The Carousel of Progress

NOTE: This entry is a trip down memory lane, but be warned: At the end it gets political. As a result, I’ve disabled comments for this post. If you disagree with anything here, the Web is open – write your own blog. I have nothing against respectful dialog, but the Internet being what it is, I have no time for trolls.

progress

I first encountered this lovely exhibit when I attended the New York World’s Fair in 1965. Of all the presentations at the Expo (aside from the food – Belgian waffles, mmm) – along with the Picturephone demonstration, this is the one that stuck in my mind.

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After the fair closed, the ride was moved to Disneyland, where I experienced it again, and thereafter found a home in Disney World in Florida, which we visited just last week. It was lovely to reminisce.

Carousel 1

The 1900s. Life couldn’t be better with all the modern conveniences like gas lamps… and soon they’re supposed to have electric lights in the house!

As with anything, the ride did get a few updates over the years:

Carousel 2

Notice in this version it’s Valentine’s Day – and the model has had a bit of an update as well.

Carousel 3

The 1920’s. Electricity and gas are everywhere, and life couldn’t possibly be better. Happy 4th of July!

Carousel4

Hallowe’en in the 1940’s – this looks a lot like kitchens that I grew up with in the 50s.

Carousel 6

Christmas in the 1960s – this tableau has now been supplanted by a 21st-Century version – in the back is a view of Disney’s model city of the future, part of the original idea behind EPCOT (Experimental Planned Community of Tomorrow). Which, unfortunately, because our nation has been focused on flinging its precious human and material resources into unwinnable and futile conflict, has yet to become a reality – despite that dream.

Carousel 5

Another view of the 1960s.

Carousel 7

The 21st Century – (click for a larger view). Most of what you see here is now real, including much better graphics on Virtual Reality devices.

Carousel 8

If our 45th president and the climate-change deniers have their way, it might be necessary to replace the last tableau with one like this.

There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day
There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away

Man has a dream and that’s the start
He follows his dream with mind and heart
And when it becomes a reality
It’s a dream come true for you and me

The only dream of our current “leaders” seems to be to violate the planet, exterminate the poor and the different, and add to the bottom line of the wealthy. I do not support this, I will not support this, I will not be silent – or I will never be able to look my children and grandchildren in the eye with honor.

Resist
The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Shame at America’s Borders

Yesterday on February 27th, the New Yorker published a piece about the ordeal of Mem Fox, a well-known Australian author of children’s books, who was coming to the US to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Wisconsin.

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Read the article. You should hear her own account of the events – but I suspect it doesn’t do justice to what Ms. Fox must have been feeling – and what all the other people must have been feeling – as they were detained, barked at, yelled at, bullied, and humiliated by “professional agents.”

“When asked for comment about Fox’s account, Jaime Ruiz, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at LAX, said,

“That is not how we treat passengers. We treat passengers with respect and professionalism. We have zero tolerance for passengers being treated unprofessionally.”

Well, Jaime, guess what – that’s how you *do* treat passengers. It happened. It was real. Any sort of statement or apology should include an assurance that steps will be taken to change things. Because it was not just Ms. Fox that was treated that way – it was an entire roomful of other human beings, many who did not even speak English and who don’t have the social status to get on the public radar.

The Greeks have a saying: “Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει” (The tongue has no bones, but it breaks bones.) Your dismissive statement will not heal the deep cuts to the spirit of this gentle lady, and all the other gentle ladies and gentlemen whom your agents treat with all the delicacy of a fourth-grade bully with his posse behind the school.

Another report at the Washington post states,

After returning to her home in Adelaide, Fox filed a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and received a “charming” email in response. “I took it as an apology from all of America,” she says.

While I’m glad the embassy responded positively, and that the apology was well received, I have no doubt that the memory of the experience will never truly fade. One kind diplomatic functionary is good, but to eliminate this kind of abomination change must start at the top – because attitude rolls downhill. And from what I’ve seen, it’s the attitude at the top that is enabling this kind of jingoistic, xenophobic vileness.

