I was a bit astounded, even in this age of alternate facts and pseudo-science, to hear Kyrie Irving express his belief that the earth is flat. My first reaction was what my Dad used to say when someone said or did something that was ridiculous …. What and idiot! But of course, I know Irving isn’t an idiot or is he dumb. He attended Duke University, for Pete’s sake, even if it was to play basketball. I wondered if he was joking or trying to make a subtle point about fake news, but given a chance to retreat, he stood by his assertion. Several other players, including LeBron James, defended his right to believe that the earth is flat. It is certainly his right but why would he … or his friends … want him to look incredibly uninformed in front of the world, especially when there are so many simple ways to see that the earth is indeed round?
Archive for the ‘opinion’ category
(I do not usually post about politics here, which is why I haven’t posted for so long. It’s been hard to take my eyes and mind off this train-wreck of an election. Hopefully, this post will be cathartic and I can get back to being the realistic optimist that I used to be.)
In the 2002 film, Enough, Jennifer Lopez plays Slim, a working class waitress married to wealthy contractor, Mitch, played menacingly by Bill Campbell . Though the marriage starts out well, by the time their daughter, Gracie, is five years old, Mitch has become physically and emotionally abusive. Slim and Gracie go on the run, changing their names and starting a new life in Seattle. But Mitch is not only wealthy, he is well-connected with underworld types and unscrupulous lawyers. He continues to stalk his wife and daughter, until, when Slim realizes he will never stop until he get sole custody of Gracie, she learns Krav Maga, a self-defense system developed by Israeli Defense Forces. She develops an elaborate plan to confront Mitch in his own house and kill him in self-defense. In the finale, she … if you’ll pardon the expression … kicks the living shit out of him but is unable to bring herself to kill him. This gives him the opportunity to strike her and as she is lying on the floor, he tries to kick her, an eventuality her martial art trainer predicted. Using a technique he taught her, Slim counters and Mitch falls from the second floor to his death. Critics mostly hated the movie, saying it was unrealistic and trivialized the real problem of abuse but I have to admit, I have a weakness for movies in which a woman gets real revenge on an abusive husband, so I always enjoy the closing scene.
Have you ever heard someone speak of The Committee in My Head as a way of describing the assortment of thoughts that can seem to appear out of nowhere in your mind, especially in difficult situations? As you’ve tried to reason your way though such a situation, have you been surprised by the unproductive and sometimes downright nasty thoughts that turn up? According to Barry Gordon in an article in Scientific American, We are aware of a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious thoughts. The vast majority of our thinking efforts goes on subconsciously. Only one or two of these thoughts are likely to breach into consciousness at a time. And if that isn’t bad enough news for those of us who would like to be clear and rational thinkers, Harvard University psychologist Daniel Wegner says that vigilantly struggling not to think about something or someone forces part of your brain to be on guard for that thought. Holding it there, even subconsciously, keeps the thought alive, and sometimes it escapes out of the prison it’s being kept in and erupts into your active thoughts. This is mostly likely to happen when you’re under stress, mentally overwhelmed or just plain exhausted. So, if we can’t control our thoughts … and trying can actually make doing so harder … what is an over-thinker to do? (more…)
I love the internet. I make use of it extensively in my vocation, engineering, and my avocation, writing. I have several blogs, a Facebook account with a page for my blog, Oldereyes, and a Twitter account (OK, I do absolutely nothing with that but it sounds good). I play games on the internet, communicate with faraway friends via email, and use it as my primary source of news. But I don’t love everything about the internet. I don’t like the way young people seem to substitute online experience for real life. I don’t like the way the click-driven culture causes material to be posted just to create controversy. The amount of inaccurate information on the internet … and the number of people who believe anything they read there … make me crazy. But what bothers me most is the emergence of Trolls, people who stalk the message boards and comment pages posting vitriolic, bigoted and crude commentary on just about anything. Much of it is political, over the top liberal-conservative name calling but some of it goes beyond the bounds of a civilized society. It didn’t worry me, though, because I tended to think of it as harmless … I regarded Trolls as pathetic recluses hiding in the anonymity of the internet. Now I’m worried. Why? Things like this:
I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed punch back anymore. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.
You have probably heard by now that Southern California is in the midst of a severe drought. How severe? It depends who you listen to and the degree of hysteria they choose for their particular brand of reporting. It has been going on for at least three years, while some sources see it as part of a 15 year mega-drought and others say it has been proceeding for decades. California governor, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, never one to shy away from hyperbole for politics’s sake, has called it epochal. This is for certain … reservoirs are historically low, some virtually empty. The state has mandated a 20% reduction in water use, with individual counties and cities determining how to enforce the reduction. In most places, hosing down driveways and patios or using a hose to wash a car can result in $500 fine. Most cities have also instituted a twice a week watering rule that also limits how long you can water on each sprinkler station. Here in Anaheim Hills, even numbered homes water on Thursday and Sunday and odd ones water on Wednesday and Saturday for a maximum of 8 minutes each station. I have read that in Socal’s warm summer climate, lawns can not survive that level of watering. (more…)
I was talking to somebody a couple of weeks ago about a friend who is struggling with cancer, whose body is so damaged by cancer treatments that it is having trouble healing from a recent surgery. The someone I was talking to, to my surprise, insisted that the cure for cancer already exists but the parmaceutical companies are just hiding them so they can sell other drugs that just treat the symptoms. I was astonished and said so. He told me he could give me the references where I could find the evidence that had convinced him, along with articles about pools of thermite found in the World Trade Center ruins, indicating that our government was somehow complicit in 9-11. He wasn’t happy when I called him a conspiracy theorist and he insisted that he just does more and better research than most people. He was absolutely sure that if I looked at his sources, I’d believe his theories and was insulted when I called them crackpot sources without looking at them. Even though I hadn’t seen his exact sources, I’d seen plenty of similar rubbish in the quagmire of information and misinformation that the internet and social media has created. My someone is not alone.
It would be easy for me not to vote here in the California elections. I live in an enclave of conservatism in a state that is resoundingly Democratic. Our electorate continues to send an assortment of clowns to Sacramento, our state capital, where they continue to drive this once prosperous state toward bankruptcy. My vote is like straw in the wind. It is absolutely certain where our electoral votes will go in any presidential election regardless of how I vote, and congressional elections are pretty much predetermined, too. The barrage of soundbite political ads on TV, one-liner political mail and phone calls at the dinner hour do nothing to increase the likelihood that I’ll vote. The initiative system, which supposedly gives anyone an opportunity to put an issue on the ballot in recent years has been about bond issues (which always seem to pass, regardless of how much and how ridiculous the cause given the state of the State) and initiatives hiding under organizational names like Citizens Against Medical Abuse. If I just dig a bit and see who’s paying for the process of getting the initiative on the ballot, I can figure out which special interest group has co-opted the initiative process.