Thrift Shops

Everyone loves shopping. It helps to have money when shopping, the more the better. Thrift Stores give poorer citizens a chance to shop for almost anything. Compared to ‘regular stores’, thrift shops are poorly lit, and without fancy presentations of items. The ‘sex appeal’ of shopping is much minimized. Unless, of course, one considers ‘thrift’ sexy, which I think it is somewhat. It’s a matter of appreciating economy, parsimoniousness. What I like most about thrift shops is leaving them, and then appreciating how, for so little money, one can get so much good stuff.

Dr. Seuss Cancelled

It finally happened. The wonderful Dr. Seuss books have been cited for racism. One of his cartoons showed a Chinaman eating rice with chopsticks. As a Jew, I would not be offended by a cartoon of a Jew eating matzoh. This is what we do. It is an accurate stereotype. Though not all Jews eat matzoh nor do all Chinese use chopsticks, many or most do. Microaggression is when another assumes something about someone else (e.g., he likes matzoh or uses chopsticks) that the other does not agree with (e.g., I don’t like matzoh). Maybe people should not be “cancelled” due to having committed microaggressions. The ‘micro’ is the issue. Give the guy a break.

Tracking

The other day I wrote a blog about old sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Since then I have been blasted with ads for videos, toys, recordings, etc. related to the movie. Certainly, marketers are watching me and everyone else. It causes us to think about things longer than we wished to. Others with their own motives want us to keep thinking of a past thing so that they can predict and control our buying habits in the immediate future. I wonder how this affects the creativity of the society. It reminds me of the fact that machines beat humans every time now at chess. The competition is between the programmers of the game software. So, can you make your own decisions or are they being gamed by professionals who rarely lose? The only way to know is to cut off from internet influence. (You may need to drink more than usual).

First Class Citizen, Second Class Citizen

My sister just went to get hearing aids. She could get two of the best ones that the technician said, “filter out noise better”. The next level of quality was “it works okay”. She could have good enough ($1400), or First Class ($2100) hearing with two new hearing aids.

The inclusion of services that make something first rather than second or third class allows the higher class person to feel good about him or herself. They are ‘above the fray’. Life can be a quality experience if one can pay. At least I can strive to get into first class. Get education, a better job, and so on. If there is some class mobility things are sort of okay. Without it, however, frustrations with class limitations grow. We will see what happens over the next years perhaps in America and the rest of the world.

Stopping to Start Over

In the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, remade 2008), visiting spaceman Klaatu and Gort, his robot, had made the earth stand still by turning off all electricity for 30 minutes, to warn mankind that if it did not submit to atomic disarmament, Gort would destroy the earth.  But Klaatu thought it best to give earth some time before he destroyed it.

After Klaatu had been shot and injured he had his girlfriend, Patricia Neal, say to Gort “Klaatu Barada Nicktu”. Presumably this was an instruction to the robot to come and help Klaatu. In any case, Gort did not destroy the earth. He and Klaatu would give its inhabitants some time to get things together after having stopped everything for a few minutes. Is this where we are with Covid, global warming, polarized politics, and extreme lunatics like QAnon? Everything had seemed to stop when the capital was breached on Jan 6. It had all been so eerie quiet with covid lock downs. But now the Trump lunatic fringe had played their last card (for a while at least). Energy use including electricity declined. Hey! The Earth Stood, more or less, Still.

Betrayal

Trumpf built his entire administration upon demanding unctuous loyalty from his allies and now finds himself wounded by what he sees as their shabby betrayal of him. He is entirely without integrity, using one standard for assessing the self and another for judging others depending on egoistic motives. This sort of switch can occur more or less consciously. When mental habits are very strong little conscious effort is needed to have them be executed. Hence, they playout more or less automatically.

Should the duplicity become apparent to the self one can use rationalization to feel better (i.e. cognitive dissonance reduction operations). These include: Coming to believe more strongly than ever that one’s positions are right, and denigrating the others as themselves being without integrity. When the treasonous person really starts to lose it they can have psychotic delusions of grandeur that go beyond the distortions of dissonance reduction. Psychosis is the Big Leagues of psychological defense. (By the way when Trump was thought to say ‘Bigly’ he was saying ‘Big League’ in New Yawkese. Few if any seem to have noted this).

In any case, leaders set examples of ‘how to think’ for followers. Currently a bit less than half your neighbors think like Trumpf. The horror of this is illustrated by seeing the ten commandments through the eyes of Trump-like thinking:

The Ten Commandments as seen by a Trump personality

  1. I am the Lord your God (“I am a stable genius.” )
  2. You shall have no other gods before me (“I will be very angry at Mike Pence if he doesn’t listen to me.”)
  3. You shall not take my name in vain (Say whatever comes to mind. Be wild and impulsive.)
  4. Observe the Sabbath (“Kosher, Shmosher. Let’s play golf!”)
  5. Honor your father and mother (If they have given you millions of dollars.)
  6. You shall not kill (Have your followers do it for you.)
  7. You shall not steal (Stealing assures always winning)
  8. You shall not commit adultery (Why not?)
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (“To hell with fake news. They always lie about me. It’s a witch hunt”.)
  10. You shall not be envious of what your neighbor has (“Envy and greed are good…the Dow has hit records during my reign!!”)