Ms. Fox, I’m deeply ashamed by the actions of my government, and very sorry this happened to you.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A Democratic Manifesto

 

I originally shared this as a post from someone at Facebook named Patricia Rollins Trosclair. As it turns out, it was stolen content; the original author contacted me to set the record straight.  Here is the original post:

Some people are saying that we should give Donald Trump a chance, that we should “work together” with him because he won the election and “he is everyone’s president.” This is my response:

I will not “work together” to build a wall.
I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.
I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from countries where we destabilized their governments, no matter how bad they might have been, so that we could have something more agreeable to our Oligarchy.
I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1%.
I will not “work together” to increase taxes on the middle class and poor.
I will not “work together” to help him line the pockets of himself and his cronies.
I will not “work together” to weaken (or demolish) environmental protection.
I will not “work together” to sell American lands to companies which then despoil those lands.
I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.
I will not “work together” to waste trillions more on our military when we already have the strongest in the world.
I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.
I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.
I will not “work together” to increase the immunity the police already have when they kill people of color (or anyone!) who is unarmed and does not pose any real threat.
I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
I will not “work together” to allow torture and “black ops” prison sites.
I will not “work together” to “take their oil.”
I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.
I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.
I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.
I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.
I will not “work together” to increase the amount of nations that have nuclear weapons.
I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.
I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.
I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.
I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.
I will not “work together” to increase the profits of the insurance companies.
I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of an alleged “pre-existing condition.”
I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.
I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.
I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.

I will not “work together” with Donald Trump or anyone who supports him, as I view him as an enemy of this nation and the principles on which it was founded.

Signed,

Thomas J. Gray

I share this because I agree – in large part – with these ideas. As a species, we need to focus more on being human than enriching the already wealthy or killing one another for fractions of a Pale Blue Dot, as Sagan so eloquently stated.

I have disabled comments on this post because I’ve had quite enough of partisan bickering, and there are millions of places on the net where I can hear dissenting opinions should I choose to; I don’t need that kind of negative energy in my “online home.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.


PS: The author also posted this:

Patricia Rollins Trosclair, I am calling you out for your plagiarism. If anyone else reading this likes the post and disapproves of plagiarism, please re-post this and sign your name below mine so that 1) people will see the original post, and 2) Patricia Rollins Trosclair will learn that it’s not nice to steal someone else’s writings and then try to pass that off as their own.

A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets – from On the Media.”

On the Media is “WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Veteran journalists Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom.”

A recent segment intriguingly addresses the PEOTUS’ twitter-storm, and how the media should appropriately respond.

As we all know, Donald Trump’s tweets have become a potent force in our new era. On the one hand, a single tweet can cripple opponents, activate supporters, move markets, and subsume the news cycle. On the other, they’re a window into Trump’s wee-hours, unfiltered id. But when his tweets are full of half-truths, distortions, and often bold-faced lies, should journalists treat them as normal presidential utterances, or something else? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff believes that the press must understand how Trump uses language if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation. He talks with Brooke about the categories he’s come up with for thinking about Trump tweets.

A summary of the categories:

  1. Preemptive Re-framing – Trump’s tweet stated, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact, but it effectively re-frames the popular vote in the minds of those who see the tweet, thus distorting the facts in the public arena.
  2. The Diversion Tweet – This kind of tweet is akin to the magician’s misdirectional “nothing up my sleeve.” While you’re busy looking at his or her sleeve to be sure, jiggery-pokery is happening elsewhere. A good example is focusing on Hamilton, as Trump did when he tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” In this way, people focus on Hamilton rather than the $25 million settlement in the case of  fraud allegations against Trump University.
  3. The Trial Balloon – Send up something and see how the public reacts, so you’ll know what to do in the future. When Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he watched to see how the public responded to this idea; in this case there was a brief discussion about nuclear policy which quickly faded from the public consciousness.
  4. Deflection – In which you attack the messenger. After being pointedly called out by Meryl Streep for mocking a disabled reporter, Trump attacked the messenger: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!The video is out there; no matter how much he denies it, Trump’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than cruel mockery of a man’s afflictions – but attacking Ms. Streep, one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of this generation, deflect’s the public’s view from the issue at hand. This was also evident as Trump attacked Buzzfeed, CNN, and the BBC around reports on the supposed Russian dossier.

