Tag Archives: technozombies

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sad decline of youth hostels

Youth hostels have been transformed over the last twenty to thirty years. The physical and structural changes seen in the hostels themselves are less dramatic than the changes seen in the people who frequent them and who have destroyed the wonderful feeling of camaraderie which formerly existed there. I believe that the negative transformation of hostels can be traced to three major factors: the popularity of Lonely Planet , the baby boomer generation, and the smartphone.

Before Lonely Planet and Rough Guide arrived on the mass market shelves, information on hostels was more difficult to come by. Sure, there existed some travel guides which listed the hostels in various countries, but you had to search them out, especially in the pre-internet days. After LP and RG became extremely popular, followed soon after by the internet and its plethora of travel sites, hostels became known to a much wider audience, far beyond  their traditional base of young backpackers. One of the many consequences of this was that millions of first-time hostel guests were now flooding the market and few of them knew anything of the traditional culture of hostels. For this new wave of hostel-goers, it was about one thing: money. Hostels were seen as the cheapest accommodation available, and for those on a tight budget, it was an easy call.

Some of my younger readers may be wondering what this ‘traditional culture’ of hostels was. Quite simply, it was a culture of openness and friendship. Saving money was only one of many reasons for people to stay in youth hostels. Equally as important was the opportunity to make friendships with others from around the world who shared a passion for travel, exploration, and discussion.  The communal kitchen, the dorm rooms, and all the common areas were places where you could meet fellow travelers and make instant friendships. Traditionally, hostels were one of the few places in society where it was not only permissible to approach and greet a stranger, it was encouraged.

I have stayed at a handful of hostels in South America and Asia over the past few years, and I have witnessed the rapid decline in the old camaraderie and sharing which used to define the hostel experience. Hostels may have been able to withstand the onslaught of the new breed of budget traveler and even instill in some of them the hostel ethic, but they will surely not be able to survive the invasion of computers and smartphones.

Most hostels still have small libraries or reading rooms with worn copies of old Kerouac novels and LP guides, but nobody reads those anymore and certainly nobody gathers there to talk. Nowadays, people only sit at the computers which more and more hostels are offering.  The remainder of the guests sprawl on the couches staring into their smartphones, lost to the world and oblivious to their fellow guests and the happenings in the hostel. Animated conversation and the excited retelling of adventures are rarely heard today inside the walls of hostels.

Baby boomers need to take their share of blame as well for the decline of hostels. Remember, these establishments were always known as YOUTH hostels in the past. These days, the ‘youth’ part is frequently dropped and they are referred to simply as ‘hostels.’ Why? When and how was ‘youth’ dropped? Was there a vote taken? Was it simply an acknowledgement of the new reality? That reality being that many older people are now enjoying the benefits of hostels.

I don’t know exactly when middle-aged and old people started to frequent youth hostels in large numbers, but I suspect it was sometime in the 1980s, right when boomers were reaching middle age. Not wanting to let go of their youth or acknowledge the arrival of middle age, staying at a hostel affirmed to them that they could still hang with the young crowd.

Some will argue that this is a good thing. Hostels should be open to everyone and having some older folks around adds a  bit of flavor to the whole vibe. I couldn’t disagree more.  The low cost of hostels and the young clientele was an arrangement that made complete sense. The theory behind hostels was that young people, fresh out of college and jobless,  had little money but still wanted to see the world and they  should have a clean, comfortable, and safe place to stay. Their parents, and older people in general, who did have money and established careers, were expected to stay in regular hotels. Well-off and middle-aged people who choose to stay in hostels to be cheap and save a few dollars or who hope to appear ‘hip’ when they are deep into their 50s or 60s strike me as somewhat vulgar.

 

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.

Hipsters, the fake left, and misguided youth

It’s never been easy to make sense of the world, but in 2016, the Powers-That-Be (PTB) have turned reality upside down and inside out so that forming a coherent picture of our situation  has become a herculean task. It’s a particularly arduous chore for those under the age of 35, as they are the most susceptible to brainwashing, propaganda, peer pressure, social engineering, and the various effects of the media to which they are constantly exposed. It’s not easy being a youth in today’s world.

For those in their 20s who want to fit in, be cool, and make lots of friends, they must of necessity ‘toe the line’ when it comes to their beliefs and attitudes. Youth today are under more pressure than ever to engage in groupthink in large part due to the effects of social media such as facebook.

