The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Media Is Making Us Crazy

People hear what they want to hear, or say they heard what they want to believe was said.
---I guess I said this in this way.

English: museum of communism in Prague Deutsch...
 museum of communism in Prague Deutsch: "museum of communism" in Prag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Mainstream media continually attempts to brainwash their audience into accepting that everything they (the mainstream media) say is undeniable truth and is ultimately not only what that audience should believe, but ultimately what that audience in their heart of hearts wants to believe.   And those who consume a limited amount of sources that are skewed mostly toward one bias or another will become hardliners regarding whatever bias they primarily hear.

       Watching the "evening news" is not what it once was with networks now being tentacles of the leftist liberal agenda.  In earlier days of television, the audience was limited to a short window of information dissemination with little time for analysis and commentary.  In our time it often seems that we are delivered far less hard information and a seemingly never-ending stream of opinions and editorializing.  We don't even have to think for ourselves because the media spokespersons tell us what we should think.  No wonder so many people seem to be a bit bonkers as they parrot the words they constantly hear from the media.

       Recently, the hosts of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' were discussing President Trump's efforts to "undermine the media."  Co-host Mika Brzezinski indicated her concern that President Trump was  trying to shape the thinking of the public through his tweeting and public comments.

        "He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts," she said about Trump. "And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job," she noted, referring to the media.
 Real Clear Politics

          Univision's Jorge Ramos anchors nightly news heard by millions of Spanish speaking viewers.  He is a  journalist as well as a self-proclaimed activist and advocate who stands up for his cause thus dividing Spanish-speaking Americans from their counterparts.  He has become a self appointed spokesman of Latino interests which is another dangerous foray into media mind-control of a specific segment of those living within the U.S. borders.  A great deal of the dissent within the Latino community against President Trump can most likely pinpointed on Ramos and his cohorts.  Not good for unifying America.

         What we are dealing with is essentially propaganda attempting to sway minds in one direction or the other.  Though this has always been a tool of the free press, now more than ever, with 24/7 television news/information broadcasting, we are bombarded with opinion and unfortunately that opinion is skewed by facts reported as the networks want us to hear them.

         Here lies the problem:  If we aren't taking in more than one of these "news" sources and processing what we hear through the filter of rational thinking, then we are merely proselytes of the cult of the single-minded media outlet.

          For example, I'll point to my favorite nemesis of leftist promulgation--CNN.  This was my favorite cable news channel in the eighties, but it was also perhaps the only one at the time, or at least the first one of which I became aware.  Back then it was news reporting all day every day and it was fascinating.  I don't recall ever seeing the analysis with opinions and editorializing like they have now.  I'm not sure when it became what it is now, but it seems that every time I tune in to CNN--which is with relative frequency though never for very long--all I hear is an extreme anti-conservative message.  I was rather surprised, and pleased, to see Ben Stein recently on CNN ripping into the network for their excessive negative anti-Trump messaging.  Now if only CNN would heed Stein's advice.

         If someone only watches CNN or other similar outlets, they are going to eventually develop a highly skewed and mentally unhealthy view of the world.  When I read some of the anti-Trump blog or Facebook posts, what I'm receiving is a mimicry of those biased network litanies of lies, misinformation, and distortions.  Too much of anything can make you sick.  Too much untruth and bias can warp your mind.  It can make you crazy.  And this is pretty much what we've been seeing happening all around us.   The world is going nuts and to a great extent I blame the media.  Where else do we get the information about what's going on in the world?

Insecure Writer's Support Group

       Since Insecure Writer's Support Group day coincides with Battle of the Bands this month I'm posting a couple days early.  My posts tend to get overly long as it is without my combining posts together.  As has been the case with my posts, I'm going to tie in this #IWSG post with my current blog theme.

         Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

          Not my original story, but I have used old stories to inspire my own stories.  There was no publication involved, but I feel that some of those stories have been fairly worthy ones.  My sources have sometimes come from stories in the Bible reworked in modern settings.  Other writers have done this as well with varying degrees of success.  Seems like using a time-honored story such as one from the Bible or Shakespeare would be a sure winner, but this can result in massive failure.  Heavy-handed messaging or being overly obvious in presentation can make for a story that is more silly and distracting than not.

          Bad propaganda often comes from bad story-telling.   Sloganeering and repetive ideas can become burdensome to the point causing a reader to reject what is attempted to be conveyed rather than embracing the story.  Those who embrace those kinds of stories are probably a bit off their rockers anyway.   Maybe they watch too much CNN. 

