Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Early Morning Mind-Swirl

 We call it the mind-swirl. The phenomenon of waking up at 3:30, or 4:45, or worst of all, 5 AM and thinking about all the things that need to be done in the coming days, weeks, months, years.

  • File that annual report and be sure to have the budget details nailed down, and justified.
  • Finish writing that book chapter
  • Re-write the entire lab-manual
  • Build a raised bed for vegetables
  • Pack for vacation
  • Make sure to enjoy your vacation
  • You're too heavy, do some serious cardio
  • Scroll on social media and see an article that says you can not just decide to be a different person
  • Contemplate if you should subscribe to the Atlantic
  • Find print copies of the New Yorker you have not read for months
  • Decide you should not subscribe to the Atlantic
  • Make sure to channel the loving spirit of your parents
  • Mourn the loss of the last few year's worth of joy due to the Pandemic
  • Realize the overwhelming joy you have experienced over the last few years despite the pandemic.
  • Be more charitable after reading an article about a meal shared between Jose Andres and Ron Howard in one of those neglected New Yorker magazines.
  • Log on to your computer to start working on that annual report.
  • Write a silly blog post on Tom Paine's Ghost instead
  • Are you sick?
  • Is it DayCare funk?
  • Yes.
And here I am back to writing terribly but doing it so I can cultivate the feeling of keystrokes in a dimly lit basement with the white of the computer screen lighting up the keyboard.

OK, I'd better go figure out how to use Microsoft Teams and R.

Bye-bye.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Spider and the Web

The interwebs are not what they used to be and I guess that is OK. Just now I caught my mouse, I mean my eyeballs, I mean my brain, hovering over a clothing advertisement on a large social network's website. Each night while my 3-year-old watches his favorite cartoons I scroll through reels or TikToks or whatever for far too much time. NYU Marketing Professor Scott Galloway sums up what the internet is becoming now in the video below. TikTok is winning and I do not see it stopping this colossal run. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. It is strange to me how somehow we stop using technologies while others ramp up. I can not even recall the last time I sent a g-chat and yet for so long g-chat was part of my daily life. The same goes for AOL instant messenger. What is my point? Back to the title of this blog post (hahahaha anachronisms make me chuckle). We are all prey voluntarily flying around a predator's web. Each day we wake up and flock to the web mostly to see each other without seeing each other. At some point, we had debates online. For me, this has mostly stopped. There is no reward for arguing online so I stopped. At the end of this semester, I saw someone share a nonfiction bestseller list from Canada. Manufacturing Consent, a book published in 1988 written by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman topped the list. I have a copy, somewhere, given to me by my old friend Tera. It struck me that this 34-year-old book was a current bestseller so I went to YouTube to watch old interviews summing up the crux. Here I posted about it. When Netflix came along I was in college and then graduate school. At this time it was a "DVD by US Mail" service. This was great as I could mostly avoid advertisements. It had an edgy feel, bucking a system that traditionally drew eyeballs to the trough of entertainment and enlightenment through television and movie theater screens. Anyone who puts on makeup to deliver you a message probably wants some money in return. Netflix was no different, they were just more upfront about it. Pay us a monthly subscription fee and we'll spare you all the previews and Coca-Cola ads. And now at the dawn of a Netflix with the ads put back in I see the end of an era that started about 20 years ago. An era to free us from the manufactured consent Chomsky railed against so hard back in the 1980s. We could's handle that kind of freedom. Some of us could, maybe, for a few years just out of college. But then Donald Trump was elected. The pandemic came, and the companies wanted all their advertising revenue back. So then came TikTok and Mountain Dew paid Charlie Day to sing along to piano tunes for the kiddos. They were awful but novel enough for me to mention. And now here I am reverting to an outlet that was once my home. My place to spew my mind and feel like it was my house online. It was a fun exercise. Thanks for reading. I'd like to keep going. 
@profgalloway You are one of 1.6 billion monthly active users #tiktok #fyp #instagram #facebook #chartoftheweek #profg #scottgalloway ♬ original sound - Scott Galloway

Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday, November 13, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris WIN!

Way back on October 23rd Bernie Sanders predicted almost exactly what we all watched play out over the last two weeks. 



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Planet of the Humans

Planet of the Humans 

My brother told me about this documentary "Planet of the Humans" about a month ago. I hate-watched it for about 30 minutes before trying to fall asleep then came back to finish it the next day. After having time to reflect on it and think more deeply about the points the filmmaker, Jeff Gibbs, brings up I think it is a good thing this is out there. My fear is that it will be used by fossil fuel apologists to rationalize a same-old-same-old approach to everyday life. I think the subtleties of the "deep ecologist" may be lost in an "I told you so" frenzy.

Watching this brings me back several years to my friend Nancy's house in Fort Collins, CO when I sat with her and other Green Party members to discuss the 2008 election. It was warm cozy and very grassroots. We discussed local ecological issues and bonded over shared concerns for the environment and the rising carbon dioxide levels on planet earth. In that living room, there were many similar perspectives to the activists presented in Planet of the Humans. People concerned with a gimickification of environmental causes to make a buck, aka green-washing. Some had made names for themselves calling out the hypocrisy of local "Green" businesses (like "Wind-Powered and Employee-Owned" New Belgium Brewing) for espousing one set of beliefs and only sticking to them enough to maintain a verdant veneer while engaging in mostly fossil fuel-driven business.

Through all of this, I think coming back to the first and hardest "R" of the three R's. REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. The thing to keep in mind is that billions of dollars flow into attempting to steer the narrative around these issues. NPR recently pointed out that the plastics industry essentially lied to the public for years singing praises to "Recycling" only to improve their bottom line. Doing the "right" thing when it comes to climate action will continue to be a difficult thing. I argue and have argued that those individual actions are vanishingly significant without state-sponsored incentives that make them more widespread. Just look at what recycling is in the USA. We pour huge amounts of fossil fuel energy into melting down and reforming new products from old rather than just reusing them as is. When I traveled to Germany in fall 2011 I was so impressed that the local breweries actually reused their emptied bottles rather than manufacturing new bottles each time. Yes, we do sometimes use growlers here in the US but single-use bottles and cans rule supreme.

Like many things, I think it will take a generational turn-over to change things in a substantial way. But if we all just start doing things the way the previous generation did things then we are missing an opportunity to flip the script.