Sunday, November 6, 2016

Is the News Media Honourable!?

I often wonder at the senselessness of the whole news media scenario. I mean, what does it mean when the news media advocate the hosting of truthful and transparent public debates or, it is the public interest? According to whose truth? Define transparent? Public Interest?

Yet, as they are part of the whole capitalist for-profit business amalgam, I can fully understand why they say what they say – having a curious voyeuristic and engaging public ensures a steady flow of income.

But, do we, as the paying public, not deserve proper news, devoid of sensationalism, covert editorial agendas and journalistic vitriol?

I guess that the above questions answer themselves but that does not change the realities at hand viz. of the way the news media paints a picture or expands on a story line by using innuendo, by associative insinuation and by the use of flowery adjectives? 

The problem as I perceive it stems from the power base that the news media have guaranteed for themselves by making freedom of the media and expression part of a country’s constitution and thus, a reality that cannot be touched or done away with ease.., and ensuring them of a long fiduciary future.

What other private institution can claim that they have institutionalized protection as part of the Countries constitution?

I guess when all is said and done, especially in a democracy; it all comes down to the exercise of one’s choice: that is to say to form one’s educated (hopefully) opinion or to reject what is being published as just another ho-hum viewpoint?

In the end, neither option brings anyone closer to the actual truth behind the public narrative.

It is said that we the public deserve what we get for fickleness and general distrust rules human nature - Instead of seeing a political narrative for what it is and questioning it thoroughly, we the public rely on others, whom we perceive to have honourable clout, to do the dissemination of information on our behalf.

Maybe the solution lies by the public insisting on the news being proclaimed without the use of adjectives!?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Truth Shall Set You Free

In our media rich world, the truth is no longer a sacred entity but rather a sellable precept. And by sellable it is meant that the truth is malleable and pliable enough to attract flies and dung beetles to it in swarms and hordes.

We the people mostly live by our understanding of that much maligned word. It is that understanding that makes whatever is being sold by the media, a living sensational entity that can incite rage, rabble-rouse, and excite the masses to the point of anarchy. This anarchy, in turn, of course, will be vilified and morally opposed by the same media pundits i.e. moral indignation. This self-proclaimed moral indignation is such a beautiful and attractive concept that we buy into it with open ears and minds without question.

Somewhere at the centre of the whole caboodle lies the truth; or rather, a version of the truth that is so veiled in euphemisms, rhetoric and commonplace platitudes that it is no longer recognizable but the truth nonetheless.

And given that our understanding of the truth is skewed in one bias or another, the propagation of what is real becomes easy to manipulate and concoct. Point in question: Take any news report and read the attached public commentaries. It is said that the truth is stranger than fiction, well, the a foregoing will highlight that quickly enough.

Not that the political fraternity is far behind their sensationalist media brethren. As a matter of fact, it is postulated that the media learnt their trade by watching and listening to the political society at large.

Whether we the people will ever know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is up for grabs. We need to learn to constantly question what we hear and read, to understand that what we are bombarded with is at best plausible fact, and to search for corroborating evidence amongst the maelstrom of out-there information.

The one infallible truthiness is that “Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want” - Clive Barnes.”

And therein lays the rub of it all!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's Revolt: The system is broken

While listening to the musical Les Misérables for the umpteenth time, my mind ran wild contemplating the pros-and-cons behind the revolutionary mindset so prevalent in our modern times.

Historically, revolution, although heavily romanticised, has mainly meant the exchanging of one set of flawed values for another set of flawed values. And this is not forgetting the loss-of-life (the ultimate sacrifice) and incarceration (causal consequence) associated with this accepted ‘noble’ mindset.

Needless to say, I found myself at odds with the whole causality of insurrections.

In a democracy, compromise is a given. As a matter of fact, it is not only a given but a necessity. So much so, that in a democracy very little would work if it were not for the mores of compromise: compromise is the understanding that most viewpoints are postulations on perceived rationalisations and personal experiences, thus the quest for a negotiated deal (middle ground, win-win scenarios, etc) is the primary mover of all thing democratic.

