Infected by our shortened attention spans.

doing what everyone else is doing

We ain’t as talented as we like to think.  If we were we wouldn’t be stuck in a society where many do not have a perceptual understanding of the global map, of inter-relationships between countries and who do not enjoy a fundamental understanding of the purpose of taxes and government expenditures used for the common good.

People often believe things merely because many other people do. The effect is often called herd instinct. People tend to follow the crowd without examining the merits of a particular thing.

In a herd, each individual is choosing behaviour that corresponds to that of the majority of other members, possibly through imitation or possibly because all are responding to the same external circumstances.

A herd is by definition relatively unstructured. However, there may be one or a few animals which tend to be imitated by the rest of the members of the herd more than others. An animal taking this role is called a “control animal”, since its behaviour will predict that of the herd as a whole..

Herd behavior describes how individuals in a group can act together without planned direction. The term pertains to the behavior of animals in herds, flocks, and schools, and to human conduct during activities such as stock market bubbles and crashes, street demonstrations, sporting events, religious gatherings, episodes of mob violence and even everyday decision making, judgment and opinion forming.

As more people come to believe in something, others also “hop on the bandwagon” regardless of the underlying evidence. The tendency to follow the actions or beliefs of others can occur because individuals directly prefer to conform, or because individuals derive information from others. – Wikipedia


We live in two Americas.

One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system.

This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.

This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. … even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence.

A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book. –Chris Hedges 

What gets interesting about this lack of intellectual desire is the apparent contentment with the immediate satisfaction of fast-food entertainment. This is what corporate  marketing is aimed at. We folks are an ever-increasing across-the-social-spectrum majority of easily distracted minds.

Like it or not, the “fundamentals” of our economy, the infrastructure of cash flow, investment and accumulation is based on emphasis marketing that targets the more incurious – the simple-minded consumer and voter base.

Voter base?

The United States voting base is all of us. We constitute the highest expression of citizenship: choosing leadership – but only if and as we vote.

Could we not make the case that where we are politically in this moment is a circumstance that was the result of campaigns in which both parties had to run their strategy in this context of mental illiteracy?

How did we respond to such dumbed-down campaigning?   We were the targets of a simple strategy intended to,As Hedges put it,

… ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation … manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal.

Supporters of both candidates who live in the world of life-long self-inflicted illiteracy of thought truly are citizens who should know better, who should pay attention and focus critically on not blindly supporting slogans and  narratives that constitute creations of spin doctors.

Hedges declared that we confuse how we feel with knowledge and he’s right. One unassailable proof of this is the angry-old-white-voter base that makes up the majority of sleepy slurpers watching Fox News.

And then of course there’s the god-talkers who speak as if the Almighty were Chairman of a conservative coalition.

If we are to live in a society where God has a permanent active place in our national political process, it must not be the God of right wing absolute fundamentalism – the God-talk that is always in the news promoting its “victim” and “oppositional” agenda .

That anti agenda is in fact the foundation of a Taliban society. It is that same intellectual and spiritual illiteracy that seeks immediate emotional gratification by being spoon-fed someone else’s notions rather than using one’s own personal utensil of discernment.

We must be curious … we must ask yourselves what sort of mental exercise we complete if we let someone else tell us what to think, when to think and when to act on silly thinking.

We of the baby boomer generation opened the flood gates for the sort of world in which our children find themselves. We were the first post-WWII targets of what might have been a less-sophisticated but still powerful focus on message management as a means of social manipulation.

Then, as we grew older, when religious evangelical fundamentalists were offered vocal help from political talk jocks, things got worse. There were those who knew all about building dumbed-down anger as necessary to building dumbed-down majorities. They  set about converting our generation of rebellious thinking children of the sixties. Their goal has been to change us into the gullible parents and grandparents of the next two generations for whom critical thinking skills has not been a priority.

What is the significance of critical thinking and a sufficient degree of intellectual sophistication in the civic life of this nation?

listen to hear not reply

Understand first … then reply

How else do you think we’ve arrived at a point in our history where impeachment has become an absolute necessity.

We together – all of us – left, right, center need to take corrective action. We need to quit assigning blame or guilt to who voted for or against who.

We have a serious problem. We need to fix this … now.


Many of us were fooled it seems. But the biggest fools seem to be the ones prompted by Russians to express racial hatred.