Social media is a good place to begin. Even though 80-year-old grandmothers have facebook accounts, it’s the youth who spend the most time online networking on social media. You are simply not allowed to disengage from this MATRIX as doing so would cost you most of your friends and brand you as an ‘eccentric’ at best and ‘fucking weirdo’ at worst. And the higher up you are in the social hierarchy (think hipsters and djs), the more time you must devote to your online presence.

The slavish devotion to social media is a corollary of our unquestioning acceptance and  devotion to technology in general. Anything that is branded, marketed and sold as ‘new’, ‘improved’ or  ‘modern’, especially in the arena of technology, will be gobbled up by the masses in copious quantities. Again, the youth, with their desire to be on the cutting age and be with the hip crowd, will be easy game for the corporations selling their addictive techno toys.

Facebook and Instagram have transformed the notion of narcissism from a negative quality to a positive one. In the past, to be labeled a narcissist was a put-down. It was an insult. To be a narcissist signified that you were only concerned with yourself, that you had little to no concern for your family, your community, or your country.  But the unholy combination of Facebook and the camera phone has birthed the phenomenon known as the ‘selfie’ which has brought narcissism and narcissistic behavior to hitherto unknown levels. We see girls, particularly those from the 13-29 age group, walking around all day taking selfies, for no reason at all. They do it just….to do it. Taking selfies has now become an almost unconscious, reflexive behavior. ‘My friends are doing it, so I guess I need to do it too’. Middle-aged and elderly people engage in this abominable behavior as well, sending a clear message to the youth that ‘it’s ok and acceptable.’

The LGBT agenda, marketed most aggressively by those on the fake left, has snared today’s youth brilliantly. I used to support gay rights, gay marriage, the rainbow flag and the rest of that garbage until I wised up, so I know firsthand how easily one can be duped. When I first came upon information about the  ‘agenda’ behind the gay rights movement, I dismissed it outright. I thought the idea of an agenda or hidden hand was just a made-up story from a bunch of disgruntled Christians and ultra-conservatives. But, by and by, I noticed how the gay rights issue was getting an inordinate amount of media coverage; I noticed that politicians, including Barack Obama  were spending a lot of time giving their opinions on it (mostly in supporting it) ; I noticed that entertainers, especially young pop stars, were singing about their homosexual desires and experiences ; I noticed Hollywood coming out with movies about gay lovers. Gradually, I began to see that the idea of an agenda wasn’t so farfetched after all. Sadly, most 20-somethings haven’t grasped this yet. They march proudly in gay pride parades, waving their rainbow flags and cheering, completely oblivious to the fact that they are being played like a fiddle by a hidden hand that has an agenda to destroy the family and religion.

I have here in front of me the most recent copy of slick magazine marketed to rich, urban, English-speaking expats and tourists in Southeast Asia. The picture on the cover is a young transgender. When I  open to the article, I read his ‘heartwarming’ story and his struggle for acceptance in a traditional, family-based society. See how this goes? This type of story in the mass media is not an uncommon occurrence. Moreover, nightclubs here often have benefit shows dedicated to ‘LGBT’ rights. We’re all supposed to come and cheer our queer brothers and sisters.

I could write much more about this topic. I could talk about how the youth have been told to love modern ‘art,’ which is a complete creation of the CIA, how they’ve been manipulated into supporting multi-culturalism, how they’ve been cleverly suckered into supporting a corporate tool like Obama,  and how they’ve been dumbed down to such an extent that being intelligent is not cool and being ignorant and stupid is seen as hip. Even the corporatocracy  itself is no longer questioned, let along rebelled against. Wearing t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with corporate logos is acceptable and trendy.

What can we do? As a teacher, I try my best to decondition my students from the programming as best as I can. I try to put books in their hands. I talk to them. For those of us who are 50 and over, the best we can do is model sane behavior. Youth today increasingly have no one to look to see how to act in a proper manner in a sane society. If you are 50-year-old father of four, and you are taking selfies and checking your smartphone while you are sitting at a restaurant with your family, you are failing. It’s time to look in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

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.’

 

 

Dissecting more techno cheerleaders in the media. Case study: the iPad in classrooms

For writers, bloggers  and so-called journalists working in the media today, playing to the prejudices of their readers is part of their job. This is especially true for journalists and columnists who write about technology. When your readership consists of people who own a smartphone (or two), a tablet, and a laptop, reminding them that they are ‘cool,’  and ‘cutting edge’ will earn you a loyal following.