Revolution on the other hand, is the diametrical opposite of democracy. Revolutionary tenets or emotive aphorisms (catchy sound-bytes) rely on democratic philosophies to propagate its drives and ambitions. In revolution there is no compromise. It is an all or nothing attitude using the human emotion of ‘hope’ (a better tomorrow) as its key driver.

Yet, life in itself is all about change and change dynamics. Progress relies on change. Evolution relies on change. Cognitive ascension relies on change. The list is endless and ever changing: as Heraclitus so aptly stated: Nothing endures but change.

The natural propensity of life to change has brought with it limitless avenues of development and evolvement. If it were not for change, the human animal would still be roaming the earth as hunter-gatherers rather than the technological wizards it is today. Space exploration, mathematics, communications and medical advancements, would be mythological ideologies or superstitious maxims were it not for change.

The positives of change cannot be ignored. “Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.” ~ King Whitney Jr.

But therein ends the lesson. Modern change where human nature is concerned has not always been for the better or for-the-good-of-all. Wars, political indifference, ideological cleansing and the pursuit of self-centered insensitivity have intensified, and are mostly driven along by ‘technology’ and greed i.e. The internet came to life as a first world evolution, a boon to the quest for information, a decentralization of human demographics and a noble depiction of the human spirit. Today, that dream is littered with disinformation, plagiarized articles, Trojan type viruses, degradation information, and pirated entertainment clips. One has to check and verify every piece of online-information just to ensure that what is being portrayed and or displayed in correct and safe to use.

It is this very change-ethics that has me perplexed: One, change is a requirement to human development and two, that chance is not always good.

Does one accept a bad action as long as the end-product delivers on an ideal quickly? Does one wage peaceful war (non-threatening, sit-around-the-table engagements, etc) on a moral standing knowing that the desired outcome will take years to achieve? Is collateral damage i.e. loss of human life, destruction of property, causal incarceration, etc, an acceptable risk on the path to achieving an ideological outcome? Is long-term suffering acceptable in the struggle to a peaceful negotiated change? In the end, are there any guarantees in life?

Over the past while, there have been many violent uprisings that have led to a ‘regime’ change. The human fallout in the process has been high and damage to property just as heavy. The final results have shown that the means to an end did not deliver the expected results for the people are generally not happy, and life did not return to the ‘new’ normal. Dissidence rules, inequality rules and criminality rules. Even the ‘new’ rulers are not enjoying the projected peaceful after effects.

Not that I am a true believer in the whole democracy-is-great ethos, for in my experience, if it is a capitalist based democracy, it delivers to the few while keeping the rest in a state of ‘hungry’ ignorance. If it is a socialist based democracy, it proposes to deliver to the many whilst keeping the few in ‘blinkered’ ignorance.

The problem is that violence is not endemic to insurrections: “Politics presupposes violence. Violence, or the threat of it, is one of the principal concerns that motivates people to form societies in which government is entrusted to a central authority – the state. And it is for this reason that the state claims a ‘monopoly on the legitimate use of violence’ – an exclusive right to exercise force against external enemies and its own citizens, when they break the rules.” Ben Dupré.

Let’s not forget that the state is all-pervasive: we are born and die in its embrace, and it extends into every aspect of our lives. And being of human construct, it is susceptible to corruption, greed and power quibbles.

In returning to my original thoughts on the futility of revolutions, I find myself in agreement with Hannah Arendt (Political Theorist) when she said that “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative on the day after the revolution.” Karl Marx himself was reluctant to draw up blueprints for post-revolution societies: it is not our task to write recipes for the kitchens of the future.

Yes, many regimes and despots have been brought to their knees by the force of the ‘annoyed’ masses but, was it all worth it: the death, the beatings, the bloodshed, and the incarcerations? Are the post-revolution living conditions better than the original pre-revolution conditions? Were the changes significant enough to make the vile displays of human nature at its worse acceptable?