Lastly, Lakoff presents an example of a Trump tweet that uses all four strategies at once:

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

  • Pre-emptive framing: “This is fake news.”
  • Diversion – Getting the public to discuss whether or not this is fake news rather than addressing the issue itself.
  • Deflection – Attacking the messengers
  • Trial balloon – Will the intelligence agencies be stopped, and are they working like Nazi Germany?

And, of course, tucked away in the tweet is the invocation of a corollary to Godwin’s Law: In any online discussion, whoever first brings up a reference to Hitler has lost the argument, and the discussion is ended.

Lakoff’s suggestions for the press on how to handle the onslaught of 3 AM tweets, as well as the entire podcast (it’s only about 8 minutes long) are well worth the listen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An open letter to Trump: Stop the hatred.

Edit: Just after posting this, I saw that Mr. Trump had said something like this on “60 Minutes.” That’s good… but it’s not enough. A targeted  and specific message is needed.

Dear President-elect Trump:

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I don’t know if you concern yourself with events on the ground among the “little people.”
In the week since your election, the news has been full of some terrifying and truly disturbing events. In a list compiled on Twitter by Insanul Ahmed:

  • Students as Southern Illinois University put on blackface and posed in front of a Confederate flag
  • A group of guys yelled, “Time to get out of this country, Apu!” at a Middle Eastern-looking man at a gas station
  • A woman wearing a scarf was told, “Your time’s almost up, girlie.”
  • A Trumpkin pulled a knife on a Muslim woman near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • A white person called a black man a “nigger” and said he should be picking cotton
  • Students at Lehigh Valley High School were chanting, “Cotton-picker, you’re a nigger”
  • A white man approached a woman who appeared Mexican and said, “I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell, wet back,” and threw his cup of water in her face while flipping her the bird
  • A group of white men followed a woman wearing a dress onto the subway, yelled, “Grab her by the pussy!” and then proceeded to do so
  • Students at Wake Forest University were running around shouting, “NIGGER!” inside the residence halls
  • A group of white men confronted a black woman at a gas station and said, “How scared are you, you black bitch? I should just kill you right now…you’re a waste of air!” and another said, “You’re lucky there’s witnesses or else I’d shoot you right here.”
  • A black woman in Queens, NY was asked to go to the back of the bus
  • An LGBT couple found a note on their car saying, “Can’t wait till your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016”
  • High school teens yelled at a black woman to go back to Africa
  • A white man told an Asian woman at a gas station, “We won. Now get the fuck out of my country.”

Whether it was your intention or not, whether you want to admit it or not, you started this firestorm of hate with an implicit message that immigrants, Muslims, or anyone who is “other” or “less than” are not welcome in this country.

☞ And only you can put it out. ☜

I’m probably not wrong to suggest that most of your supporters are as appalled by this kind of behavior as I am. That these are the acts of the lowest common denominator of ignorance, hatred, and willful stupidity.

But these acts of horror are being committed in your name. And as President of our nation, the buck stops in the same office occupied by Harry Truman. With you.

There is only one way to stem the tide of this horror, which will only increase as the bigoted and the ignorant become more and more emboldened by the message that they heard during your campaign.

You spent countless millions of dollars courting the discouraged, the forgotten, and the disenfranchised, demonizing your political opponents. It is time to get in front of those same people who voted for you and personally tell them that acts of racism and hatred are not part of your platform. That they need to stop. That if they don’t stop, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for hate crimes.

You’ve got the money, and for you it would be chump change. Get that message out there.

Do this, and even though I didn’t vote for you, you will have taken an important step to becoming “my president.” Do it not, and there is no way you can be president for “all Americans.” Do it not, and you will reap the whirlwind in a political backlash that you and the GOP may not recover from during this century.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A compendium of hopes and fears

The election of 2016 is over, and the result I would not have imagined in a thousand night terrors has materialized. I couldn’t sleep last night, and put a lot of my thoughts out on Facebook in the hopes that I could stop feeling miserable and get back to bed. For better or worse, here’s an extended summary.