Let’s examine a recent article from the same glossy magazine which we looked at in my previous article. The author is a grade 2 homeroom teacher at a well-known international school in Ho Chi Minh City. The article is only six paragraphs long. The editors could have made it longer but chose to use one third of the page to post a color photo of a seven-year-old girl with a huge smile on her face holding an Ipad. We haven’t even gotten to the first sentence and already we know what direction the article is going to take. The upper right hand corner of the page has a professional photo of the author, an attractive woman in her 20s with perfect teeth who is smiling broadly. We, the readers, have been set up nicely to drink the  kool-aid which is being served.

The title of the article is “Techie Students- How tablets have enhanced learning.” The author wastes no time establishing her thesis which she posits clearly in the first sentence, stating…”using iPads in the classroom has been ideal for promoting new ways of learning.” Hmm,’promoting new ways of learning.’ That’s a big statement. She claims that the iPad is not just a tool which can be used in addition to books, but that it helps us learn in new ways.  If she means that all the lessons can now be given on the computer with bright flashing graphics, cartoon characters, and games, than I guess that qualifies.

The following sentence reads like an advertisement from Apple: “The iPad is a perfect digital tool for our young learners because it’s small, portable, visual, and hands-on..” Hey, this woman could be a sales rep. The author goes on to say that she avoids using it as a form of entertainment but rather as a way to empower her students to channel their interests and for ‘discovery, creation and collaborative learning.’ That’s wonderful, but can’t all of those things be done just as well without iPads or computers? Can’t you ‘discover’ things in books? Do you need a computer to create something beautiful and meaningful? All you need to create is a pencil and piece of paper. Or a canvas and paintbrushes. Or an instrument.

It gets worse. The author claims that ‘the tablets are excellent for developing research skills.’ No, they aren’t. Tablets do not develop research skills. I also work with ‘young learners’ and I can tell you that their research skills are generally very deficient, in spite of the fact that they spend hours per day on computers. Punching in a search term on google does not qualify as ‘research skills.’ Here’s how most students today do ‘research’ : They enter a term on google. They quickly choose either the first or second entry that appears on the screen, rarely even scrolling to the bottom of the page and practically never going beyond page one of search results. They don’t know how to distinguish between different sources and none of them understand that wikipedia is  fallible and biased.

Checking their Facebook in lecture hall:

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I’m only on the third paragraph but the writer’s insipid line of reasoning and her ‘rah-rah’ cheerleading for the the techno-school has left me somewhere between complete boredom and frustration. Check out this line: “Less cumbersome and more effective than dictionaries, we often use google translate or google images when coming across unknown words or concepts.” Is she kidding? A dictionary is ‘cumbersome?’ Actually, looking up words in dictionaries utilizes ancillary skills and often will lead students to other unfamiliar words as they are flipping through the pages. Punching in a word on google requires you to use far less of your brain  than looking it up in a dictionary, but this clueless teacher is so caught up in her flashing lights of her screens that she can’t see that. And Google Translate? If this teacher has really  used it, then she must know that the translations between languages are often horribly wrong. She’s teaching her students that google is God. She claims that she is ’empowering’ them, when what she is really doing is making them into little robotic consumers of digital garbage.

The author claims her grade 2 students are becoming ‘independent in their learning.’ Wow. I’ve read somewhere that Mozart was independent in his learning when he was seven years old, but that’s the only example I can think of. What does this woman think her students are going to do when teacher is not around? Do research on the causes of the French Revolution? No. They will play computer games or go into Facebook. Surely she knows that and we the readers know that, but she thinks her audience is so stupid that she can throw out this drivel and nobody will call her on it.

Who needs books?

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Techno teacher then tells us that she has her students make movies during class time using iMovie. The students even made a zombie movie! Yippee! After hyping iMovie, she then goes on to hype another app, this one called ‘Comic Life.’ You can guess where this is all leading.

This article is about as one-sided as you can get. It, and so many similar articles in the media, pitch the argument that ‘technology is great.’ Also, ‘technology enhances learning.’ And most of all, ‘technology empowers people.’

