Posts Tagged ‘society

14
Feb
11

fire in the sky

Over the road


I’d called an end to the workday and had started a fire to fend off the coming chill this evening and was sipping a beer as the fire got rolling. Then I heard sort of a growl and thought I’d check the stove, as it can make noises when it’s drawing well.

After hopping the fence

I got up and then I heard a different sound, the clear burn of open propane flame and I knew a ballooner was right above the cabin. Down low on the creek it was a quickly cooling evening even though it had been 60+ just an hour or so ago. I stepped out on the back deck to scan the sky and it was apparent that my neighbor Allen Lawson was landing in the road as he was making tender pulses of burn to land rather than larger ones to make it ‘over’ the hill into Stanton, Salee or Pardo’s bottom fields.

I grabbed the camera and took the shot above then went out to see if this was going to be a ‘quality’ set down or a mess since the road is about as wide as a balloon and there is new barbed wire fencing there which cannot be good against the light fabric. He is a good flier, and the wind is dead, so when I get to the road I watch him drop on the wrong side of the fence and with the help if his ground crew, he burns & hops over the fence like a deer and drops the whole kit smack on the safe side of the road.

Packing Up - Sis & Steve

Course by then, even as sparse as people are out in the middle of the Mark Twain forest are, we got a block party going. Sis has ventured out from down the road, her husband arrives home from work, and Mike and his wife have also arrived. We all help bag the chute and Allen books a demo at the high school next week, then we all go home dinner.

Now, with a crowd there Allen cannot help but mentioning the “incident” last year where I had to ride bitch on his KTM ’cause I had poured ancient gas in the Beemer for a test ride and it had crapped out down at the bridge. Thanks Allen 🙂 no need to let a good story die a quiet death.

That’s how we roll down here. It was a good and adventurous day, and a very lovely and talented lady got recognized by very few by winning a Grammy for the best new artist. Ms. Esperanza Spalding

Allen, wife and daughter 🙂

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26
Jan
11

Waiting for godot? or valentine smith?

One day I stumbled into owning a motorcycle. I loved the bike but it was no fun on longer rides and it went too fast too quickly. Sensing death I sold it and bought my current ride. The clouds of impending death parted, the sun shined thru and I thought a motorcycle vacation would the thing to do.

..what? ..

Traveling on a bike is usually a solitary experience rather than with a troop of scouts or family, or a troupe of musicians in a van. It would be similar to a solo canoe trip in terms of serenity but with occasional exposure to the irrationality of people.

None of this is of importance to anyone, but … I made the not unusual mistake of opening my mouth one day amongst a group of riders and in no short amount of time someone had begun blogging about “The Rufus Method” as though it were the spiritual equivalent of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’. All well and good as far as I’m concerned, but it’s obvious this blog is a series of posts that must build thru a crescendo of tension with a final and climactic ending. Thusly the posts did build intensity to a soft forte, third movement, and then, and then …

nothing

That’s right, nada, zip, zilch. So an attendant readership is forced to (metaphorically) zip their gumpy back in their pants and go home. Sheesh 🙂

Obviously, reports of Blogger Death are later found out to be exaggerated, the wheel of life still turns around, and things are as they are, so at some point in time the aborted subject will be completed in fantasticus fashion.

Anyway, I did take that vacation. Bourbon Street in New Orleans is major fun especially for a musician. I quickly developed some simple rules, not because they are GOOD RULES, but because they are good for me. No need to chisel these damned things into stones or debate them with burning bushes.

1. When I returned from that first trip I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. That was not supposed to be the result. I’ve finished many a long evening playing drums, and although tired I was not beat to death, there was a renewal of spirit. I have never again gone on “vacation’.

2. I am a bad tourist. I mean to do or to see something just to say you saw it seems kinda superficial in its intent. Other than that it’s like I have ADD or something. I can be bored in 10 minutes, easily. Don’t get me wrong, I do touristy things, but I have no idea when the mood will strike, so to plan for stuff is a waste of my time.

3. I generally dislike restaurants. I hate when the waiteress comes over 6 times to ask “Is Everything OK???”. I don’t like air conditioning so I LOVE eating outside, that’s one reason I like Mexico. I’ve been known to spend an hour searching out that hole in the wall place where locals eat.