To my friends across the world, I wrote:

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Dear World:

I am deeply sorry. Please forgive us.
Je suis profondement navré. Veuillez nous pardonner.
Mi dispiace tantissimo. Per favore, scusateci.
Tá an-bhrón orm. Led’ thoil, maith dhúinn.
Es tut mir furchtbar leid. Bitte verzeih uns.
Jeg beklager så mye. Tilgi oss.
.אני מאוד מצטער. סלח לנו
Jako mi je žao. Oprosti nama.
Lo siento mucho. Por favor perdónanos.
Λυπάμαι πολύ. Συγχωρείστε μας.
Imi pare foarte rau. Vă rog, scuzați-ne.

I thought on this more than once:

litany_against_fear_by_kubuzetto

Donald Trump strikes me as the antithesis of all the best qualities Christ exhorted his followers to embody. In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote,

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”

If these are the qualities of a good spiritual leader, what then has America put into the White House?

A collection of tweets appeared this morning which lightened my mood somewhat:

George Takei: “The unthinkable happened before, to my family in WWII. We got thru it. We held each other close. We kept our dignity and held to our ideals.”

Michael Moore: “However this ends, that’s where we begin.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Go through all stages tonight. You are allowed to feel however you like. Take stock of your heart. See you tomorrow. We are all still here.”

Stephen Colbert: “In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”

JK Rowling: “Deep breaths. You’re not alone. There are many, many people on your side. The battle’s only over when you stop fighting. xoxox”

Kal Penn: “Stop it w: the moving to Canada shit. Double down on the country we love. If Trump becomes president, we have to get MORE involved not less”

Nina Las Vegas: “No matter who your president is, always fight for education, tolerance and quality. Votes can’t stop YOU from being good in your world.”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson: “I’m taking tonight to grieve for minorities, women, immigrants, muslims & the LGBTQ community but tomorrow I’m waking up ready to fight.”

Jessica Chastain: “The positive element from all this is that we can no longer pretend that we are free of racism & sexism. The question is, what do we do now?”

Barack Obama: “Remember, no matter what happens, the Sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on Earth.”

These thoughts echo what I designed immediately upon hearing the news:

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Lastly, I offer my own signature from the early days of email, one which I have always treasured and whose source is unknown:

Everything will come out OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end.

May  God, nature, and humanity have mercy on us all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

To the millennials of this election.

Reblogging this with the kind permission of the author, David Gerrold. I saw this on Facebook, and felt it was so relevant that it deserved a wider audience.

So … I think I’ll blur the details here.

There was this person who was expounding on the upcoming election and why he wasn’t going to vote for Hillary Clinton. It was his first time voting, you see, and he wanted someone who understood and represented his generation.

He said to me, “You don’t understand — ”

And that’s where I had to stop him. “Look, I do understand. Really.”

“How can you understand? You’re too old.”

“Do you think I was born old? Y’know, I have pictures. Here’s me at thirteen — ”

“But times were different then — ”

“Yes, they were. You could get polio and measles and smallpox. An appendectomy was a serious operation. People smoked everywhere, there was no getting away from the smoke. In school, they taught us to duck and cover in case of a nuclear attack. Whites and blacks still had separate restrooms and drinking fountains. Women couldn’t get a legal abortion. Gas had lead in it. Vegetables were sprayed with DDT. You could be arrested for being gay. Yes, times were different.”

“No, I meant that protesting was a fad, not serious like — ”

“Excuse me? Do you want to see the scar on my scalp where I was hit by a thrown bottle at the first gay rights march? We also had civil rights demonstrations, anti-war marches, and rallies for women’s rights as well. That was no fad. People were dying — ”

“No, look, man — it’s the establishment. That’s what’s wrong — ”

“And you want to replace the establishment with what? A different establishment? Listen — when I was your age, when my generation was your age, we were just as frustrated and just as impatient as you are now. Honest. Am I saying we were wrong? Hell, no. We were right. Better than that, we were so right, we were self-righteous. We went around saying, ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30,’ as if somehow when you turned 30, you became one of them. Y’know?

“You know what we missed? We missed the obvious — that there were a lot of good men and women over 30 who understood the issues, and the complexities of the situation better than we did — because they’d been fighting that fight for a lot longer. We had emotion, we had energy, we had spirit — but we didn’t have enough experience, enough history, enough of everything we needed to effect real change.

