Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thing of Beauty #077-101: Just Askin'

For the last couple of weeks, I've been playing so many silly video games from a website that my index finger hurts.  Most likely, this situation is a result of trying to avoid saying that my dad has cancer.
It's only prostate cancer - and I say "only" intentionally because I keep hearing that if you have to have cancer, then prostate cancer is a good one to get because it's typically isolated in the prostate so it doesn't spread around the body which means that the man involved should live out his natural lifespan. I guess that's because most men are old men nearing the end of their natural life span before anyone discovers prostate cancer.  Nevertheless, the word "cancer" is a big, scary word, and it's a drag to apply it to anyone you love.

There's also the fact that both my parents turned 75 recently, which means that I'll be 55 this year, and no matter how you slice it, 55 is old.  Just ask AARP.  I don't feel particularly old until I remember that I'm 55, however.  Pinko is pretty old, too, since he'll turn 52 this summer.  If everything goes according to plan, he'll be out in the desert working with the DPW (Department of Public Works) to set up Black Rock City for Burning Man.   This year, the Man will stand flat on the ground so I expect people will try to climb to the top of the Man unless somebody is planted around the base to prevent climbers.  He's supposed to look like this:


He'll be up in flames soon enough, though, emphasizing the temporary nature of all things in this world and the need to recognize Immediacy (one of the Ten Principles).  Which brings us back to my dad.

Overall, I'm not worried about my dad since prostate cancer is not supposed to be any big deal.  It's just cancer, after all, and plenty of people recover from cancer every day.  But I still say that Cancer is a big, scary word since plenty of people die painful deaths from it too.  People die from all kinds of things, though.  Frankie Knuckles, one of Pinko's major influences as a DJ, died a couple of weeks ago because of Diabetes complications.  Pinko was very sad about Frankie Knuckle's death not only because Knuckes was a role model but also because it reminded him of his own mortality.

I'm pretty sure nothing reminds me of my own mortality because I'm one of those Airy Fairy Hippy Dippy Pagan types who think we're all energetic beings in an energetic universe, so that which we call Consciousness floats away somewhere to join the rest of the energetic universe.  Who knows what happens next?  Frankly, I don't think it matters at all.  The whole discussion is irrelevant.  Much more important to focus on what we're doing here and now - which is, of course, the whole point of Immediacy and Burning Man in general.  Seize the Day, and all that.

As a way of dealing with his sadness about Frankie Knuckles, Pinko made a mix.  It's on Mix Cloud under his DJ name, ABear.  I especially like this song, "Baby Wants to Ride," because there are some lefty political sentiments buried under all the sexy lyrics.  Something about not being able to fuck around fascists.


About the time Frankie Knuckles died, Punk Patriot posted a piece by Gil Scott Heron called Whitey on the moon:


I still say that the reason all those Teabaggers got their bowels in an uproar in the first place is because they realized that with the way the economy has gone, they don't get to be Whitey anymore.  Income inequity being what it is, very few folks get to be Whitey anymore.


There's a lot of depressing stuff in the world, so I'm glad that Pinko/ABear can focus on Art and Activism while I'm at work.  Last week we went out to the Brooklyn Museum to participate in an action with the NYC Light Brigade, standing in solidarity with Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei.

There's me and Pinko at the end, holding the O and the N.  He's wearing a hat.


I had never heard of Weiwei until ABear forwarded me the email from the Light Brigade with information about the demonstration.  We watched a documentary about him, Never Sorry, on Wednesday night in preparation for the event, but I'm sorry to say I kept dosing off since it was after dinner and going on 10:00.  He's cool and everything, and for sure, freedom of expression is a right worth defending especially since as we continue along this alarming, totalitarian trajectory the NSA and Homeland Security have set for this country with the blessing of our officials, elected or appointed, especially those in the White House, it's only a matter of time before America stops pretending our paramilitary police forces aren't already beating and locking up dissidents.  For now, it would just be nice if the dang cops would stop impulsively murdering people - like that poor guy in Albuquerque where the cops have a "pattern of excessive force." They have a pattern of excessive force in Oakland, too, but it doesn't get as much publicity.  