4. Don’t look for adventure, it’s just like hookers, which are everywhere. I’ve never been anywhere you couldn’t stumble across a hooker 🙂 Same with adventure, or unexpected totally cool stuff. Like my second trip to our south coast. I skipped NOLA and stayed east of Ponchartrain and rolled into Pass Christian and asked about motel rooms; “Downtown is probably full up.” I found a room at a small place next door to the swank hotel. Next day I’m holding down the beach with a mega-Long Island Iced Tea soaking sun and sea breeze. The beach fills with babes in bikinis doing all sort of cute babe things, there’s even a few guys out there taking photos. Hmmm. The hotel next door is hosting the Miss America contest. You can work out the details from there.

5. Something is alive.

The weekend before my first trip I loaded up the bike with all my travel gear for a test ride. I went 30-40 miles and pulled into to the same Quick-Trip I always stopped at for the customary coffee and Dolly Madison powdered donuts. I caught a smile and then a nod from folks walking in and out from the pumps while I checked my travel bags. I went inside, got my stuff, and the clerk says “Where ya headed?”. I look up and “Memphis, to visit my brother” jumps out of my mouth.

“I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s a fun place” he says. I smile in response and add “It’s ok, but I always enjoy the scenery and people around here when I go thru”. He smiles and hands me my change, we trade ‘have a nice day’ and I go outside to enjoy the road food. There are more smiles and parking lot conversation with the patrons. I light a smoke while I have a nice chat with Rod Serling.

He explains what has transpired; something about the Cowboy Mystique .. riding off into the sunset and how it brings out a something in other people – a hope? an aspiration? a simple joy of the moment? “It could be many things, unique to each individual, but a common thread that sews us all together.” he says.

I rode home.

08
Jan
11

of mark twain and moon crickets

Dear Mr. Mencken,

Your letter concerning yesterdays BAITA* get-together arrived in the morning post, and I much appreciate your catching me up on those proceedings. I had prior engagements so I sadly could not attend. Mr. Clemens also dropped in this afternoon for a bit of coffee & cobbler talk, and we both delighted in your written comments and rapier wit.

Mark Twain - 1909 photo

Having an authors’ book (or comments) placed on the ‘banned’ list is a great distinction, plus it assures that the book is constantly mentioned even if it’s read less often. We all know how much work it takes an author to craft and sharpen each word, and sentence, and paragraph of a book before he submits it to the lancet of the editor/publisher. But to endure that and finally reach publication, then acclaim of the masses, and then have those actual words further impaled and changed by a so called “editor and Mark Twain scholar” Dr. Alan Gibbons, well Mr. Clemens is feeling quite esteemed over the full issue.

Eulogized at his death for “not having written a book that any father cannot read to his daughter”, Mr. Clemens is delighted to watch Dr. Gibbons attempt to whitewash [pun intended] the classic tale to make it palatable for modern youth, or at least those youth whose minds have been twisted by those of Dr. Gibbons ilk.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that you read the ‘EXPLANATORY’ from the Huck Finn into your minutes, since the book is primarily a work of dialect and the word ‘nigger’ was central to many of its themes, bein’ as the word negro is spelled differently depending on how you talked in your section of the country.  No need to quote it all in this letter but;

“In this book a number of dialects are used to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; ….. The shadings have not been done in hap-hazard fashion, or by guess-work; but pains-takingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech. THE AUTHOR”

Again, thanks for sending the notes, it made for a charming afternoon. I do worry about this modern society and their odd way of thinking. I wonder what other Orwellian misadventures will be be perpetrated? And what if this thinking is extended onto the art world? How will they defend something such as this?

by Marcel Duchamp 1919

Sincerely,
Barney (BCM) Farthing

* Banned Authors In The Afterlife

02
Jan
11

ify:7 the tv

TV for the masses was just getting started when it, like so much other stuff, was postponed due to the 2nd World War. It got rolling by 1950 but suffered from the ‘chicken or the egg’ phenomena – not much need to broadcast if no one had a telly, and why buy a telly if there was nothing to watch?