“So we didn’t turn out for Hubert Humphrey and we handed the country to Richard Nixon. And a generation later, other people didn’t turn out for Al Gore and handed the country to George W. Bush. And what was missed — both times — was the fact our impatience was the single biggest mistake we could make.

“Hubert Humphrey had experience, he had wisdom, and he shared our goals. Al Gore had experience, he had wisdom, and he shared our goals. But somewhere, enough of us decided that he was too old or too much of the establishment or didn’t really represent us enough, or would just give us more of the same when what we really wanted was more, better, and different, even if we couldn’t define it — enough of us felt that way to hand the presidency to a much worse administration.

“So, no — it isn’t that you’re wrong. It’s that there are people who’ve been down this path before. We know where it leads. And it’s not a good place. We know what this mistake looks like. Because we’ve made it ourselves — and we’re asking you not to make the same mistakes we did, because each time we make this mistake, everyone gets hurt.”

And he said, “So that’s a fancy way of saying ‘suck it up, buttercup, you can’t have what you want.”

And I said, “No, but if that’s the way you want to hear it, then that’s the way you’re going to hear it. The way government works, nobody gets everything they want. The way government is supposed to work, everybody negotiates — and eventually everybody gets a piece of what they need to keep going. Nobody likes that, but consider what the alternative is — if some people get everything they want, that means a lot of people are going to get nothing at all. We keep trying that, it doesn’t work. Let’s go back to the stuff that does work.”

“But I don’t like her — ”

“I’m not asking you to like her. I’m asking you to respect that she knows how to do the job. He doesn’t. You can have your protest vote, that’s your right, but that’s letting everybody else decide who gets the oval office. And you might want to think long and hard about which of the two will build on what President Obama has accomplished and which of the two will tear it all down with no idea of why it worked in the first place. Your choice.”

And he said, “That’s not much of a choice.”

And I said, “The hell it isn’t. It’s a choice between experience and ignorance. That’s the clearest choice I’ve ever seen in an election.”

He didn’t have an answer for that.

And that’s the point —

‘I might be old, but I’m not stupid. And I suspect that a lot of other members of my generation feel the same way. We remember when we were impatient. And we remember the mistakes that our impatience created.

“Old people don’t tell young people what to do and what not to do because we want to control your lives — we just want to warn you not to make the same mistakes we did.

“But you will. Or you won’t. Because it’s your choice. Always.”

As a coda, another comment from a good friend of mine, Jeremy Grimshaw, also quoted with permission:

I’ve got an anxiety in my gut that makes it impossible for me to watch the presidential debate in real time tonight–not because I worry Hillary will do poorly or that Trump will do well, but because I fear that it doesn’t matter how well she does or how poorly he does. The fact that nearly half of all Americans take a person as cruel, crass, immoral, fraudulent, oblivious, and arrogant as Trump seriously as a potential national leader, that they have dimmed and warped their epistemic lenses so terribly that they aren’t appalled by the mere fact of his sharing a stage with her, fills me with despair. What could he say that is worse than he has already said? What depth of depravity remains for him to sink to? It’s not a matter of cringing at the content or tone of the trash he flings or wringing my hands about her responses being forceful enough. I just can’t bear to watch people watching him as if he were a valid option, as if he even belonged in the same arena as her. Remember, when she was in the war room helping call the shots that killed Bin Laden, he was touching up his spray-tan for the reality-TV cameras. We are about to offer the decorum of potential presidentiality to a man who raided the coffers of his charity to commission a gigantic painting of himself in a suit of armor to hang on the wall of a golf resort bar. The most absurdist comedy writers in the country could not conjure a more outlandish parody of the Presidency than the one the Republican Party has nominated to the office.

I can’t watch the debate because I can’t bear to watch America being so incredibly stupid. At a certain point, ignorance, made willful by moral and mental neglect and partisan indolence, crosses the threshold into blasphemy.

Two candidates. Neither perfect. One with decades of experience in governance, the other with nothing but bluster and xenophobia.

Please, please… consider so carefully what kind of a world you want to build, and vote for the candidate who most closely mirrors your values, even if it’s not a perfect match.

The Old Wolf has reposted.