Meanwhile, I'm taking Pinko/ABear to Houston next weekend to meet my parents.  Texas has always served as an illustration that there are violent, stupid people in authority everywhere.  High Schools in Texas, like Klein for example, have their own private cops and jail cells.  Apparently, if you lock kids up on campus the statistics don't get recorded like they do when somebody calls the cops.  Klein School District's blend of stupidity and violence isn't limited to High Schoolers, however.  They handcuffed an 8 year old, for Pete's sake.  And of course, tasering is common in school districts nationwide (NYTimes).   There is nothing like a trip to Texas to make you appreciate living in New York City.

New York is not for everyone, I know.  It's noisy, crowded and often smelly - but I love my little home in Historic Harlem, and Pinko finally feels fully at home too.  Moving to New York during the worst winter any of us have seen in 25 years or more, Pinko did okay - especially when you consider that he lived in Hawaii for several years before he moved to Reno, where he's been enjoying lovely weather for the last decade.  He'll be making his New York debut as a DJ later this week at the bar where the owner flaked out about Soul Sundays.  I'm excited because it represents his first step back on the path toward making money doing something he loves.  He's made mixes the whole time I've known him, but once he started getting ready for Wednesday, he seemed to get a new fire inside. He reminded me of my Pulitzer Prize winning brother when he's jazzed about work or talking about baseball.  It may take a little time, but as long as he's following his bliss, as they say, the rest will fall into place.

I like being an artsy, activist couple - and when you look at many full-time activists, you will find someone supportive with a decent full-time job with benefits.  Fortunately, I've always loved my job (most days), so I'm happy to have that role.  Velvet and Gigi occasionally express a bit of worry that being the breadwinner is a struggle for me, but I suppose that's to be expected.  They're both New Yorkers to the core and have trouble imagining that someone might be overwhelmed by the noise, the attitude and the subways.  I hope they both can come out to the bar on Wednesday to see ABear coming back to life professionally because then maybe they will see what I see and understand that the best thing to do is let the man find his own way in the big city.

In a way, it's like Burning Man has provided a beacon for him to follow since he found the bar because of a Burner Happy Hour, and now he's arranged for Burner Happy Hour to be at that same bar next week when he's playing.  And of course, we found each other at Burning Man since I went out there specially to meet him.  A lot has happened since last May when he posted this status on Facebook:
Is this too much to ask?
Wanted : Revolutionary female.
Nice skin and height weight proportion (plus or minus 30%) ... smooth clean skin... all or most teeth... street level education or above... Half my age plus 7 is ideal but 23 - 65 is the extreme range.
Anti-Capitalist, Pinko, Commie, Syndicalist, Anarchist with a passion for Social Justice.
Social drinker and occasional drug user.
No addicts, please.
Just askin'...
So much, in fact, that I believe it qualifies as Thing of Beauty #077-101 (Explore Beauty: A Challenge). I have to pause here to thank Jennifer Morrison for initiating the Explore Beauty Challenge since looking for the beauty instead of the bullshit has been part of my own path these last couple of years.  My buddy Max, who mentored me through A Course in Miracles, has also helped me learn to distinguish between the Ways of the World and the life of the spirit.  And even though Pinko/ABear is an entrenched empiricist who resists the idea that we even have a spirit, he's got a lot of Heart, as they say.  So much he might as well be spiritual, although he uses a decidedly different vocabulary - but that's another topic.

For now, I'm just glad I didn't chicken out about Burning Man last year and that we're gearing up to go again.  The Man Burns in 139 days . . .








Friday, March 21, 2014

The New Normal

Pinko, aka ABear, and I are in the process of establishing ourselves as domestic partners.  Once we meet certain criteria, we can declare ourselves as such to my employer, Dog bless them, and he can be on my health insurance for $14 a month.  $19 with dental.