The ‘Congress Riots’ were Reality TV

The January 6th invasion of the congress is being described in grave tones as: ‘The most dastardly day in US history’;’ Our country’s worst hour’; ‘The greatest threat to democracy’, and so on. The deaths and the scenes of yahoos defiling the nation’s sacred space were nauseating. But at some level it was just another day in Reality TV America.

January 6th wasn’t the French, Russian, nor American Revolution. In those real government overthrow attempts, the actors actually had some values they were interested in risking their lives for. Did Trumpf put his life at risk? No he didn’t. He ‘fought’ like a TV wrestler fights. Trumpf wasn’t even there in the front lines with his admirers but back in the White House watching things on TV. The Congress Riot Actors wore wild costumes like the TV wrestlers do. The whole thing was another meaningless act in the last 40 years of The American Howdy Doody Show . It will likely inspire hope that things will change. But will they?

Ventriloquist’s dummies’ appear to have meaningful conversations if the audience imagines the dummy is real. Anyone who has taken Trumpf seriously, who thinks him real, is the dummy. Do you take him seriously? Seriously? Yes? YOUR’E FIRED!!! I think a Trumpf mob member’s greatest wish is to not be fired. To not lose their seat in The Ivanka Peanut Gallery (recently remodeled for 7 Billion Fake Trumpf Peanut Dollars ). They would be so alone then. So sad. Not merely not great again but having never been great even once.

The only beliefs or values at issue in the Trumpf Show have to do with stage craft. The art of making others ‘suspend disbelief’ and getting good ratings. Trumpf’s stage craft is limited to getting unsophisticated fans of TV wrestling and 80% of the people living in Red States to believe patently false absurdities. It has been TV wrestling and The Three Stooges since day one with Trumpf. Reverse Birther Theory even proves that Trumpf is the formerly unknown Fifth Stooge—Donald Fine Trumpf.

Denial, Lies, Cyberwar, Conscious and Unconscious

For forty years Republicans have claimed to be fiscal conservatives. But obviously they have not been. No one in recent memory besides Clinton has balanced the budget. Gullible people near poverty vote for conservatives! Besides the seeming match in social values, conservatives are no friends of the needy and, their claims of being helpful to those in need are so hollow.

Why then do those they don’t support, support them? I think it is a form of denial. Being poor in America is a sin. Those who are barely making it fantasize they are part of the middle class. As the middle class disappears, those without think they are not without, and use credit cards to support the denial (until bankrupt). Such individuals are easy prey to politicians who fed them blatantly untrue claims encouraging them to be proud middle class citizens. It is the big lie. The most powerful, stupid lies go over best: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery and so on.

The manipulation of meaning has become easier with the rise of information technology. Warfare, including cyberwar, has always included the notion that killing leaders is the surest way to win battle. That is, cutting off the enemies’ head leads to victory. The “head” is a shorthand for “thinking”. Bodies are destroyed to kill the brain and mind. Body damage is collateral damage.

It is now apparent that Russia has hacked the hell out of the US computer infrastructure. They have co-opted the nervous system of America. Specifically, they have hacked the automatic information processes that run the country. This is analogous to having taken control of the Autonomic Nervous System, the part of the nervous system that runs the organs of the body, out of awareness mostly. The Central Nervous System which includes the brain, is the target for influencing beliefs, for propaganda. The brain is the seat of conscious thinking. Attempts to alter conscious thoughts must be much more sophisticated than usurping automatic processes. Changing beliefs from the bottom up avoids barriers such as morality, feeling, and logical thought as means to fool people with big and little lies.

The current method of warlike influence seeks to avoid the resistances to belief change within the self. It subverts the self from the unconsous at a point where meaning is not questioned. “Is that information from my body (my computer infrastructure) true? If it isn’t, who can be trusted to provide valid data?” In the very near future, we will be wishing that the worst dangerous liar we had was Trump. Instead, we will have to question whether the information coming to us from our bodies, computers, and the social world have anything to do with the truth.

Dating in the 21st Century

People meet others today online, in bars, and the old fashioned way, thru friends. On dating sites, all sorts of algorithms are used to match people together. It is a high tech method to make more efficient the pairing process. So, these methods skip over “natural” ways people make decisions about whom they wish to affiliate. In bars and other more or less natural settings in which people still meet in the 3D world, they still need to make decisions: Who to approach? What to say? Will they like me?

Is there a way to combine the power of data processed by computers with data gained in real time? The widespread use of biofeedback apps worn by daters can measure one’s physiological response to another person. Does my body indicate liking for the other? Am I in the right mental and physical state to make a decision about them? If the other person has access to such data and the biology matches up, a match might be made on the basis of high tech even in a natural settting.

Given the rapid surge in biofeedback apps it should not be surprising to learn that such devices exist. They might be worn on the wrist in an Apple iWatch for instance. This allows users to unobtrusively gaze at the watch to make the critical decisions about approach and avoidance. One such device is the Body-Mind reader. Tap the links below to see what it is like.

https://kickstarter.com/projects/402184652/body-mind-reader-biofeedback-app-a-mood-ring-that-works

Device Home – Body-Mind Health (williambernstein.com)