Tuesday, February 26, 2019

"The Square and the Tower" Niall Ferguson (Last Book I Read)

The last book I read was "The Square and the Tower" by acclaimed historian Niall Ferguson.  The subtitle is "Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook."

With the technicalities out of the way, allow me to write that this book, and a number of books sitting on my shelf still, is one that I had been very eager to tackle.  I have work from this author, but what whetted my curiosity more than anything were the podcasts I heard Ferguson interviewed on, and the many mentions about this history on any number of other writings and podcasts.

The square and the tower are symbolic of two ways power and networks exist and exchange the role of power broker in society.  Its a fascinating characterizing of history, Ferguson traces power for hundreds of years and establishes a pattern of eras where either the square or the tower dominate.  The tower symbolizes the hierarchical order of traditional power  --  from the highest office in the land to the lowest, and the square symbolizes network power --  such as we have with the web, and the presiding power holder is social media.

This book was written just last year, 2018, so its fresh and relevant.   Instead of reinventing a very good review, I'll end my efforts and instead direct you to a great podcast devoted entirely to this book by Historian Brad Harris.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Jussie Again.

My previous comments about Jussie Smollett were brief, and to a point.  So much so that I assumed everyone knew that Smollett paid a couple a guys to wear a MAGA and then assault him.

What does linger longer, and ya gotta know its more of my Trump cynicism, is the feigned indignation from the President and the cult.

Maybe the biased media is NOT rebroadcasting every tweet of Trump's stochastic terrorism, but I am following my President on social media and I know full well how he conducts himself --  without a filter.

If someone said to me Trump is NOT a bad influence, I'd fall down laughing, but its not funny really.

The point is, some actor is NOT someone I have to concerned myself with, it's the leader of government who is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Example #664 of Trump being Trump

Trump Tower has 58 floors, but Trump insists it has 64.

It Doesn't Take a Contrived Attack to Make You Look Bad.

Jussie Smollett

The most effort I put into the story of Jussie Smollet is writing these comments,  prior to these comments the most effort I put into being accurate about Jussie Smollet was googling Jussie Smollet and subsequently capitalizing his name for the purposes of these comments to start correctly.

Otherwise I don't care.

It doesn't take a laid off actor to contrive an attack to make every one in a MAGA hat look bad, and I'm guessing that everyone who owns a MAGA hat have a hard time understanding me on this point.

But if your pride of that MAGA hat is affronted because of the deceitful actions of an actor you too probably never gave much thought about prior to his "beating", then I'd respectfully suggest you start prioritizing NOT being deceived.

Wearing a MAGA hat is probably the easiest "tell" in the history of all "tells" that the  wearer of said garment has little, if no pride in his or her's discernment of honesty, facts, or truthfulness.

But it does tell us that the actor you don't mind deceiving you is the one in the White House.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Conservative, or just a consumer?

Sometimes thoughts bounce around my head for a week or so and I let them simmer.  Maybe I'll add some spice to my inner dialog, really come at a subject matter with some pointed condescension, or maybe I'll mellow on it all,  maybe from reading or hearing some mitigating perspective I hadn't thought about and I just let it go.

This topic I ain't letting go, but if only I can convey it on pixels, like I rehearse it to myself, I could really lay into some red meat.

I've said for years, basically as soon as I got out of doing it myself, that going to any one, or a limited field of personalities on air, or in pixels transforms the practitioner into a suppliant being that has basically given up on experience and education as a personal quest, and has accepted living the angst and fallacies or whomever it is that holds the attention.

Tracing the human condition back eons,  one will not struggle to find thinkers who have placed into the vernacular words such as esteem, integrity, empathy, ethos and a host of other  that were meant to aid one another when discerning honest actors from malicious ones.

Personal ethos is my current pet.   Its defined as a framework of moral behavior.  Something an individual constructs within his mind to aid oneself in discerning whether that other person is a good person too.   Its personal --  my good guy might not be your good guy, but when you have an ethos, at least you become less prone to associating with a crowd that isn't holding the same values and morals as yourself.

I don't know what the ideal personal ethos is.   Heck,  its not even required to have one, although its rather important when you hold responsibilities.

My contention is that the medias who practice a variation of angering the audience, pointing fingers at villains, romancing a past and pushing anxieties about the future, while extolling how smart the audience is for just being a part of our crowd, but not theirs, are just a commercial enterprise that having earned a profitable balance sheet, a proven model, are never going to change.  But they also won't tell you what the bull shit coming out of their mouths is either!

Its all a commercial enterprise, capitalism in the guise of a personal ethos.  But it is not a personal ethos.  Those programs, plenty of which call themselves conservative, are selling you as a consumer their business model.  The model in this context is built on proven audience capturing schticks, that would not survive many personal ethos that place honesty, integrity, and empathy high on the list. 

They  should rightly be called consumer talk radio, not conservative talk radio, if labels meant anything, and no one should rightly replace their personal ethos with a commercial model.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

"The Caine Mutiny" Herman Wouk

The last book I read was "The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk, who as I write this, is still alive at a sizzling 104 years of age!

This  book came into my orbit from my mother's lending library near Pittsburgh, and will eventually find another owner via a lending library in northern Pennsylvania, but before it goes on its way, I'll share a few thoughts about the wisdom found in that 1951 classic about duty on board a WWII era minesweeper.

Its a thought provoking story in that you will see events unfold from the eyes of an officer under command of a odd fellow named Caption Queeg.   Queeg twirled marbles in his palms and had an observable penchant for avoiding danger.   Willie Keith, of course, has his own problems,  and so do a limited cast of officers on the ship and all these quirks of personalities unknowingly influence events on a dark and stormy night when the mutiny took place.

Its at the trail of the mutinous heroes where events as you've read them are cast in another light, and its the events after the trail that really drive home the notion that sometimes people have to be considered in light of their responsibilities, and that in a hierarchy, or structure where lives are at stakes it is critically important to trust the leader, even when it seems he doesn't want to face his duties, because maybe he is?

None of this should be construed as an endorsement to back a nutty President, by the way.

For me, a WWII history nerd, I really enjoyed the setting -- on board a WWII minesweeper in the great Pacific from  San Francisco to Pearl Harbor to coastal Japan with a number of atolls along the way.  New York City in the 1940's plays a considerable role as well as the U.S. Navy and its culture, from enlisting to mothballs.

This book is so classic, it also was a movie starring Humphrey Bogart and there was a run on Broadway too.  The movie was nominated for 7 Oscars and was the 2 highest grossing film in the year it was released.

A good book whose author  wrote quite a few, including 2 more that have more of a reputation than this one --  "War and Remembrance" and "Winds of War"