We might have gone out yesterday to perform one of the institutional tasks required to satisfy that criteria, but we decided to have a pajama day instead which meant foraging for breakfast and lunch among the last of the provisions lingering in the refrigerator, and having dinner after  Drunken! Careening! Writers!  I always love DCW, but last night was especially nice because Eddie Safarty read from a novel in progress.  His dear friend Bob Smith was in attendance.  I especially love Bob Smith because his newest book proves that there is someone on this earth who cheerfully despises Dick Cheney even more than I do - which is saying something (Remembrance of Things I forgot: A Novel)

Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store after work and brought home enough food for days, but I'm on spring break so there is no work.  More importantly, however, now that Pinko and I are institutionalizing our relationship, we're in the process of developing a New Normal.  Neither one of us will ever see the Old Normal again, which is all good.  The trick is to create a New Normal that integrates the things we each enjoyed/required in our individual Old Normals.  Life as a couple is great, but we both still need to meet our individual needs.

For example, I used to meditate or write in the mornings before work since I routinely woke up at 5:30am.  While I am blissfully content to remain in bed with Pinko until the last possible minute, that quiet time in the morning was important to maintaining my personal equilibrium.  Coming to a New Normal means finding new ways to achieve that equilibrium - like putting in some quality time on the treadmill in the gym downstairs in the basement while a couple of loads of laundry are in the wash down the hall.   I've been meaning to get in that habit for over a year, and I successfully managed to implement this plan earlier this week.

Pinko has successfully recognized that as the man of the house, he's in charge of managing the recycling and taking out the trash.  I'm pretty sure the church ladies in the building have noticed a change in the recycling since the new normal includes drinking for two, our occasional guests, as well as Velvet, Gigi and sometimes Cupcake.


Burner Happy Hour has been a big part of Pinko's transition to his own new normal.  Mostly, I also go to this weekly "meet and greet" event, but he's perfectly capable of finding his way to the Lower East Side and back on his own these days.  It's very fortunate that the Burning Man community here in New York is very strong because knowing a small group of people from out on the playa has reduced some of the stress and isolation Pinko might feel as a result of moving clear across the country to a big, strange city.  It's also yielded a perfect temporary job.  A Burner in Brooklyn owns a small perfume company which is staffed by Burners, and when they were moving the office a couple of weeks ago, they placed an ad for temporary help in the Burner Classified.  Pinko found his way to Brooklyn and back all by himself - which is more than a lot of people living in the 212 area code can say after several years in New York City.

He still wants to get a steady gig as a DJ in a bar a couple of nights a week, though, and although he's successfully avoided updating his resume until now, it looks like he's going to have to bite the bullet and conform to this cultural expectation if he wants to secure employment.   For a little while, it looked like he'd be working on Sundays at  a bar where the burners met just before Thanksgiving called NoFun.  ABear (and he's ABear here because that's his DJ name) finds NoFun comfortable and friendly, so he's wound up there a few times when I've gone home early and left him to his own devices downtown.  One of the bartenders came up with an idea to stimulate business on Sundays which have been painfully slow which translates into painfully few tips for a good bartender.  The concept was to pull in regular customers from the neighborhood with classic, old school, MoTown soul music - as opposed to the technopop stuff that attracts yuppies from the suburbs (or Bridge and Tunnel, as we here in 212 describe that crowd) who line up to get into the bar on weekends.

Any time I've been at NoFun, some random, inexperienced DJ has offered up music I've come to call Electro-Assault.  Even when I don't get an instant headache, which ABear says is a result of not mixing in enough base so that the treble enters your brain like an exploding pin cushion, I get the impression that these boy DJs think that the minute they plug in their technology, they magically transport to a warehouse filled with hundreds of attractive ravers gyrating in a giant ecstasy inspired amoeba of dance.  Unfortunately, there are really only four guys in button-downs and khakis by Polo jumping around like douchebags getting drunk for the first time at somebody's Bar Mitzvah.

photo swiped from the internet - not an actual night at said bar

Whatever.  It's just too bad that he said last Sunday could be a Soul Sunday, so ABear and I went down there instead of going to see Lee Camp's new show because ABear committed to playing.  We got there and some little guy was already set up to play.  The bartender was disappointed, and we were disappointed - even more disappointed because it turns out that when the owner authorized Soul Sundays he'd evidently forgotten that he had already told this little fellow could have Sundays for the foreseeable future.  He says the youngster is the child of one of his mother's friends.

