Short commentaries on current events,culture and the human condition.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Tube Boobs

A large new survey reveals that only 22% of high school students spend more than one hour a day on homework. 55% (perhaps the more honest among them) said they studied less than 3 hours per week. Of that group, 65% reported that they made mostly A’s and B’s, which says more about the dumbing down of standards than the abilities of the kids.
(Further note: Almost all of these homework hours are accomplished with some combination of TV, music-player and text-messaging in operation, thus diminishing the concentration level.)

The real corruption of television and movies, more so than the overdone sexuality and violence, is that misbehavior is constantly being shown with little or no repercussion, often with little notice being given to it at all. In other words, the abnormal is treated as normal, even as being "fun stuff." For the generations between 5 and 35, brought up more by mass media than parents, these depictions are a strong teaching tool, instructing them as to the boundaries of acceptable behavior.

One of the insidious things about television is that, since it’s written by New York and L.A. people under general instructions to create edgy, exciting characters, the resultant populations of TV show dramas and comedies, are hardly like real people, even metropolitan-based people. Since this involves a kind of symbiotic reflection with the mass of TV viewers, i.e., they model themselves somewhat on what they see portrayed on the tube, than this mass media – and to a lesser extent movies – is creating a warping in the population’s sense of itself, actually affecting people’s behavior in a mostly negative way..

Friday, April 22, 2005

Arrivedecci Part II

You were right to suspect that I would have more opining to do about this new Pope situation.

"Give us liberty or give us schism." That should be the rallying cry for at least 25 million liberal American Catholics. But I doubt that anything will change. Why? First of all, they're American liberals, known for lots of whining but little effective action (see: Bush, the two elections of).

Second, they like being attached to the gigantic teat of Rome -- which comes with many riches -- especially big churches and annual subsidies. As for the churches, an American Catholic schism could have some legal legs to stand on to gain control of what they've built, had possession of and maintained. At worst they could lease the churches from Rome. As for income, I think the majority of parishes are mostly or entirely self sufficient. The ones that need more money can get it the old fashioned way (No, not bingo.) They could encourage tithing, like the Protestants do.

And then there's this whole question of self-pleasuring. I couldn't find anything in the Jesus quotations about it, so I wrote the Vatican several letters, one of them even in Italian. I wanted to know what their basis was for telling a billion people that if they made themselves go ah-h-h, then they were terrible sinners. I asked for the transcript, if one existed, of the channelling or automatic writing that pipelined in from the Almighty on this being a transgression. Or if it was a handed down in a vision, could I get a general recapping? I mean, did some holy saint or pope feel transported to a heavenly field, where they saw someone touching themself, then saw Jesus run up to him with a big stick to smite the eveldoer? But Rome never answered me back.

An interesting historical note is that the first great Catholic schism, the Eastern Schism, occurred in the 11th century, the second (Protestants) occurred 5 centuries later in the 16th. Wouldn't you know that the clock has rolled around again to a passage of 5 centuries. In both previous cases, the reason for the formation of a new movement was the obdurate intransigence of a Roman Church unwilling to change. Ditto this time. Time to move forward, indeed!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Time to Say Arrivedecci

With the election of the ultra-conservative Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope, there is little hope that the Roman Catholic Church can grow into the 21st Century as a vital and pertinent institution. Since all the Cardinals but two were installed by the conservative Pope John Paul II, and any cardinals (electors) that Benedict XV! chooses will be likewise, this is now a semi-permanent condition.

The Roman Catholic Church is hopelessly out of date on social, sexual and gender issues and BXVI, without the charisma and good will generated by his predecessor (Polish, anti-communist, shot and lived, traveled everywhere) will hasten the decline of the Church, at least in the U.S. and Europe. He's eager for battle against modernity, but at best it will be a sad, rear-guard action which further alienates millions of Catholics, infuriates women of faith and vocation, and leaves the Church with fewer priests and far fewer parishioners.

What I think should happen, but seriously doubt will, is that the American Catholics should create a schism. The overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with Rome on an overwhelming number of issues. A startling 74% responded in a poll that they generally disagree with Rome on the social issues. I doubt if there's a more ridiculous situation in any other religion than that of tens of millions of American Catholics living their lives in contravention to the dictates of their supposed Church, in effect as "guilty" people.