           Do you think messaging from mainstream media is mostly or at least partly responsible for much of the discontent we are currently seeing in the United States and elsewhere?  Do you think there are many new stories left or are all stories reworkings of previously told stories?   Are there any propagandistic works of literature that you have particularly enjoyed?  

Friday, February 24, 2017

Why I Am the Funniest Guy in the Whole World

"Humor is something that thrives between man's aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth." - Victor Borge

       I'm convinced that I am the funniest guy in the whole world.  Why?  I'm the funniest guy because I'm the smartest guy in the world.  Not to say I'm more intelligent than some physicists, doctors, brilliant scholars, or any learned erudite individuals such as that.   There are many vocational abilities like auto mechanics, computer technology, or plumbing that I don't know much of anything about.  However, I could learn anything I wanted to learn if I so desired because I am so brilliant.

       My absolute brilliance is what makes me so funny.  You might as well accept that I'm smarter than you are.  Smarter than anyone anywhere is.

        Take for example some bearded pseudo-intellectual who looks like he could be a college professor or some bogus intelligentsia phony like that.  Sure, he might write or talk a good game that might cause some folks to believe he's brilliant because he thinks he's brilliant.   Forget it.  Not as smart as I am and nowhere near being as funny even when he tries.

         Or what about that new age globalist thinking so and so who thinks science has all the answers and she has attained some kind of moral superiority to others she sees as lesser to her though she might try to portray herself as equal to all.  Some might ooh and aah over her smooth written words, but any really smart person is not really fooled by that nonsense.  I mean, it's all okay--nice and all, but kind of a bore.

         There are smart and funny people in the world, but really no one smarter and funnier than I am.  I don't have to do anything to prove it.  Facts are facts. Alternate facts are even facts albeit they are alternate.  Some who read this might be annoyed by what I'm saying here, but if you're annoyed it might be because you don't get it.  Or maybe you're taking it all too seriously.  Lighten up--I'm hilarious and you know it.  Even if you don't immediately recognize it.

        The best humor is not often immediately understood because it requires deep long thought.  Or maybe not long and deep, but perceptive consideration.  Perceptivity is not something that comes natural to everyone.  Not if literal thinking about everything you hear gets in the way.  We can see this in a good many journalists on an everyday basis if you watch television mainstream news.  They are funny without thinking or realizing they're funny and they don't fully comprehend a lot of stuff they absorb because of overly literal thinking.  On the other hand, I get it because I am brilliantly perceptive.

        Anyone who doesn't realize that I'm amazingly funny is reading me the wrong way.  Or more likely they're not reading at all, but merely skimming through.  If you're skimming through this piece for example, you're liking missing the xjafadisg that I'm talking about here.  If you are reading with even casual care, that is, to the extent of comprehending part, but maybe not all of what I'm saying, then you might be getting it--or maybe there will be a delayed reaction.

        You might wake up tonight or in the wee hours of the dark morning chucking about this post.  Or you might find yourself laughing out of nowhere ten years from now and then suddenly realize it's because of what Arlee said in this current post.  Or even when you are in the far reaches of old age lying on your death bed finally getting what I once said, you might burst out laughing to the astonishment of loved ones gathered around your bedside as you vaguely recollect the gist of what has been written in this post.  Even if you don't remember exactly that it was this blog post or it was me who had said what was said here.   What a great satisfaction for me if you were to literally die laughing because of something I said so many years before.  I'll likely already be dead too, but it would still be a smile on my face if I knew it happened.

      Now, what I'm saying might not really be what you think you are reading.  In fact I might not even totally fathom the extent of my words in this blog post.  Just because I'm brilliant doesn't necessarily mean that I know everything immediately, but it only means I know more than you.  I am truly funny.   Hilarious.  Humor beyond all human comprehension.  Laughable I know, but because it's so brilliant you will eventually get the joke.  Even if you die arriving at the punchline.

       My guess is that someone reading this is irritated and annoyed, thinking, "What a pompous ass this Arlee Bird is."   Some guy somewhere is probably stroking his beard in perplexity, almost angry and brimming with frustration, knowing that I'm probably right--no, not probably, but he knows I am absolutely correct and there's nothing he can do to forget my words, until one day sad and misty eyed he will began to slightly smile and then burst into uproarious laughter that purges his sorrow and opens his heart to the complete awareness of the regret he has never understood until that brief uproariously funny moment when he realizes that the funniest guy in the world was me, Arlee Bird.