Since most parents today buy their young children smart phones and tablets by the time they are able to walk, the author is simply cozying up to them and telling them that they are doing the right thing. Furthermore, the school is staying at the cutting edge by ‘utilizing the latest technology in the classroom.’  Digital content and techno learning has not made us any smarter and never will. I suggest the author obtain a copy of “The Dumbest Generation” by  Mark Bauerlein and carefully read it before she writes any more articles.

 

 

Dissecting the techno cheerleaders in the media

Humanity is on an inexorable march towards transhumanism. Led by the likes of ‘futurist’ Ray Kurzweil, the transhumanist propaganda machine utilizes the media to its full potential  and employs a small army of writers, bloggers, and media personalities. A big part of this propaganda push is to continually hammer home a number of themes, such as technological progress is always positive (or at least that the benefits always outweigh the negative consequences). In close tandem with this notion is the idea that anyone who opposes the new is better paradigm is an old-fashioned, out-of-touch fuddy-duddy.

The relentlessly upbeat cheerleading that accompanies articles about technology, especially stories discussing the release of updated smartphones and related gadgets, can be seen in all mass market magazines and newspapers. There is no subtlety or nuance in most of these articles, no shades of grey.

Let’s examine a recent article in the mass media to see how this brainwashing works. The article is titled, oddly enough, “The Idiot Box,” and I found it in a glossy magazine marketed to wealthy expatriates in Southeast Asia. The author, some guy named Michael Arnold, opines that modern technological gadgets such as the Ipad are great for kids because they give them unlimited knowledge at their fingertips. Arnold tries, quite awkwardly and unconvincingly, to knit the history of  television into his argument and even manages to throw out the epithet ‘luddite’ to discredit people who question the transhumanist juggernaut.

The author begins by stating that he finds arguments against humanity’s overreliance on technology to be not ‘particularly compelling.’ He then goes on to say that arguments against the Ipad are the same arguments used against the personal computer, the world wide web and the television. The inference here is that since all those inventions have turned out so wonderfully for humanity, why worry about putting Ipads into the hands of five-year-olds?

According to Arnold, we humans have not become too reliant on machines and technology and in fact we need more!  Perhaps he missed the story last week of the guy who drove his car off a cliff because he was using his GPS instead of his eyes, a map, and common sense. Or maybe he missed the story of the three men who have died recently in Taiwan after gaming for  days in internet cafes without food, drink, or water. He hasn’t  noticed stories  of kids around the world who literally go into severe withdrawal when their digital toys are taken from them? Perhaps he hasn’t  seen, as I have, people who cannot sleep at night unless the television screen is playing in front of their bed. Did he not catch the recent story from China  which stated that the Chinese government has recognized internet addiction as one of the most serious crises facing the youth of China and has taken measures to combat it, including setting up treatment centers for hooked teenagers?

Arnold says that those of us who question the technological juggernaut have a ‘fear of change’ and since change is the defining characteristic of our age, we need to get over it. Indeed, change does define the 20th century, but this change didn’t just happen by accident. It was planned, and the results of that change have been the destruction of the family and the disintegration of society.

The next paragraph is where Mr. Arnold really outs himself. He writes that parents who ban television in the home are ‘extreme’ and that television was ‘the greatest medium of communication’ of our parents’ age. Television, according to Arnold, gave us ‘unprecedented exposure to human drama, stories with actual morals, and information about the outside world.’ What’s more, those silly cartoons taught him ‘how to have the strength to forgive.’ Now, I don’t know if  he really believes all this or if he is just reading from a template, but this is naive and absurd beyond belief. Does Mr. Arnold know who really invented television, and for what purposes? Does he know anything about Walt Disney and his shady background, including his links to Intelligence and occult societies?  Has he not read Aldous Huxley, Neil Postman, or Jerry Mander? Does he know who Edward Bernays was?

Arnold then blithely states that ‘rather less credence is given to the demonization of television nowadays.’ Oh, really? And from where did he pull that fact? Actually, the evidence demonstrating the destructive influence of television is far greater and more compelling than it was 50 years ago when intellectuals and concerned parents were complaining about it.

Now that his mask is off, Arnold cannot help himself and starts to really lay it on thick, gleefully stating that we (the television generation) are ‘eager for our kids to enjoy the kind of quality entertainment we remember having back then.’ Wow. Quality entertainment?? What is this guy talking about?