As a result of all this disappointment, the resume is back on ABear's "to do" list, and he spent a couple of days searching for an old copy to update.  He could have created a new one, but I suppose that idea was entirely overwhelming.  I totally trust his process, so whatever ABear wants to do is fine with me.  He finally found one on a defunct website for people in the hospitality and entertainment fields, but in my view, it makes much more sense for the NSA to provide some sort of data retrieval service.

It would be very fucking simple for our internet providers - who already collect our personal data for the NSA anyway - to add data retrieval services for a few extra bucks per month.  If you bundle your services with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or anyone else who has phone, internet and TV, you could get pertinent phone conversations too.  Imagine if Woody Allen and Mia Farrow could produce exact records from certain phone calls to clear up the whole child molester thing.  The NSA has everything on us all the way back to those permanent records principals and other authority figures used to threaten  back in elementary school - not to mention every purchase we've made ever since the first consumer used the first supermarket or drugstore club card.

With budget shortfalls so severe the US is compelled to neglect human need in order to pay for endless war and ecocide, you'd think someone would be selling NSA as the very best single solution for all your data backup needs.   The information is probably in your permanent record at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (photo by Trevor Paglen in The//Intercept).


I'm thinking we can count the surveillance state as part of the new normal, along with our paramilitary police force, the increasing number of earthquakes as a result of fracking, and a media consolidated and controlled so throughly by corporations that propaganda and celebrity gossip is reported as news by people so stupid they don't even notice what they're saying - as illustrated in this oldie but goodie from KTVU in Oakland, California:



More on the NSA from The//Intercept:
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/03/?post_type=article&title=News

And a bit about Big Data and citizen profiling from The Atlantic:
Welcome to Algorithmic Prison




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Click Bait and The Decline of Empire - a Pinko Valentine

For Valentines Day, I gave Pinko my cold.  He's sleeping through his cold, but my cold turned into one of those lingering, loose coughs.  I blame the NYC Department of Education, since I had to trudge through the blowing snow and ice, over mounds of frozen sludge to climb onto the bus to get to school.  Our school stayed open because DOE was open.

I get it that the Department of Education has many issues to balance, but it seemed to me that DeBlasio was looking at schools as day care centers for low wage workers.   Priveliged workers can work from home, take a personal day, or figure something out because we typically have options and support structures in place.  Low wage workers can be at work or be replaced. 

Teachers across the region were fully pissed off on Thursday and used social media to vent.   New York Collective of Radical Educators posted a link to a news story featuring this photo/caption.

"School's in NYC are to remain open." - Bill de Blasio
I'd provide the title of the story, but it was one of those typical "click bait" titles that describe the contents of the article as hilarious, and in my considered opinion, the contents were mildly amusing at best.   The one with Godzilla made me chuckle because it's an accurate assessment of the situation - especially since I've been expecting Godzilla to rise up from the ocean again ever since Fukushima.

Pinko has been on a tear lately about "click bait," because so many people on Face Book share articles without even checking to see if they are remotely true, or even reading the article at all for that matter.  They share an item on the strength of the headline or the graphic alone.   For example, a while ago, there was a little video going around that showed a few moments of what was supposedly an accident with fireworks but it was really a daytime display of fireworks.  I think it was in France.  I didn't watch any of it because, frankly, I didn't care to spend four more minutes of my day on Bullshit, and that was before I'd been trudging through the sleet and slush to get to work for days and days.  But, people were having a good time sharing the video and making comments like, "oooops."
Pinko became an internet party popper by posting links to the truth in the these same comment threads.