     Arlee Bird--The funniest, the smartest, the most acutely aware guy in the world.  And perhaps the most delusional.  But by then it all comes together as the beautiful most perfect delusion that brings laughter to all the world even though no one yet hears that laughter.

      If a joke falls upon an empty brain, does anyone laugh?

      Did this post annoy you, anger you, perplex you, or make you feel anything at all?  What has been the most inappropriate moment of your life when you found something to be funny?   Do you feel that posts like I have written here are a waste of time?   Are you going to waste your time watching the Academy Awards? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

So Many People Going Out of Their Heads! (#BOTB Results)

That is one of most vitriolic statements I've heard in a long time. You've just outed yourself for what you really are. You are an angry old white man. That can't stand either the liberal agenda, or anybody that can. You truly are not the man I thought you were, and I'm done with you.
--comment received on a recent post at TOSSING IT OUT.

Angry Penguin
Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     In recent months--certainly since shortly after Donald Trump announced his candidacy and I hinted my support for him as president-- a few followers have been trickling away from my blog while others have expressed a distaste for my support of Trump.  No problem there since disagreement, so long as it is respectful and healthy, is something I think we can and should all accept without getting whipped into a frenzy.

       However, after the election when Trump won and it was fairly known that I had voted for him, there has been some crazy reaction to me and to some of my blog posts, which I have tried to present with a sense of intentional calm and rationality.  It seems those on the opposition side to mine can say whatever they wish in any disrespectful way they wish while what I say or what others on my side of the fence might say is met with anger and vituperation.  It all seems a bit unhinged to me, but what's a blogger to do?

     Though I haven't unfollowed any blogs, there are a few that I no longer bother to read for one reason or another which probably works to my advantage from the standpoint of using my time wisely.  If a blogger does leave a comment on my site then I will visit their blog and usually leave a comment--that is, unless they've left a comment like the one that opened this post.  I don't want to rile anyone any more than they've already been riled.  If I do visit a blog and don't leave a comment then that would be highly unusual for me, but it would also mean that there was nothing for me to respond to--and this from a blogger who will typically even respond to a post about knitting or something that I don't do or know nothing about.

            And then there are those comments on my posts that seem genuine and intelligent to which I will leave thought out and often extensive replies which I don't know whether they have been seen or not because there is no further response from the blogger who left the original comment.   But more on that come Friday's post...

Battle of the Bands Results!

            My most recent Battle of the Bands contest featuring renditions of the classic Little Anthony and the Imperials song "Goin' Out of My Head" did not turn out quite like I expected.  I thought there was far more disco hate out there, but I guess when put up against an eccentric sounding La Lupe, disco rules. The Queen of Latin Soul in this match was no contest when put up against a queen of disco.

        It was kind of close deciding for me, but the disco string section wins me over more than percussive Latin horns, which I do have an affinity for though not enough to sway my vote in this match up.  And in agreement with most of you voting in this round, Gloria Gaynor's voice was more appealing than the--how do I put it?--the slightly kooky vocal styling of La Lupe.  I never really got on board with that "Disco Sucks" movement and I still enjoy hearing the danceable music that I don't normally dance to.  Sorry Lupe, you were kind of fun, but your version didn't have the appeal for me that Gloria did.

 Final Vote Tally

Gloria Gaynor     19

La Lupe               2


Next Battle of the Bands on Wednesday March 1st

       My next Battle will be continuing on somewhat the same theme as this previous Battle with a bit of an international flair.   It's a well-known American artist's pop hit from the sixties that seemed to have caught the attention of the world with renditions coming from somewhat unexpected places.  It's another "crazy" tune that will tie in with my post that will appear on Monday February 27th.   Before that Monday post though, I'll try to push the envelope a bit more with an absurd post on Friday that might mostly bug some bloggers who might not see it.  But what the heck--I've started stirring the pot so I might as well finish the stew.

        Have any of my posts ticked you off a bit, but not enough to run you off yet?   Do you come back to a comment thread to see if a blogger has responded to a comment that you've left that has included questions?     I doubt whether you can do it, but would you like to venture a guess as to my next song choice for BOTB?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Personal Encounters with Mental Disorder

“I think that we're all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better - and maybe not all that much better after all.”

  --Stephen King

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...
Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was There Something Wrong with Me? 

        When I was in high school I became concerned that I might have had or had been becoming afflicted with a mental disorder.  I felt out of place, unable to fit in well with the culture of my peers.   Most of the time when I wasn't at school I stayed home watching television, reading, writing--doing solitary activities.  Having few friends, I was certain that there was something not quite right with me.