Although I am against the whole violence mindset in all its forms, I cannot discard the studied tendencies of the human propensity to solve problems by force. Round-table talking has only served as a ‘deflectionary’ pacifier and not as a solution.

Thus, alas, my turmoil on the whole revolution as an end to a means continues. To my mind the ideal of a better-life-for-all (what an emotive beautiful aphorism, so fitting of our modern sound-byte loving society) will remain elusive for years to come.

In the meanwhile I’ll continue to enjoy the music of Les Misérables to its fullest.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Money: Is it fait accompli?

It is done, finished, dusted. Or that is what is the seemingly future of capitalism is heading towards.

With so much debt being accumulated by the worlds governments, the future of money as we know it, is staring down a bleak future. I mean, why else would the worlds leading economies spend much money on hiring spin doctors (marketing drives, public motivational initiatives, yes-you-can propagandas,) who make use of emotive euphemisms encouraging us to tighten our belts (for our own good of course,) until the present-day depressive economic cycle is overcome and put to bed?

We, the people, are encouraged on a daily basis to save, to be frugal and to service our debts responsibly. We are also told that the world is facing an economic double-dip recession and that we must remain positive until such times as our leaders have debated, discussed and argued a viable solution that will ensure our future prosperity and affluence; all for our own good of course!?

I for one become paranoid when governmental types start pushing blame onto us ‘wicked’ people (wastage, lack of frugality, irresponsible spending, not saving, etc) for the monetary problems being experienced around the world. Not only do I become paranoid but also extremely cagey of verbiage and clever manipulation of words by leaders, politicos and corporate chiefs, when they expound the evils and consequences of the ‘debt’ crisis, for it mostly becomes our doing and our responsibility to fix.

Caveat: there is a reason why the rich get richer and the poor poorer!?

As Bertrand Russell so aptly stated “advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

The one solution is to learn to read between the lines and not be sucked in by the propaganda of deflected blame and implied guilt.

The problem is that we have become so reliant on money in all its glory that changes to capitalism does not sit well with us. We are locked and loaded into the barrel chamber of capitalism. The only way out is by pulling the trigger of change. Yes!?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Climate Change versus Employment

Climate change is not a new phenomenon. It is a weather condition that has been hapening in cycles over the past millennia; and by all accounts, the next cycle has been 50 thousand years in the making.

The bottom line is that climate change is a natural ecological event that is going to happen irrespective of humanity’s effort to stave it off; stave being the operative word.

Global-warming is another kettle of fish altogether: besides it being a natural ecological occurrence that takes place every-so years, it is also an occurrence that is aggravated by human consumption and industrial activity.

On the natural side, volcanic activity, solar radiation and the earth’s cyclic movement through the Universe, et al, all play a role in keeping the environmental scales in fine equilibrium, or not.

On the human side, industrial growth, human green-house gas generation and fossil fuel usage all contribute to upsetting the fragile balance that encompasses the environment, atmosphere and the way the eco system deals with these eventualities.

Although the Industrial Age is lauded and praised for much of the technological development that is being experienced today, it has brought with it unforeseen (maybe) side-effects; side-effects that have malignantly contributed to the many environmental problem and human enslavement being experienced today.

Yes, medically, technologically and financially, humanity finds itself riding the waves of success and development (although the last one is debatable.) Humanity is at an all time high: lofty life-spans, healthy bank balances and prosperity. And now that the ‘east’ has caught up and surpassed western developments, life has accelerated to the next level faster than anticipated.

Humanity has become technologically and information hungry. It has huge wants-and-needs that are being met by extravagant usage of natural recourses and over capitalisation of available real estate, all drawing upon the human propensity for avarice to drive those wants-and-needs along.

The main challenge facing modern Governments is employment: how to create avenues that help foster employment versus creating avenues that produce profits, thus keeping the economic status-quo fresh, is the quandary? It may be argued that other systemic life issues are of more importance but without employment, the system will consume itself to the overall detriment of humanity – the money energy cycle needs to be maintained.