He gets annoyed when stories are circulating about the bad behavior of an individual, and the citizens of Face Book are all pissed off, demanding retribution on the alleged perpetrator.  Generally, it's some stupidity on the part of someone who should have known better - like that ancient video of the woman who swiped a foul ball from some little kid at an Astros game:


Granted, the woman looks like a greedy asshole in the video.  She probably works for BP or another corporation filled with greedy assholes - but the incident itself occurred in April 2012 and stories were still appearing over a year later like this one in Opposing Views in September 2013 (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/sports/woman-steals-foul-ball-little-girl-during-astrosdiamondbacks-game-video).

While this little vignette in Houston might provide some sort of contemporary morality play if anyone stopped a moment to find out a few facts and draw some conclusions - that's not what happens on Facebook.  People start spewing invective and dreaming up appropriate punishments for the douchebag on parade.  The same thing happened with that story about the sorry-assed Boy Scout leaders who fucked up some sacred rocks in Utah (Charges Filed Against Boy Scout Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock Formation, ABC News, Feb 1, 2014).   It was undoubtedly an example of exceedingly bad behavior, but what's worse - in my mind anyway - is that thousands of people were bitching to high hell about a couple of assholes in a state park, but we can frack the whole country to smithereens and the same people don't even know it's happening.

Like the other day, more news came out about the dramatic increase in Oklahoma earthquakes since Fracking was introduced in the state a couple of years ago - and there is little, if any, mention of bit of information in the mainstream news - much less circulating around Facebook like the viral videos of stupid shit.

http://kgou.org/post/oklahoma-s-earthquake-swarm-one-chart, 2.14.14

It seems to me that somebody somewhere makes a concerted effort to distribute and publicize stories of individuals behaving badly.  These stories antagonize folks who are already cranky about life in general, like so many of us are these days.   By offering up some tiny little target for their anger, the stories distract the public from larger, more central issues such as big money in government, privately funded climate change denial - take your pick.  The point is that if everyone is busy complaining about the Outrage Du Jour, then people won't band together and take to the streets to protest the Endless War and Ecocide resulting from years of corporate control.

Gothamist recently addressed the Click Bait phenomenon in an article entitled Jerry Seinfeld is The Devil Who Hates Minorities & Women.  Evidently, there's a service known as Chartbeat that records the number of hits a website or blog receives.  Gothamist explains:
Chartbeat, to the uninitiated, is a giant, coal-and-kitten-blood-powered factory located somewhere in the middle of Death Valley that counts up every single precious little click on websites like Gawker in order to calculate each blogger's exact worth as an employee.
I can see how a writer would want to stoke the Outrage Machine to drive up hits to his/her work in order to keep a job, get a raise, or whatever.  But since media consolidation has given roughly 350 executives dominion over the print and electronic news programming in a country with roughly 320,000,000 million people - well, you can see how it pays to keep America focused on celebrities, sports and examples of individuals behaving badly.  While we're looking at some bogus flickering images, the rich guys can do whatever they want - the guys of the Wall Street Kappa Beta Phi chapter can tell you:

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society, by Kevin Roose, 
You can also see how it would be useful to publish photoshopped pictures of giant squid and attribute Fukushima radiation, or of fictitious Grammy acceptance speeches.  The thing is that when passionate people impulsively but earnestly share information only to discover that they've been fooled or hoaxed - it can lead a citizen activist to doubt his/her own judgement.  Consequently, that person may hesitate to share real, important information about social and economic justice, the environment or peace.  These "satires" can be just as effective as hostile trolls when it comes to shutting up the Left.

These are the sort of topics Pinko and I discuss at the dinner table when we're not absorbed in a lovefest.  Mostly, we're absorbed in lovefests, but we originally became friends over political and cultural analysis and the original discussion continues with the addition of Burning Man.  Sometimes we both sit at our computers, me at my desk in the corner and him by the window across the room where he occasionally smokes one of his Rollie cigarettes, and we tell each other about what we're reading - like an old, married couple reading the newspaper sections at the breakfast table.