        In my concern, I began doing research about "mental illness".  I read every book and article I could find on the subject.  When I enrolled in college, I started out with a major in psychology with my aim set on become a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst or something related to these fields, partly in hopes of curing my own affliction.

       As I was completing my second year in my pursuit of my major in psychology, I began to rethink my original intentions.  This was partly due to my struggle with the required statistics classes which I could not understand why they were important to what I wanted to do.  In retrospect I wish I had focused better on those classes as statistics is now a topic that does interest me.  At the time it just seemed like another difficult degree requirement that I would have rather not had to contend with.

       That's when I changed my major to English and pursued a general liberal arts education that left me with a fairly well-rounded acquisition of appreciation of fine arts and general knowledge in a whole realm of different subjects.  This is the course I pursued for five years until dropping out of the University of Tennessee just a few credits shy of a degree.

         Soon after that I found myself with a career in show business traveling on the road and discovering that I wasn't any more mentally ill than most average people.  What I had earlier mistaken for "mental illness" was merely a state of mind called adolescence and then later it went on to become aimless meandering of young adulthood.

          Reflecting with old friends and acquaintances as years went by I discovered that not only many of them had the same self doubts and fears that I had, but some suffered to a greater degree.  Through the years I've seen people I know struggle with problems of dependency and depression.  A few even committed suicide.  Some came out of those years just fine while others fared far less well than I.

          I guess we've all had our moments of craziness and periods when life tried to batter us down. I can't think of anyone that I've known who hasn't at least considered therapy, counseling, or some kind of treatment whether it be from someone else or their own pursuits of self-help.  What we ourselves do with major or minor mental crises determines how our own stories turn out in the end.

My Brother's Story

         My youngest brother by eleven years difference began his own struggle with mental disorder after he entered high school.  By that time I was mostly away from home so I wasn't close to what was happening in his life or the lives of my parents.  I didn't understand the seriousness of his condition until after he was hospitalized with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.   And being away like I was, the situation didn't have that much of an impact on me.

         My brother's condition was a great burden of sorrow on my father until the time of his death at age 67.  My father kept my brother in the best hospitals until his insurance would no longer cover the cost.  Over time my father researched the disorder and sought out whatever treatment he thought might help and yet to no avail.  His youngest son seemed to be hopelessly ill with no cure that would even bring a semblance of normalcy to his life.  There came a resignation that his youngest son, my youngest brother whom I discovered that I had never really gotten to know very well, would probably be institutionalized for the remainder of his life.

        After my father died in 1990, my mother was left to shoulder that burden which was a burden that she carried mostly on her own (with the help of the mental health professionals) for the next 24 years.   Fortunately she did meet a kind devoted man who became her partner in 1997 who did help her tremendously until his death in 2012.  And though I spoke to my mother regularly--and after 2009 almost daily--on the phone and visited her as often as I could, she being in Tennessee and me in California, and she received some emotional support from my other siblings, this was still a relatively small solace in contending with a mother's baby who was in such a sad condition of mental health.

        Then my mother died in November of 2014.  Still institutionalized in Nashville, his closest family living three hours away, my brother was an orphan in his fifties.   The responsibility of attending to his affairs fell upon me.  Correspondence and reporting from the care facility is directed towards me and now it is I who is responsible for making important medical and life decisions for my brother.

         He calls me several times a week and sometimes several times a day mostly to talk about music CD's he wants me to order for him.  Most of that CD conversation is redundant if not a bit perplexing to me since he seems to be buying music that he has owned in the past that has been lost or stolen.  All of the music is from the seventies and eighties or newer releases that those same artists might have put out.  Sometimes he tells me about other things he needs like clothes.  The CD's, the clothes, and whatever else he wants or needs I order online and have drop shipped to him at the hospital where he lives.

          Occasionally, I'll try to get him to change the subject of what he wants me to order for him to something about him and his life.  In some rare instances he'll talk about the past or he'll talk about his life now.  Often I don't quite understand what he is referring to or the stories will seem so outlandish that I don't know if they're real or not.  He often tells me about his pain, mostly due to his legs and neck being broken. I tell him that he wouldn't be able to get around if his neck and legs were broken, but that doesn't convince him that they are not broken.