But it’s hard to keep a good media down 🙂 Most of us watched something downtown at the store that sold TVs as they would set them in the front window and turn them on, and the first family in the neighborhood to get a set would get very popular.

Early RCA test pattern

There might be only one ‘channel’ broadcasting in your part of the state and the shows were limited at first to only a few hours during the day or in the evening. It took a while to start things up at the station so the they broadcast a “test pattern” and you had the time to adjust the horizontal & vertical of your picture if needed. The last thing broadcast was invariably the “Star Spangled Banner” at midnight.

As kids, sis and I were forced to come inside, so the folks didn’t have to watch us outside and could enjoy the shows. We didn’t like TV much since it was for adults. The folks loved it, as only the best of the very best were on TV – comedians, dancers, singers and bands, stage plays, etc.

1950 Crosley Model 10"

It was simply magic to see & enjoy things from places you would probably never visit in person, all on a tiny, round, 9″ black & white screen. Then there was the immediacy of TV, no more waiting until photos appeared weeks later in the Saturday Evening Post.

However, the soul of TV was the fact it was live. It happened at the same time you watched it. If the folks on the ‘set’ messed up then you saw them mess up, if the singer missed a note you noticed, if the lady in the commercial couldn’t get the door of the Frigidaire open , you watched her flub up. It was real in the sense that it was real, really 🙂 It was NOW, as in RIGHT NOW.

Not like today,
when you don’t know when a video was recorded or when a web page was written or who wrote it.
You have no idea anymore, as reality has an obsured meaning since you can’t tell if it’s real or not.

29
Dec
10

ify:6 the medium, the message, a mess?

Radio was the original message board. It could reach out and connect peoples across a very wide area. It embellished the newspapers, and the magazines like Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post. Movies were recorded on film just like the personal cameras of the day. News films were shown prior to movies being played at the theater houses. This film however, was time consuming and expensive to ‘process’. TV was broadcast ‘live’ – in real time – which made for exciting shows!

It didn’t take long to invent video tape which didn’t need ‘processing’ so by 1960 TV was no longer ‘live’ but could be edited and then broadcast to the public at some later time.

Understandably, TV grew in significance but was only the 3 main broadcast channels, NBC, CBS, and ABC. During the summers we began to see the first of the “reruns”, I guess that seeing older content was somehow better than seeing new content????

In the 60’s we were sending broadcast satellites into the heavens and soon cable TV was being wired into our cities. It became obvious the we were going to have many more ways to deliver video to more people around the world. Asking WHO was going to fill all this potential new broadcast space was a perfectly valid question. The sci-fi writers had wondered this question for quite some time, and now others were joining the fray.

Marshall McLuhan - in the early 70's courtesy Wiki

Marshall McLuhan was one of those. He coined the term “global village” and wrote a powerful book on the topic of the exploding communication technology.

The satellite medium, McLuhan states, encloses the Earth in a man-made environment, which “… turns the globe into a repertory theater to be programmed.

‘The Medium is the Message’ is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

In simpler terms, I think he means that the volume and breadth of content available to us will become at least as important that the individual news items that are broadcast. It sounds reasonable, if we all had TVs strapped to our wrists, and we had 50 different broadcasters sending us ‘information’ who would have to time (or brain-power) to assimilate all of it? would it become omni-present?

How are we going to filter and organize and catalog this content? What’s going to happen if we create the inter-webs and allow common citizens to create and disperse content?

We were used to editors and journalists making publishing decisions about ‘ethics’ and ‘honest-unbiased’ content, what would happen if that were stripped away?

16
Dec
10

ify:5 why read sci-fi

I actually don’t remember why or how I began reading what is called science fiction. I was limited to books from the public library, but I did see Buck Rogers in the serials played before the Saturday morning movies. Yea, we laughed at Buck Rogers, and the strings holding up the model spaceships, and the stuff that spewed out as ‘rocket exhaust’ and fell to the ground. Gad-zooks – we knew there was no gravity in space 🙂 Still it was fun, just like the early comic books were fun and amazing at the same time.