Since the whole world is clearly going to Hell in a hand basket and there's little chance of stopping the inevitable decline of The Empire, it's a comfort to be here at the edge of the Apocalypse with Pinko the Bear.

He's going to be on BearMan Radio this coming Sunday around noon, talking about the shit going down this week in Kiev.  Although it appears that the people are rising in protest against tyrants, like the Arab Spring, the reality may be that some fascist types, with the backing of spooks from the US, are stirring up the locals.   He was talking about the situation on his own blogtalk show last night - Up Late with Pinko the Bear: Kiev is on Fire.

Honestly, it's hard to believe that we never laid eyes on each other in real life until six months ago, when I jumped on a plane and went to Burning Man.  We're going again this summer, of course.  I've already got my ticket.  If the end of the world as we know it is on the horizon, I'm delighted and grateful that we're following our bliss in every day life, and celebrating the human spirit for vacation.  Must be Thing of Beauty #076-101 (Explore Beauty - a Challenge, from realia).



Update:
Here's the podcast from Bearman Radio.  Great discussion that shows exactly what I like about Pinko the Bear, and his new Bear friend
http://bearmanradio.com/2014/02/23/the-bearman-group-28.aspx






Monday, February 10, 2014

Developing a New Domesticity



Pinko is joining the NYC Light Brigade for this action tomorrow (thedaywefightback.org).
He was with the Light Brigade last fall for the Living Wage thing, and he enjoyed it so much he's stayed in touch to volunteer.  He'll probably be holding a sign again.

I'm proud of him.   It hasn't been three weeks since he moved in for good on January 22nd when we got back from Reno, and he's building connections every day.  He's more involved in the NY Burner community, and he's been regrouping to start up his blogtalk show again.   The Pinko the Bear show has been erratic, at best, since he got back to Reno from Burning Man last September - I suppose being in New York disrupted his pattern, too, not only with his show but also with his habits.  For example, this year he didn't watch the super bowl which he's watched for years and years and years even though he is always sure to reference Noam Chomsky's opinion on sports - which has something to do with millionaires entraining hundredaires and thousandaires for the profit of billionaires and killionaires as well as the whole Bread and Circuses thing.

We took a long walk up Broadway, pausing occasionally at the windows of bars or restaurants where the game was playing loudly.  It was romantic.  Last week, we went to the launch party for the International Socialist Review.  They've been publishing for a long time, but recently updated their format.  While we were there, Pinko bought a book called Leon Trotsky: An Illustrated Introduction.  It's a graphic novel/biography by Tariq Ali.  I suspect that when it comes to couples, we're about as Red as they come, although I confess that every time he reads to me from the Trotsky book, I fall asleep.


We've been having fun, and now it's time to start focusing on his job search.  Right after we got back from Reno, we went to a party at a night club where the DJ was enough of an amateur to convince Pinko, known as ABear when he's a DJ, that he should be able to find a DJ job easily enough.  There's a bar downtown where he'd like to work but there are so many youngsters DJing for free out there that he couldn't get on the schedule until April.  So he's going back to the idea of being a part-time night doorman.  Something should turn up soon, but as much as it would be nice to have the extra money, there's no reason to take some stupid job just for a few bucks.  To me, the most important thing right now is to get clear about the kind of job he'd like to have.  It's easy to run off half cocked and find yourself running around in circles getting nowhere.

Meanwhile, he's been making himself useful by taking out the trash, meeting me at the store and carrying home the groceries and sealing up the draft around the window unit in our bedroom.  He opened the apricot jam jar too.  This week, he needs to wait around on the building super to drain the radiators and let ConEd in to read the meter.   I love this enhancement to my lifestyle.  Whenever I have a domestic dilemma that I can't solve on my own, I can simply Leave it to Pinko.