         Some readers of my previous posts of the past week might have thought that I take the topic of mental disorders lightly.  Believe me, I have first hand experience with the subject of mental disorders.  I understand the difficulties that those directly affected by mental afflictions go through as well as the pain and sadness that the families and others might face.  Mental affliction is a serious matter and yet like most serious matters you can laugh about them sometimes.  One almost has to laugh about them now and then.  Life can heap enough pain, sadness, and misery upon us that can wear us away and even destroy us if we allow the negatives to beat us down.  There are times to weep as well as times to laugh, so laugh I will when I feel like laughing and laugh I will in the face of defeat and adversity.  Laughter is, as the cliche goes, the best medicine and that is something I firmly believe.

        I have a great tendency towards being a patient person.  I also attempt to be one who will try to reason with those who are being unreasonable.  This is partly why I've taken on my President Trump Acclimation Series.  I've been hearing the craziness all around me for eighteen months now.

         Unlike trying to reason with my brother, I have hope that some of the vehement anti-Trumpers can be reasoned with.  There are also times I tip to the edge of humor with poking a bit of fun at what I see as lunacy on the left.  Even my brother has brief flashes of what seems like a brilliant clarity that makes me want to believe he's been scamming all of us all along.  However, I know that's not true but only my glimmer of hope that one day he'll suddenly say with lucidity that he wants to come back and be a part of the reasoning world.  When he explains concepts of wants versus needs or contemplates spiritual issues I have a hope that the man that my father dreamed of my brother becoming one day has finally emerged from a distant dim place of confused thinking.   When he comes up with an insightful bit of wit that brings laughter to the both of us, I feel like somehow he gets the humorous aspect of life's darker sides.

          I don't really expect that he will be better any time soon because he has been medicated for too many years and probably could not exist without being in some type of institutionalized setting where others have to make decisions for him.  It's doubtful that he can ever live normally like most of the society around me.

          Then I look at the insanity that is going around in this supposedly normal society.  In my post Is Extreme Anti-Trumpism a Mental Illness  I might have seemed to be making light of a serious situation, but I was indeed as serious as I could be about this current socio-political phenomena.  Consistently taking things to an extreme and fixating upon them can, in my opinion, start leading to some serious problems within an individual as well as within our society.

A Closing Thought with Example

            I realize this has been a long post, but I felt a need to clarify where I'm coming from about mental afflictions and fixations and such related things.  Before I close, I'd like to leave you with an exchange between myself and a blogger who has seemed to have developed what I think is a peculiar almost unhealthy fixation regarding President Trump, Trump supporters, and the beliefs those supporters have.  I've decided to no longer identify or link to this blogger, but as illustrated in an exchange which began prior to Donald Trump's announcement to run for president and continued to shortly before his inauguration.  The nature of the relationship as it progresses strikes me as weird, but I'll let you decide.

        To set up the comment thread, the original post was what I found to be a rather cynical, but entertaining review of the film Whiplash.  Take note that I was interested in the conversation with this blogger enough to remember the initial exchange and return to the conversation over a year after it began.  Here is the thread that ensued with dates of each comment and response:

Very funny review.

I've been hearing so many good things about this film that it's had me curious to see it. Then your review reaffirms the bad things I've heard about this film. I might see this one eventually when it makes it to DVD, but I might forget to see it too. This sounds like one of those films that will end up on my Netflix queue toward the bottom and never make it toward the top because I keep putting other films above it.

Then again, based on your review, I might have to see it just to see what you've described. It sounds pretty crazy.\

  1. anon blogger          January 28, 2015 at 1:09 PM
    Lee: It is pretty crazy. But what I find more crazy than the movie are all the things people who like it are saying about it. It's like, maybe, they are blinded by the music aspect of the movie. Or, maybe, they all had experiences with a band director who yelled at them for screwing up, so it's some kind of "experience" to see the movie. I don't know.
  2. Finally a year later my wife and I watched this film. We both liked it a great deal. Everything you've pointed out above is true, but I guess I'm often more than willing to suspend disbelief for a film like this. I'm not as forgiving these days to suspend my disbelief for a lot of the sci-fi that I watch (which I find myself watching less as time goes by).

    Whiplash was entertaining for me aside from the parts that annoyed me. I can be pretty forgiving about a lot of movies while others (e.g. Prometheus) I find my assessment to be rather harsh.
  3.               January 7, 2017 at 12:51 AM
  4.                I guess that just serves to demonstrate that you have a fucked up, distorted view of actual reality.
  5. (Yes, I am only just now seeing that you left this comment.)

  6.        Have you ever felt like you were experiencing some sort of mental affliction or breakdown?    What have been your direct encounters with people who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder?   Does the example of the comment exchange I've provided seem odd to you or do you find it totally acceptable?