We read every one of the 3,517 Facebook ads bought by Russians. Here’s what we found

There are pictures of Trump republicans wearing t-shirts that say “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.” Looks like the Russians have done their homework quite well. Many of us were fooled it seems. But the biggest fools seem to be the ones prompted by Russians to express racial hatred.

Of that, oh Kindergarten Konservatives, be not proud.

Speaking of fake news … who you callin a flying monkey?

Image result for flying monkey

Several times lately I have seen cut and paste postings claiming that Barack Obama has been declared the worst  president ever in polls.


fake news dinesh

Where are these images getting the most traction?
Why, the Kindergarten Konservative choir is the obvious object of affection.

The go to words are “cut and paste” which has been the intention of those who created the graphics/images in the first place.

This is a great example of what we all should be doing before we write, accuse, slam, slander – even criticize.

It’s called homework; due diligence; honesty; investigating sources – all the things, for example, our Congress folks on their committees should be researching before they get on television, pop off and make fools of themselves.

Every time I get called on writing something that I have not properly researched I realize I have it coming.

Consider these articles from USA TODAY and New York Magazine that were published two days ago:

Barack Obama is greatest president of our lifetime, 44% of Americans say in Pew survey

Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime

For the above question of fake news and who is lying, I started a web search. I found the same results on several sites and will use Snopes’ report.

Was Obama Ranked ‘Worst President Since World War II’ in a New Poll?

“An outdated poll from 2014 was drastically misrepresented by a number of right-wing sites and pundits, none of whom appears to have correctly sourced the claim.”

All I can say is that if you cut and paste blindly, with blind trust, blind faith and blind confidence, you’ll be nothing more than a flying monkey.
Image result for flying monkey

Flying monkeys is a phrase used in popular psychology mainly in the context of narcissistic abuse. They are people who act on behalf of a narcissist to a third party, usually for an abusive purpose – Wikipedia







Sharia Law, Deth to Liburals and the Silly Section at its worst.

obama scares me

When we lived in Bay Center, on Willapa Bay (the Washington coast), our next door neighbor had a  little but loud dog, Tito;  a ferociously loud yapper who took it upon himself to defend his territory against all invaders.

That pesky neighborhood-disturbing yapper once caught my attention and I looked outside. Someone had thrown what looked like popcorn out on the road in front of the neighbor’s house and ten to fifteen crows were hanging around after the free grub.

Tito thought not. I watched then as the crows first positioned themselves on telephone lines and trees in a kind of tactical circle so that Tito would be busy trying to keep them all away. When a few of the crows landed at one end of the food, Tito went after them. On the opposite side, other crows swooped down and began feasting. Tito of course turned and roared after the offenders leaving his previous quarry free to move in themselves. It took less than 10 minutes for the popcorn to disappear.

I thought about how the defensive tactic of airborne bombers and submarines illustrates the value of diversion as a means of avoiding destruction. When the pilot or submarine commander orders the release of chaff after an enemy air-to-air missile or torpedo is discovered, the result is supposed to be that the “electronic” attention span of the missile or torpedo is disrupted, distracted and veers off in pursuit of a pseudo target. The planes and submarines remain free to pursue their objective.

Well, the bad guys are using chaff on us.

It seems that like torpedoes, air-to-air missiles and Tito the homeland protector, we who strive to challenge and resist the foreign and domestic policy agenda that Mr. Trump relentless pursues, face an almost daily dose of distracting chaff and crows who draw our attention away. We chase the chaff and run around barking at the distracting crows  while the real vultures stay their course and swoop down on the unsuspecting to bite off more and greater chunks from what is of the people, by the people and for the people.

In this regard, I suppose many would say that manipulators a la Trump and company do their job with so-so success based on skill and powerful success based on voter gullibility. I’m not ready to ascribe to the Trumpsters some idea of superior genius that most of us lack. I do acknowledge their willingness – the outlandish gall, if you will – to simply go ahead and try whatever works; whatever can be gotten away with.


Since the title promises something about Sharia Law let me make a few observations that I have seen elsewhere and are not necessarily my own original thoughts, although I intensely agree with them.

Consider this :

Government based on Religion
Women with less rights than men
Gays persecuted, and physically attacked
Science rejected religious doctrine pushed
No separation between church and state

Image result for sharia law political cartoon

The truth is, no one – in any official government or political party (Democratic, Libertarian, Republican, Constitutional or Green) capacity has suggested or proposed that the United States of America adopt Sharia Law as a code by which people will be governed.