Naturally, there have been small shifts in my routine as well, most notably my pattern of Early to Bed, Early to Rise.  Now, I'm staying up later and sleeping later although it looks like he may not be staying up all night as much as he used to. I imagine that will shift again once he gets a job, but for now, we're very cozy.  It's especially nice since he tucks me in at 10:30 or 11:00 to make sure I get enough sleep since I'm the one with the day job.

To tell the truth, my ass has been dragging a little.  It took a lot of energy to spend over a week in Texas, have surgery that turned out to be more major than anticipated the minute I got back from Texas, and then fly out to Reno ten days later to meet Pinko's parents and bring him back to New York.   I loved Reno, though.  I loved having dinner with his best friends and driving around town with him to see the taxi stand and other points of interest, like the Morris Hotel for Burners.  His family was delighted to see me, which was a lovely experience compared to how Vagina Dentata and I cordially detested each other the whole time I was married to Buzz Kill.

When Pinko's mom dropped us off at the airport on Wednesday, she clasped her hands together and said, "I finally have a daughter!"
I was touched and replied, "Oh good! Next time I'm here I'll start swiping your stuff," since, you know, swiping the good stuff is what daughters often do best.

I loved the big sweeping sky in Reno, too, with the mountains on the horizon.  Pinko's mom pointed out her favorite colors in the sunset - some lavenders that only last for a few minutes.  She's been outnumbered by rowdy boys her whole life, and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.

For now, Pinko and I are getting to know each other better, too, in a pleasant, companionable, domestic sort of way.  In most ways, it feels like we've known each other forever - but I'm beginning to loosen up although I will always, always close the door when I'm in the bathroom.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The iPotty

As someone who has worked with very young children for nearly 25 years, during which I have participated in the potty training of hundreds of children, I need to say that this potty iPad is a very, very bad idea.



http://www.amazon.com/CTA-Digital-iPotty-Activity-Seat/dp/B00B3G8UGQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t?tag=ohmy0c-20

Over the last couple of years, numerous early childhood educators have noticed that the prevalence of electronic communication in our everyday lives seems to have a negative impact on the trajectory of social and language development.  It's not so much that the kids are plugged in at an early age, the trouble is that the grown ups don't talk to little kids anymore because the grown ups are plugged into their own devices.

Notice the number of grown ups, from all demographics on the subway or in waiting rooms or standing in line at the grocery store, playing video games on their phones while they ignore their children.  Or yacking away on their cell phones while pushing the child in a stroller.  No conversation = Trouble in Mudsville in terms of language, social interaction and even pretend play which is where the neurobiological foundation is built for cognition, analytical thinking and the successful processing of artificially imposed information like academics.

What this trend means is that the next generation is likely to have even more trouble than the last one in being able to recognize bullshit when they hear it.   The generations since Ronald Reagan instituted Back to Basics and high stakes standardized testing have gotten progressively more stupid, as the state of the nation routinely testifies.

A recent example is this chemical spill in West Virginia where voters have happily elected tea baggers and dumb-ass libertarians who fully believe the market results in corporate self-regulation.  Now that same government is trying to convince them their drinking water isn't toxic.  I'm not going to continue siting examples of the public acceptance of endless war and ecocide because it makes my head explode.  
Fracking,
the paramilitary police force and killer cops,
the idea that Apple, and plenty of other companies like Walmart, are manufacturing these products in China where there are no safety or environmental regulations and working conditions are so bad that worker suicide is common - and we push this knowledge out of our minds every day just so we can live in our own society - is entirely too depressing.
I'm fixing to go to work to play with little kids and make sure their parents have a clue about how to sustain healthy relationships with their kids.

I blame Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon, Donald Rumsfeld, et al.  When the general public can't tell their asses from their elbows, those bad guys regularly get away with murder.  Let's remember that in the mountains of Afghanistan, the amount of minerals used in manufacturing and powering these electronic devices is estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.
Old News from the New York Times:
US Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan (6.13.10)

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