He doesn’t wish for his kids to spend their time reading the classics, or going to museums, or playing outside, or doing sports, or hiking in nature. Instead, he wants them inside watching reruns of ‘quality’ entertainment, such as Happy Days and Starsky and Hutch. 

 

No, they’re not doing math or reading biology. They’re playing games. Sorry, parents.

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I would love to send the author a copy of Mark Bauerlein’s 2009 book titled The Dumbest Generation, in which he thoroughly demolishes the argument put forward by techno enthusiasts that Ipads, computers, and smart phones make kids smarter and improve their academic performance.

Finally, Arnold relates the story of Steve Jobs not allowing his kids to play with the Ipad. To mention this story is a risky move , as it might blow a hole in his ‘tech gadgets are cool’ argument. He spins it my calling Jobs a ‘notorious hippie,’ and then, in a bizarre turn of logic, casts himself as risk taker by allowing his kids to use these devices. Come again? Let’s see if we can wrap our brains around that one. Arnold says that he is not following the example set by Jobs, and is therefore going his own way. He’s a conformist, but kind of a rebel at the same time. Get it?

In fact, this guy is doing what 99.99 percent of all parents are doing nowadays: letting their kids run loose with tech gadgets from  infancy onwards and hoping for the best. Arnold and people like him are the worst kind of spineless conformists, cloaking their naivete, ignorance  and cowardice in a thin veneer of pseudo-intellectualism.

 

Marching toward transhumanism- talking ATMs and computers

Recently the ATM which I use most frequently has started talking to me. As each new direction appears on the screen, a disembodied, robotic voice vocalizes the words simultaneously. In this  particular ATM, the voice is feminine. “Please enter your PIN,” she firmly instructs me. “Please enter the desired amount,” she continues in her creepy monotone.

The voice startled me the first time I heard it. ‘What the hell?’ I thought. ‘The freakin’ machine is talking to me!’ I’m no longer startled,  though I’m not in any way comfortable with it yet. I don’t need or want the ATM talking to me. I can read just fine. And this new innovation begs the question: should I reply? When the cool, detached voice tells me ‘thank you,’ should I answer back, “Your welcome”?

This is not as silly or far-fetched as it may seem. Clearly, the global zionist oligarchy which is steering humanity in the direction of transhumanism wishes for us to get  used to the idea of interacting  and communicating with computers and robots. Soon enough, we will be expected to take orders from robots and eventually merge with the machines.

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Right around the time the local ATM started talking to me, the computers at my office started to say, ‘Welcome to your computer’ after booting up. I wonder who in the IT department thought it would be a good idea to add this little feature to all the computers? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if in the near future, other phrases are added to that simple beginning. Perhaps I will start hearing ‘good morning,’ ‘have a nice day,’ and maybe even ‘you look well today!’

Ostensibly, the first talking ATMs were developed by banks to make it easier for blind  people to use the machines. Isn’t that so thoughtful of the ‘too big to fail’ banks? They’re always looking out for us.

 

 

Taiwanese man dies after 3 days of gaming

A  story appeared on mainstream news outlets last week regarding a young man in Taiwan who died of cardiac arrest at an internet cafe:

Hong Kong (CNN)A 32-year-old man was found dead in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a marathon three-day gaming binge, the island’s second death of an online gamer this year.The man, surnamed Hsieh, entered the cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, on January 6, Jennifer Wu, a police spokesperson from the Hunei district precint told CNN.

An employee found him motionless and sprawled on a table at 10 a.m. on January 8 and he was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead from cardiac failure, she added.”He has been unemployed for a long time, and internet cafes were the only place he could go to,” she said.”His family said he would disappear for two to three days on end.”

It is not known exactly how long the man lay dead in the Internet cafe but police said his corpse had begun to stiffen so he must have been dead for several hours before they arrived on the scene.Police said gamers in the café continued as if nothing happened even when the police and paramedics arrived.

According to the Taipei Times, the man was a “regular customer” who often played for consecutive days. “When tired, he would sleep face down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair,” the staff member was quoted as saying. “That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning. 