However talking-head stampeders,  broadcast networks working for the bucks,  talk show hosts in need of large audiences to generate the bucks have created and pushed the rumor. Why?  Well, because  – like you and me – they need income.

Making folks unreasonably mad (or scared) enough to keep coming back pays their bills. To hell with truth, they have bills to pay and an angry gullible audience with wild imaginations fits the bill perfectly.

Which brings me back to crows, distractions and our smart dog Jake. A few days later I was cleaning out our freezer and found two loaves of special bread we had purchased a couple of years before on a trip. It was obvious by the few spots of mold, that two-year old frozen bread would not do for our menu. After letting the loaves thaw, I was about to toss them in the trash bin when I remembered Tito.

Oh, more entertainment… and I tossed both loaves out on to the road between our house and the neighbors and watched for Tito.

Jake on the Beach

Tito did not appear, but my own dog, Jake, (who is part Australian Shepherd and Collie and looks like Lassie with a blunt nose) wandered out into the road and sniffed at one of the loaves. Wasn’t his cup of tea and he started to ignore it. At that point another neighbor from up the street walked by with his own dog who sniffed at the other loaf, took it in his mouth and carried it about 30 yards up the road before dropping it and moving on.

By this time the crows had gathered and Jake, like Tito two weeks earlier, found himself invested in keeping the crows from stealing the bread. He stared at the other loaf some 30 yards off as several crows landed and started biting out chunks. Jake rushed toward the action and the crows took flight. Standing over the far loaf he looked back to see the crows landing around the other loaf still on the road on front of our house.

Now Jake is not Tito, not excitable and has a herding and guarding instinct that astounds me at times. He looked at those crows for a moment, took the distant loaf in his mouth, trotted over close to the first loaf – causing the crows to fly off. He then proceeded to bury the loaf he’d carried back to our house, digging a hole less than 15 feet from the first loaf. The crows helplessly watched Jake bury that loaf knowing he was not to be distracted.

When he was through, he trotted over and “stayed the course” with the remaining loaf – keeping the crows from their thievery. I don’t know how long Jake sustained his vigil but I realized that his own tactic of setting aside one distraction for another more appropriate time while continuing with his original task of preventing the crows from achieving their objective was a valuable life lesson.

Think about that the next time you encounter chaff meant to distract you; things like immigrants taking your jobs, Sharia Law, Hillary’s sins, Obama’s birth certificate or just plain satanic liberal agendas.

Although they may evoking sufficient media interest that worsens with public gullibility, they are still not credible topics worthy of attention. Aren’t there more important things upon which your anti-aircraft missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes ought to remain focused, locked and loaded?

Partisan manipulators are not geniuses. Their strongest attribute is cunning combined with a willingness to try anything that might work.

Working to think one or two steps ahead of them is hard but not impossible. The benefits are enormous – the ability to ignore nonsense while closing in on the underbelly itself.

There are intelligent ways to sort out flying bullshit when it fills the breeze around you. Those who thrive on un-original thinking – in effect attempting to be seen credibly by copying and pasting their way to glory – for the most part break one or several of the following when trying to be seen as persuasive.

Image may contain: text

Should we continue to look the other way and pretend that reality shows, serial killers, dancing contests and comic book television and movies are more important? Is it not a false notion that truth omitted from our most prominent broadcasters must not be relevant if they are not talking about it?

Do we let spin doctors and propagandists encourage us to ignore things that should arouse in us the most intense indignation one can imagine – an indignation that we as a people truly did not authorize a president to do?

Is the president once again going to continue to try to fool most of the people most of the time?

Only the sleepiest among us believe fair and balanced campaigns from Foxy liars are going to lead to a fair expression of what should be done about Iran that’s in the best interest of corporate America.

Only the blindest followers of a misunderstood code continue to insist the citizens are not patriotic if they don’t blindly accept the unchallenged political self-interest of its commander-in-chief and his doofus decisions.

Perhaps the sleepiest among us are those who thought they were doing God’s work by voting for the incumbent in 2016.

Why? Because only the most outrageous Christian hypocrites make mountains out of moral molehills at the expense of the heart and compassion of the real teachings of Jesus.

Why do we let these people sell us bridges and worthless stock in pseudo-American ideals that no majority of us ever endorsed?

Why do we robot-like jerk to attention when leadership waves the flag.

But then, maybe worrying about liberals and rumors of Sharia Law ARE significantly more important than the reality we live in.