To my mind, all the talk of climate change and or global warming will come to naught if the employment factor is not fixed. A hungry person does not care about the environment. A dejected unemployed person does not care about the environment. As a matter of fact, both types of people are more given to fits of pack-rage and destructive tendencies than those that are gainfully employed.

The South African Minister of Energy Affairs recently stated that renewable energy initiatives will cut employment as renewable-energy power generating plants, besides being more energy efficient, are also human real-estate efficient e.g. wind farms require less human-power to keep the equipment operational than that of a coal fired power station. Solar farms face the same employment dilemma.

With the growth in the human population expected to reach nine billion by the year 2030 (by recent extrapolations,) the employment quandary increases with each passing year. A prospect that is going to place even greater stresses on the environment due to the logarithmic growth in energy demand, food requirements, and other natural resources. A prospect that is neither positive nor captivating for the coming generations of humans.

I am of the opinion that the existing democratic (or whatever other forms of Government there are around the world) and capitalistic energies are in dire need of an overall. These energies worked well during the birth of the Industrialisation age to about 20 years ago. Since then, they have been faltering and overwhelming humanity at a dizzying pace of consumption. Changes to both systemic energies will not be easy, but the alternatives are worse.

Carl Sagan once said that if humanity can survive past its puberty stage (speaking of human development in the greater scheme-of-time,) the future will be humanity’s oyster. Unfortunately, very little positivity is pointing in that direction.

“The needs and wants of the people need to be addressed and pacified. Workable solutions have to be constructed in such a way that either gainful employment is generally guaranteed or alternatively, that a new means of income generation is implemented i.e. doing away with the traditional capitalist way of doing things.” ~ Global Warming: A Growing Woe

But of course, it is always easier to talk about the positives of life and to talk about climate change when one is gainfully employed!?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Menial Work is Dignified

The below mentioned piece of counsel was caught transversing the ethereal space of the internet at the speed of light.

It relates to a point by point speech purportedly made by the multi-billionaire Bill Gates to a bunch of high school kids. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created (and continues to create) a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

The 11 Reality Checks are:

Reality 1:
Life is not fair - get used to it!

Reality 2:
The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Reality 3:
You will NOT make vast amounts of money right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a company car until you earn both.

Reality 4:
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Reality 5:
Menial work is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for menial work: they called it opportunity.

Reality 6:
If you mess up, it’s not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Reality 7:
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Reality 8:
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Reality 9:
Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Reality 10:
Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to go to the office.

Reality 11:
Be nice to people. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Interesting reality checks that are not in keeping with the new-age mentality of positive self esteem and constructive approbation. Yet, all real and glaringly hard.

To my mind, the stated reality checks should be read by all who perceive the democratic processes as being one where ‘take take take’ is the rule of thumb.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Global Warming: A Growing Woe

I am of the opinion that the whole so called global warming/climate change issue is too complex a subject to just apportion blame willy-nilly onto the veritable human being, especially as no real workable solutions are put forward by the activists and pundits of global warming/climate change theories.

We live in a self perpetuated and accepted way of life that puts much emphasis on finances and wealth. We mostly all work for a living because of that culture: Those that sponge of the system are looked upon as just that; spongers (why don’t you get a job, you lazy good-for-nothing so-and-so.)

The accepted capitalist system is devoid of emotion and empathy: two human qualities that make life liveable and mostly comfortable. We are becoming automaton of technology and convenience while overlooking the consequences of those actions (I have money, why should I care.) Anyway there are enough charities to contribute too to pacify that nagging conscience.

I am also of the opinion that the capitalist system as we know it is long overdue for a makeover. The fact that the living-wage gap (rich vs. poor) is getting larger by the moment, is enough of an indication that all is not well in the land of finances.

Add to the above equation an emotional subject such as global warming/climate change and a calamity is created at the forefront of the human perception and psyche. The situation is mostly aggravated by the fact that traditional means of incomes are threatened by the call for closure/minimalisation of factories, manufacturing plants and energy utilities – oil is bad, coal is bad, CO² is bad, methane is bad, flatulence is bad, meat is bad, mercury is bad, sugar is bad, cholesterol is bad, obesity is bad, paper is bad, planes are bad, motor vehicles are bad, smoking is bad, fertiliser is bad, et al.