So I must have gone to the library and begun searching the very limited sci-fi section. I also read every Hardy Boy book the came out, and the ultimate book series Nancy Drew. Boy, did I want to grow up and meet a girl like that!

I didn’t know that sci-fi was not considered literature, it was just fun. Eventually I found authors that I enjoyed and the stories and the characters became a bit more real, and the themes more consistent. Then I saw some of the authors on the news, talking science and learned that writing was a 2nd career .. they were Ph D’s – trained and working in the fields of physics, cosmology, engineering, chemistry, computers, etc.

It’s like I’m taking a home study course in bunch of disciplines (there is real science there) and wondering how these technologies might effect society’s future. In the late 60’s there are very few computers in the entire state of Missouri, Dick Tracy’s wrist device is way in the future, but I learn IBM 360 Assembler while in high school. I take a programming class 1st semester of college, and get hired as a graduate assistant the next, and the news if full of exploits on the “space race”!

So the years begin going buy, and I wonder how many of the fictions I’ve read in these books will become “sci-fact” during my lifetime? And wonder .. could the world disintegrate to the visions of “1984” or “Brave New World”?

Years and then decades wheel by, and I’ve see lots of fiction become fact, seen cultures and countries react in eerily similar ways I’d read about decades earlier, everyone has a computer, our population explodes as resources recede, the computers are connected on the web, and you can strap your smart phone to your wrist if you wish.

Our society accepts Political Correctness as status quo just 20 years after 1984, and the warnings of earlier sci-fi themes are still being ignored. Fishing quotas in the oceans ?, political skirmishes across the planet for water supplies? … the list goes on.

I still wonder how much of the ‘future forecast’ I read will happen and be enjoyed,
but I’m also worried about how much of those forecasts will be ignored,
because the more that is ignored. the more that will have to be endured.

09
Dec
10

ify:4 a miracle a minute

The converter box on my TV began to fail the other day and while the new one is winging its way here I’ve been limited to two channels, NBC and the one from Harrison, Ark. which is the religious based DayStar.com. It’s all Christian all day damned day so my viewing has been limited to somewhat sub-standard fare.

No, I do not believe in gods, ghosts, gouls, goblins, devils, witches, saints, vampires, werewolves, miracles, sin or any variant of these mythologies. ‘Tis lunacy to do so. YMMV

What I see on this Judeo-Christian channel does not seem to have changed substantially since I last checked, at least they want the same thing from folk. Primarily it’s the old “don’t think just have faith” and “don’t feel just believe” with a healthy dose of send us your money. This is all done by folks who are obviously superiorly spiritual, who know what their audience does not know, and must have god’s cell number as they talk to him at least daily.

They are embracing the new communication technologies, own their own TV stations, and are totally active on what’s called social media, so I have no doubt they are spreading their message to more folk, and collecting more money to boot. You no longer have to leave the living room to attend a faith healing, and you can watch all sorts of panel/interview shows that feature guests describing their personal miracles. All told, you can get about one miracle a minute.

The sermons are substantially different in content. Sure, you get the normal droning, all based on that particular ‘view of the universe’ that there is a “plan” for all this, and the plan is known and is working as ordained, and you should just hold on as things will be fixed up really-really tidy (pretty soon) and we’ll all live happily ever after. [que Disney style theme music]

Many of these so-called sermons are strictly political, social or economic in nature, and although they are disguised in religion or spirituality, they are no more than stump speeches. These preachers all want to Take Back the country which has been stolen by the Evil Do’ers. It’s no wonder the congregation applauds the fiery speech, rather than shouting hallelujah.

Don’t get me wrong, no matter what I may think of the Abrahamic religions (Islam included), I harbor no hope of changing anyone’s views. I understand that going against the beliefs of perhaps 3-4 billion people would be hard, and that many have to fall back on “I believe this because that’s the way I was raised”.

But here is the scary thing. If you can UN-think enough to believe in these myths, then when, or where, or how will this UN-thinking erupt in your thinking in the future?

Will you enact into law something that says “Life begins at conception”?

Will you enact into law something that defines “Hate” as a criminal offense?

If so, then the next step can only be that thinking itself is a crime.




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