Taiwan is no stranger to deaths from marathon sessions of online gaming.Hsieh’s death came after 38-year-old man was found dead at an Internet cafe in Taipei on January 1 after playing video games for five days straight. And in 2012, the corpse of man who died playing online games went unnoticed for 10 hours by other gamers and staff.  CNN

Who was this man?  Unemployed, directionless, lonely, and single, he seemed to find his only happiness in life at the internet cafe, playing ultra-violent, and highly addictive online games. Did his family and friends not see any danger in his video gaming habits? Or did they nonchalantly brush any concerns aside and view it as a harmless activity? In  the bigger picture, what are these games doing to our boys and young men, not just in Taiwan, but all over the world? What are the effects of gaming on their bodies, minds, and spirits? These internet cafes filled with young men playing games can be found in cities all over Asia. Harried and stressed parents are usually relieved  to have the boys out of the house and busy doing something, and at least not getting in trouble. The cafe owners are happy to take their money. Nobody pays them any mind, and they spend countless hours of their life sitting in one position, tense, motionless, and oblivious to their surroundings. Neglecting to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom, they easily lose sense of time and of reality itself.

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It doesn’t surprise me to read that the owners of the cafe neglected to notice the dead man for many hours. Why would they? It’s not their job to check up on the patrons. ‘The guy’s slumped in his chair; I guess he’s taking a snooze.’  They couldn’t care less. Nor am I surprised that the other patrons of the cafe didn’t even bother looking up when the corpse was carried out and the paramedics and police arrived. Why let reality intrude upon their fantasy world? Nothing- and I mean NOTHING- can disturb a gamer’s concentration when he is in the midst of his game.

We are losing ourselves to the tyranny of the screen and seem not to  care. It’s easy to read a story like this and morbidly laugh, and think, ‘what a loser.’ What happened to this poor man is an extreme case and his tragic ending made news headlines. But the slower death afflicting the tens of millions of other boys in the cafes won’t make the headlines. The cafe where Mr. Hsieh died continued operating even during the police investigation, with the patrons going on as before. It will change nothing and carry on, as will all the other internet cafes in Taipei. What did they say in ‘The Godfather’?  “It’s just business.”

 

All cars now look alike- the move toward a generic style

What has happened to car design? Just a few years ago, one could easily and instantly recognize all the different car models on the road. Is there any mistaking a Porsche 911 zooming by? Everyone know the Honda Civic, for many years one of the best-selling cars around the world. The iconic shapes of the Cadillac coupe deville and the Lincoln Town car are a part of modern American culture.  Even BMW had a memorable silhouette, its somewhat boxy but still stylish outline a favorite of yuppies for many years. Mercedes, Audi  and Subaru had their unmistakable design features. The auto makers worked to give their models a distinctive shape and personality. 

One of the original pimpmobiles: 

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No more. Something quite strange has happened. The origins of this strange phenomenon can be traced back to the mid 1990s with the explosion of SUVs. For reasons still not completely understood, an enormous block of American consumers had the overpowering urge to go out and buy gargantuan, gas-guzzling behemoths which appeared closer in style to military armored personnel carriers than traditional automobiles.

Classic BMW styling:

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For the first decade or so of SUV sales, the market was dominated by  a handful of Japanese and American car makers. Lincoln, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW and other auto makers kept their distance and maintained their individualistic design mottos. Finally, perhaps inevitably, ALL of the major car manufacturers jumped on the SUV bandwagon and produced their own models to grab a piece of the lucrative market. Imagine the reaction of the engineers and designers at BMW and Porsche when the owners came to them and said, “You guys need to design an SUV to sell to the fat Americans. And also, let’s jettison the design that’s worked so well for us for 50 years and start making our cars look generic.”

I don’t need to look closely at the company icon on the hood to know what this is:

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So, not only did all the companies start building SUVs, they also made their original models conform to the design aesthetics of SUVs. Now here we are in 2015, and most brands on the road are unrecognizable. Everything looks like a miniature tank. Every day I find myself looking at a car and wondering, “What is that?” I then peer closely at the front grill to see that its a Cadillac. Or perhaps a BMW. They bear no resemblance whatsoever to their forebears. Big, flat front grills with rectangular angled headlights swooping in from the side dominate the ‘fascia.’ The headlights all bear a striking and downright eerie resemblance to serpent eyes, so not only are the cars bulky and ugly, they also are sinister.

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Back ends are now higher off the ground, tires are fatter and windows have shrunk, again emphasizing the militaristic, excuse me ‘sporty’ look of modern cars. They all look quite ridiculous, but no matter. The consumeristic, wannabe middle class types will go out and buy them, as the concept of aesthetics is one that escapes them.

serpent eyes:

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