy on stage staring at his computer and smoking a Marlboro. I stood in disbelief, wondering how the Fillmore, the band, and the promoter couldn’t manage to get a real band to open the performance.

When I watch Henry Rollins’ spoken word performances, I sometimes think, ‘Wow, he’s really sounding like an embittered, middle-aged man.” But hey, sometimes I sound like an embittered, middle-aged man too, so it’s ok. Plus, Henry and I grew up in the same neighborhood, and I like his take on a number of subjects, including DJs. He has nothing but contempt for them, especially the pretentious European variety, and I love it when he fixes his gaze at an imaginary DJ and says, “Hey dude, you’re a record- player, player. Get over yourself. You’re not a musician. You simply borrowed someone else’s music (and sweat), sampled it on your macintosh and then got up on stage.” Those aren’t his exact words, but it’s close enough. Right on, Henry.