The above-mentioned commodities supply a large percentage of workers with employment/wages on a global basis.

The call for cleaner and renewable energy utilities is adding to this woe for most of the proposed renewable energy generating theories require little human intervention and hands-on skills (not labour intensive); and are expensive to boot.

Developed countries are being asked to provide assistance (money) to developing countries so that they too can implement ‘earth saving’ initiatives. This in itself is seemingly the-proper-thing-to-do, but the underlying catch is that it’s the tax-payers living in the developed countries that will have to foot this noble expense. It must be said that altruism and charity, although seemingly noble, do not fix the underlying problem(s).

So yes, global warming and climate change is a reality of life on earth. It has been for countless of centuries and nothing we do will stave off that inevitably. And yes, our contribution to that ‘inevitably’ can also be counted and measured. And yes, many proposals have been put forward by pundits and activists alike – some more aggressively than others, to what needs and must be done to put off that ‘inevitably.’

What most do not want to take-in is that the problem is not that simple to solve. Those that are at the forefront of the war for change, are mostly gainfully employed or living of the welfare of others, or living on some plot of land (usually wrongly occupied or left behind as an inheritance) growing their own meagre crops feeding themselves and their offspring: close to nature, so to speak.

What most also do not take in is that there are factors outside the control of the veritable human being viz. Volcanic eruptions, solar flare-ups, earth’s passage through the galaxy/universe, moving tectonic plates, etc, that add to the ‘inevitably’ equation.

The ‘legacy’ issue also plays an emotive role in the whole cry for survival i.e. what of the future of my children, what about the poor animals, etc.

And then there is technology; another detractor.

Technology has provided a portion of the human race with tools that have made the acquisition of knowledge easier and cheaper. Technology has also provided a portion of the human race with powers that were previously not easily enacted i.e. freedom of expression (good and bad,) global empathy (good and bad,) power to circumvent despotism, cyber anarchy, etc.

Technology has also provided a portion of the human race with feelings on invincibility and immortality i.e. blogs will live long after one has expired, I can say what I like to whom I like without fear of physical consequence, the power of anonymity, governmental/corporate feel-good marketing campaigns, etc.

And not forgetting the power that technology has granted the giants of human-thought-manipulation i.e. the media, the swaying of public opinion, bending of outcomes to suit a given objective, popularising a certain way of life, sensationalising a happening for the sake of profit, etc.

I have over the past years made it my business to follow the reasoning behind the global warming malady by reading, watching, researching and pensively thinking about the issue at hand (from both sides of the spectrum.) I have also, in view of the few points mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, tried to formulate an opinion that encompasses the problem as a whole, without going off the activist deep-end.

My take on the problems facing the required ‘global warming’ mindset change always comes back to one glaring point: economics. What happens to the petrol industry workers when the petrol plants are done away with? What happens to the meat farmers when people minimalise eating meat? What happens to the livestock when people discontinue feeding on them? What happens to the pilots when people minimise flying? What happens to the motor vehicle industry workers when motor vehicle manufacture is minimised or done away with?

Thus in essence, solve the economics of living and the problem at hand is minimised!

Although the predicament of the human-inflicted global warming danger is a growing one, being self-centred and antagonistic in forcing people to change their sceptical fearful mindsets will not change the internal motivational drives of the human being.

The needs and wants of the people need to be addressed and pacified. Workable solutions have to be constructed in such a way that either alternative gainful employment is generally guaranteed or, that a new means of income generation is devised i.e. doing away with the traditional capitalist way of doing business.

Irrespective of what is said and done, my overriding opinion is that the inevitable will happen and that no amount of political posturing and or activist will and or new-age bluster will change that ‘inevitably.’

It is the now-or-later scenario that remains on the table.