American Catholics should, instead of whining and carping about it, just stand back and realize that they're modern people trapped (by family ties mostly) in a hopelessly inflexible, outmoded, old-celibate-men-dominated institution. Then they should write up their actual beliefs on birth control, abortion, euthenasia, stem-cell research, celibacy for priests, pre-marital sex, divorce, homosexuality, female priests, etc., add it on to the dogma that they generally agree with, and move into the 21st century. (Part of it also, I would think, should be getting rid of the silly costumes and hats, but that's for them to decide.) Let whatever priests, bishops and cardinals who are in agreement come along, and immediately begin training female priests. If they have the courage to do this, I believe that The New American Church, or whatever it is actually called, will flourish.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Morning Rant

Leaving out those under 18 and over 80, a little under 40% of the American people are scrupulously religious, and a little over 40% are not -- instead being into the popular culture, which includes constant gratuitous sexuality and paganistic references. The question of whether the center can hold is mostly answered by the fact that, in this increasingly polarizing time, this ever-dwindling center is comprised of only about 15% of the populace, many of whom are quiet types who like to read and who don’t put much stock in either religion or pop culture.

You know how every week or two, there’s a DVD that comes out that you just have to see? And how there’s 10-15 hours of stuff on TV that’s just part of your schedule to watch? Well, what are you going to do in the future when there are 8-10 DVDs per week and 45-50 hours of TV that you don’t feel you can live without? (If you think many people are zombie-brained now ...)

Speaking of such things, a study just released in March showed that the average college student watches over 30 hours of television per week. This was inclusive of the buckled-down students, so that means that many of these kids are wired in to 35-40 or even more hours per week. And this doesn’t include time spent on video games, online chatting, text messaging and downloading/listening to music. And "hooking up." And, what’s that other thing they sometimes do? Oh, yeah, attending class and studying.

Airport screeners represent a typical government enforcement program, i.e., spend huge amounts of money to harass the innocent, while not accomplishing much.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Where individuals, groups, religions and, most importantly, nations, make their biggest mistake is in believing that since their aims are "good," then anything they do to achieve these objectives is allowable. This is the much-reported "The ends justify the means" approach that is responsible for half to three-quarters of the evil in the world (the rest being mostly just plain uncaring greed and/or ignorance).

When significant numbers of people adulate and aspire to be like those venal and rapacious individuals who get away with all manner of greed, duplicity and even violence in the pursuit of money and power, then that society has become decadent, and will fall.

Short and Sour
First comes co-opting, then comes corrosion, then comes corruption, then comes consequences.

Friday, March 25, 2005

So here we have a situation where the country is overloaded with high school graduates who are all but worthless to an employer. Their verbal and math skills are woefully low; their reasoning skills and common sense are low to mediocre; they have extremely short attention spans; they shy away from anything resembling real work. Many of these kids come from parents who are intelligent and hard-working. So how did this happen? A good start in solving that question would be to look at the 30,000 hours that young person has spent watching TV and playing video games, time that totally dwarfs their time spent reading and doing homework.

(More than a little related to the above)
When I was a kid, I remember being on the edge of overstimulation by the occasional Playboy magazine and snuck-into adult movie (back then that meant R-rated). I don’t know how the young ones today can concentrate with all the sex that’s paraded about on TV, in movies, in music, in magazines, and in the inevitable porno tape that they get their hands on.

(Thinking back to my youth)
When we watched TV shows and movies, the good guys always won and the bad guys always lost. What kind of cruel, twisted minds would so falsely indoctrinate the youth of a nation with such blatant misinformation?

The need that people have for authority, for a center of gravity, for a rock to stand on, for a compass point in a storm, leads them to become connected (sometimes irrevocably) to bad husbands, bad governments, bad bosses and bad religions.

Every year for many years now (sort of like the lobster in the slowly-boiling pot) America has been getting 1-2% worse in terms of media vulgarity and irresponsibility, the ethics and morals of its citizens, and general intellectuality/spirituality. What’s been getting better (and these trends tend to mask the declining trends) are the quality of techno-toys, our service industries, and the Internet.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Back from the East

For all of you anxiously wondering where I’ve been, in August I took what was supposed to be a 2 week business trip, to Singapore and Taiwan. This was in regard to my garment buttons business. Well, long story short, I was given the opportunity to expand the company into garment buckles, and proceeded to do so. Consequently, I made trips to Paris, Brussels, Hong Kong and Kuala Lampur (Malaysia). My return from this last location was set for December 30th, but when the tsunami hit, I decided to stay to help out.While away, I kept up with the goings-on back here, including the election, but not with any real depth, as I was busy with business and the emergency relief effort. And, believe it or not, there are issues and events in foreign countries that have nothing to do with the U.S., some of which are compelling in their own right.I've been back for a few weeks now and have been catching up with things on the domestic front. There's so much I want to comment on that I'm pre-typing my thoughts so as to present them better in this blog. More to follow.