You ain’t the only pebble on the beach

When you leave your cosy little corner where most folks either agree with you or, regardless, possess mostly similar understandings of what the world is like, you learn stuff.

Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad an almost precise expression of what was on my mind during most of our recent journey.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Reach for success friends … motivate yourself by tracking markers … measure what you can brag about … self-help narcissism.

Self-help advice reflects the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawned it.Illustration by Nishant Choksi

New breakdown of the old thinking that has led to a nation of gullibles whose tradition goes way back to the ideas of success formulas leading to a shopping list of hopes all under the guise of an American Dream.

My first recommended mandatory reading of 2018. Your loss if you don’t but if you don’t, by no means walk around thinking you are smart,  hep and keeping up with the in crowd.

Improving Ourselves to Death:  What the self-help gurus and their critics reveal about our times.


you’ve made new resolutions for 2018, and the first one is not to make resolutions. Instead, you’re going to “set goals,” in the terminology of the productivity guru Tim Ferriss—preferably ones that are measurable and have timelines, so you can keep track of your success.

Reach for success friends … motivate yourself by tracking markers … measure what you can brag about … self-help narcissism.

Once your goals are in place, it might be smart to design a methodology that will encourage you to accomplish them. Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” recommends a three-step self-conditioning process. You want to get to the gym more? Pick a cue (sneakers by the door); choose a reward that will motivate you to act on it (a piece of chocolate); execute. Bravo! You are now Pavlov and his dog.

So what’s the secret for aspiring to POSITIVELY THOUGHT OUT desires for prosperity and success?

In retrospect, “The Secret,” which sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, seems a testament to the predatory optimism that characterized the years leading up to the financial crisis. People dreamed big, and, in a day of easy money, found that their dreams could come true. Then the global economy crashed, and we were shaken violently awake—at least for a time.

This article is a different way of whispering to us that our own new clothes aren’t real … we are still naked.

The desire to achieve and to demonstrate perfection is not simply stressful; it can also be fatal, according to the British journalist Will Storr. His forthcoming book, “Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us” (Overlook), opens, alarmingly, with a chapter on suicide. Storr is disturbed by the prevalence of suicide in the United States and Britain, and blames the horror and shame of failing to meet the sky-high expectations we set for ourselves. He cites surveys that show that adolescent girls are increasingly unhappy with their bodies, and that a growing number of men are suffering from muscle dysmorphia; he interviews psychologists and professors who describe an epidemic of crippling anxiety among university students yoked to the phenomenon of “perfectionist presentation”—the tendency, especially on social media, to make life look like a string of enviable triumphs. Storr confesses that he, too, is dogged by self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. “We’re living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills,” he writes. “People are suffering and dying under the torture of the fantasy self they’re failing to become.”

Storr’s explanation for how we got into this predicament has three strands. First, there is nature. “Because of the way our brains function, our sense of ‘me’ naturally runs in narrative mode,” he writes; studies show that we are hardwired to see life as a story in which we star. At the same time, he says, we are tribal creatures, evolved during our hunter-gatherer years to value coöperation and, at the same time, to respect hierarchy and covet status—“to get along and get ahead.”

Next comes culture—a trajectory that wends its way from the ancient Greeks, with their idea that humans are rational creatures who must strive in order to fulfill their highest potential, to Christianity, with its doctrine of a sinful self that requires salvation, to Freud, who’s “just a self-hating, sex-afeared, secular reinvention” of the same, and, finally, to the perilous American pursuit of happiness. Storr has conflicted feelings about the American view that the self is fundamentally good, and thus worthy of comfort and satisfaction. On the one hand, it’s a nice change from Christian guilt. On the other, it has “infected” the rest of the world with aspirational narcissism. Storr has harsh words for positive psychology, and for the self-esteem movement. He reserves special scorn for the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, which pioneered the Human Potential Movement back in the nineteen-sixties and has recently gained popularity with the Silicon Valley crowd.

Finally, there’s the economy. Survival in the hypercompetitive, globalized economy, where workers have fewer protections and are more disposable than ever, requires that we try to become faster, smarter, and more creative. (To this list of marketable qualities I’d add one with a softer edge: niceness, which the gig economy and its five-star rating system have made indispensable to everyone from cabdrivers to plumbers.) Anything less than our best won’t cut it.

Read it and weep … then wake up … and don’t look in the mirror with an eye to who you might see behind you watching your reaching for success.