A Double Plus

I’ve been reading about the impending disaster awaiting us if climate warming isn’t actively addressed. Along with renewable energy sources more and better batteries would appear to provide a pathway toward mitigation at the very least.

I understand the chemical element Lithium can be used to store energy and has the advantage of charging faster, lasting longer and providing more power than the convention alkaline battery. Apparently, there’s a large deposit of Lithium in Southern California being eyed for extraction using solar power, which would seem to me to be a double plus: environmentally beneficial and an optimistic reason for hope.

Still, resistance from climate warming skeptics stand in the way and must be overcome. I understand Lithium can also be used as a treatment for certain mental disabilities, can be directed toward those who exhibit certain deficient thought processes. Another double plus.

Sedona (March)

A Theme Park for the Disenfranchised

The disenchantment with and removal, these days, of monuments to past figures of note whose behaviors, in retrospect, are being found wanting has me in mind of a recent trip I took to eastern Europe. After the fall of the Soviet Union a massive effort to remove the statuary of the communist elite found in most every village led to the creation of a ‘theme park’ near Vilnius in Lithuania. Large scale sculptures of Lenin, Stalin and lesser known figures were situated in a park-like setting with walking paths inviting public viewing. With apparent tongue-in-cheek the park’s designers circled the figures within a moat, high barbed wire fence and guard towers. It is an attempt, I suspect, to remember their past in a proper context.

Disinformation, Rumor and Gossip

I’ve been reading lately about the perpetuation of disinformation that social media has allowed to spread quickly and widely these days. Sometimes, deliberately conjured false narratives based on non-existent facts and perpetrated by bad actors are sought out for various reasons from entertainment to reinforcement of intuited beliefs of deep state conspiracy.

It occurs to me the inclination for many of us to spread gossip is ingrained behavior. Intentions are not necessarily malevolent, but, even so, rumors that may start harmlessly: interpretations of neighborly idiosyncrasies, maybe, have always had the potential to devolve into dangerous fictions that may cause great harm: thousands of ‘witches’ were burned or hung across Europe in the 16th century, rumor and innuendo have led to the demonization of minority communities today and on-line threats of rape and murder directed toward victims of disinformation are commonplace.

Whether those guilty of spreading disinformation are fear driven or just mean-spirited it’s hard to take a liberal stance on speech freedoms while aware of the potential harms rumor, gossip and disinformation can cause.

Family Visit

I spent some time with my siblings recently whom I haven’t seen for more than a year. Our relationships have always been congenial and remain so even though our political views and religious beliefs have diverged, become nearly polar oppositional. We each harbor, I’m sure, the certainty the other of us is mistaken, has somehow acquired beliefs so unacceptable that he/she is beyond redemption.

But sensitive topics didn’t come up this visit unlike earlier times when we were younger and aggressively confrontational. Instead, we consciously avoided political warfare in favor of fond remembrances of family no longer living and shared childhood adventures.

Still, I know we will all be best served, that our bonds will stay intact, by maintaining a healthy distance in time and miles between us.

The Bright Side of Life

I’ve been thinking about the satirical Monty Python tune ‘Always look on the Bright Side of Life’. The song comes to mind because I’m finding myself in quite the opposite situation lately: entertaining a dark humor. Being aware of the need to lighten up before I descend too far into the abyss, Eric Idle and the gang, always quick with dark humor of their own temper my daily diet of the news, the knowledge of world events that are consistently quite the opposite of enlightening.

Putting things into perspective, not wanting to totally abandon reality, the boys continue; ‘always look on the bright side of death’, informing us ‘we come from nothing, return to nothing, what’s lost’. And if humor doesn’t lighten one up whistling might help.

Embedded Evil

I’ve been reading accounts, lately, some fictional, some non, of man’s inhumanity to man. Myriad examples abound on various media outlets; news of heinous acts perpetrated by religious zealots and alienated loners among others.

Usually when real bullets or knives are involved, we’re exposed to such malevolence in video offerings that carry a warning of disturbing content of particularly vile acts to prepare us sensitive viewers for what’s to come (which, I suspect, is a real attention grabber) and, when it comes to the fictional realm is choreographed with accompanying soundtrack resulting in glorification, romanticizing the obscenities.

The accounts of wicked behavior I find most disturbing, though, are in the form of written narrative where description can be presented unedited and without censorship, where behaviors so hateful and vile, described in vivid detail, have the potential to burn the obscene imagery into one’s mind.

So, I’m wondering, does consuming knowledge of wicked and vile acts anesthetize, numb one’s sensibilities making the horrors presented more tolerable? Can descriptions of vile acts so horrific that knowledge of them become embedded within the mind of the reader, alter his/her countenance?

I’m thinking we may need to temper our media consumption sometimes, pay attention to the good happening in the world, you know, seek the lighter side. I suspect some research may be involved.

Black and White

I’ve been thinking, for some time, about the polarized political narrative these days. I guess the divisiveness isn’t so surprising given the sensationalistic clickbait that crops up on everyone’s phone, algorithmically modified to enhance the political inclinations of the viewer/listener and further exacerbated by politicos anxious to feed from the populist trough.

Ok; so maybe the news I’m being fed has got me thinking in black and white. Maybe I should be seeking and finding the nuances necessary to exchange diverse ideas in a constructive manner with those who hold views I consider abhorrent. Maybe my world is the simplistic one. I’ll work on it. Still, I do like the clarity of black birds on white snow.

Mumbo Jumbo

In these divisive times of disparate beliefs and alternate realities it seems reasonable to weigh with care one’s personal offerings on subjects of controversy. Strong opinions will arise inevitably in all of us paying attention to the political narrative these days, our chosen news feeds providing us with sound bites of ‘logical’ support for our irrefutable truths. Voicing opinion may best be tempered in the interests of momentary calm, but such a stance seems rarely practiced.

I’ve been reading about the concept of Mumbo Jumbo, an adaptable personage in the traditional cultures of Central Africa. When conflicts emerge, often within the polygamous harems, Mumbo Jumbo may appear with masked face, top hat and staff to gather the community and then single out the most egregious disruptor for punishment.

I’m wondering if a similar sort of magical thought may be creeping into our thinking these days.

Unlimited Possibilities

A beautiful late spring day, sun shining, light breeze blowing, conjures images of youthful optimism, of the immanent occurrence of wonderful happenings likely in the near future.

Now, the number and quality of possible outcomes, many not necessarily good, have me wondering about what’s been lost. No doubt my earlier optimism was swayed by a generously youthful naivete, and world events, these days, are dire, oppressive if one pays too much attention.

Still, the opening into the transcendent ought to be there, shrunk maybe, narrower, more constricted but the window, grimy as it may be, ought to admit a bit of light.

Time to reignite my imagination, I guess.

Impending Disaster

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the proliferation of bad news I’m constantly bombarded with these days. I’m made aware, daily, of impending disasters awaiting me around nearly every corner. Attacks are perpetrated and battles are waged on multiple fronts by various actors, in various ways, stressing the limits of my abilities to realize some semblance of peace. The psychic discomfort I experience from following the news makes it difficult to maintain any sort of optimistic outlook, any sense of an ultimate ‘happily ever after’ scenario ever becoming possible in this life. If only I could glimpse even pinpricks of light passing through the shroud of impending gloom I might be able to catch a breath, slow my heart rate down a bit.

Of course, I’m thinking these things as I sit here sipping hot chocolate while reclining in the living room of my home where I will soon take to bed to catch my regular 8 hours and rise in the morning to read of another day’s multiple disasters.

I’m not sure how to think about such contradiction.