Category Archives: Culture/Pop Culture

HAPPY SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY

HAPPY SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY EVERYONE!

 

 

UTOPIA IS NOT ONLY CREEPY, IT IS ENTIRELY UNTRUE

Personally I think the actual truth lies somewhere in the middle between the hyper-life of the modern technologist and the future will be bleak anti-technologist. It depends almost entirely on not only what man invents but how he chooses to actually employ his inventions/technology. 

That being said I am a firm anti-Utopian. I do not believe in the human utopia (not socialistic, not economic, not technological or scientific, etc.) , either that it is possible, or desirable. It is a badly conceived, utterly juvenile and naive, and entirely impractical idea.

By the way, in listening to him, I can’t help but wonder if Nicholas Carr is not in some way related to Caleb Carr one of my favorite contemporary fiction writers.

 

Brett | February 7, 2017

Personal Development & Philosophy, Podcast

Podcast #276: Utopia is Creepy

A few weeks ago, I had futurist Kevin Kelly on the podcast to discuss the technological trends that are shaping our future. From driverless cars to artificial intelligence that will make new scientific discoveries, Kevin paints a fairly rosy picture of what’s to come.

My guest today sees a different side of the coin, and argues that the future envisioned by many in Silicon Valley is, well, kind of creepy.

His name is Nicholas Carr, and he’s the author of several books that critique the wide-eyed utopianism of technologists. In his book The Shallowshe reported on the research that shows how Google is making us dumber; in The Glass Cage he explored the science on why outsourcing our work and chores to computers and robots might actually make us miserable and unsatisfied in life; and in his latest book, Utopia is CreepyCarr pulls together all the essays he’s written over the years on how the rapid changes in technology we’ve seen in the past few decades might be robbing us of the very things that make us human.

Today on the show, Nicholas and I discuss why he thinks our utopian future is creepy, how the internet is making us dumber, and why doing mundane tasks that we otherwise would outsource to robots or computers is actually a source of satisfaction and human flourishing. We finish our discussion by outlining a middle path approach to technology — one that doesn’t reject it fully but simultaneously seeks to mitigate its potential downsides.

Show Highlights

  • Why the ideology that Silicon Valley is promoting and selling is bad for human flourishing
  • How the frictionless ideal of tech companies isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
  • Why is the idea of utopia so creepy?
  • Why don’t tech companies see that what they’re doing can be perceived as creepy?
  • The illusion of freedom and autonomy on the internet
  • What “digital sharecropping” is and why it exploits content creators
  • The myth of participation and the pleasures of being an audience member
  • Information gathering vs developing knowledge
  • Why Nicholas doesn’t use social media
  • The real danger that AI present humanity (and it’s not necessarily the singularity)
  • Is virtual reality going to catch on? Does it present any problems for society?
  • How can we opt out of the ideology that Silicon Valley is trying to sell?
  • How to ask questions of our technology

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

If you’re a bit leery of technology like myself, then you’ll definitely enjoy all of Nicholas’ books. Utopia Is Creepy gives you a big picture look at all of Nick’s ideas on the often overlooked downsides of our unquestioned adoption of digital technology. Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Connect With Nicholas Carr

Nicholas’ website

Nicholas’ blog, Rough Type

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

 

 

 

 

 

DAVE DOES GIRLIE

LOL!

WATCH: Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl reacts in horror listening to his first ever song

He recorded ‘Gods Look Down’ in 1990

Dave Grohl and Barrett Jones© LAUNDRY ROOM STUDIO

Footage has emerged of Foo Fighters lynchpin Dave Grohl listening to the first song he ever recorded on his own 27 years ago.

Dave wrote the song ‘Gods Look Down’ as a fresh-faced 20-year-old way back in 1989 for his hardcore punk act Scream. It eventually appeared on their 1993 swansong record ‘Fumble’, released when Dave was in a certain band called Nirvana.

In a newly unveiled outtake from Foo Fighters’ 2014 HBO series Sonic Highways, Dave and Foo Fighters producer Barrett Jones cast their ears on a version of ‘Gods Look Down’ Dave recorded on his own featuring solely his vocals and instrumentation.

With the pair sitting at the mixing desk, the footage shows the instruments slowly kicking in before Dave isolates his more high-pitched vocals and recoils in horror.

“I sound like a girl,” he says to a laughing Jones. “I don’t think my balls had dropped yet.”

Watch the footage here:

With a string of European and US festival dates already locked in, Foo Fighters are reportedly laying down their ninth studio album this year.

Forced to cancel their 2015 slot at Glastonbury when Dave Grohl fractured his leg, it’s widely predicted they will be joining Radiohead at Worthy Farm this coming June.

OUT OF YOUR GREAT CESSPOOLS

OUT OF YOUR GREAT CESSPOOLS

Out of the “great cities and sprawling urban centers” arise most of the plagues, wholly avoidable disasters, entirely degenerate ideas, unnecessary wars, vapid cultures, weird religions and pathetic self-worshiping idols, bizarre theories, corrupt societies, criminal enterprises, ridiculous examples of fanatical human behavior, tyrannical governments, and mindless, violent herds and mobs that have ever most destructively afflicted the entire Race of Man.

It has always been this way, it will always be that way.

Individually and in small groups man is a wonder, a marvel, a charitable and just being, courageous, productive and capable, clean, pious, truthful, hard-working, often wise and perhaps even, on occasion, a true genius. Just a little lower than the angels, but often even far more humble.

Collectively and in large numbers he is naive, a patsy and a dupe, a tribalist, a socially warped and serfish coward, self-indulgent and self-destructive, degenerate, arrogant, criminalistic, easily manipulated, lazy, a fool, and very often something of an animal. Lower than a beast, for sure, but more desperate and diseased than a virus.

YEAH, HE’S JUST PRACTICING

So the other day my wife, daughter, and I drive by my nephew’s house. My wife sees my nephew standing out in the yard shirtless.

She laughs.

I ask her why and she says, “Because he’s standing out in the yard shirtless.”

“Like a total redneck you mean?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Well,” I ask. “Did he still have his pants on?”

“Yes,” she said sounding surprised.

“Trust me then. He ain’t really a redneck yet. He’s just practicing…”

NOT FOR YOUR SAKE ALONE

Uninterrupted time with God is far better spent discussing not your own problems, but rather the miracle of the way he has ordered everything. For in the ordering of the Universe lies not only the solution to your own small problems, but the Clue and the Key to His Own Nature, which is the way everything works when it works as it should.

Seek God as He truly is and you will also discover everything else as it was meant to be. Seek only to discuss yourself with God and that is all you will learn of. And in such a huge universe of such infinite potential that is a very small subject indeed.

It is far wiser most of the time to put yourself aside and ask God what He can teach you about everything else. In this way not only will you learn of Him, but also you will learn what you are, and more importantly, you will learn why you are.

On the other hand, it is not truly possible to understand God’s Nature by concentrating upon your own. The man who seeks God will find both God and himself, and everything else for that matter, whereas the man who seeks himself alone will find himself alone. Seek not yourself but those Frontiers well beyond you where God dwells. In this way you will have a home and a Guide no matter where you wander.

Therefore, ask not what God can do for you, ask rather what God is, and what He has made you capable of discovering, and doing. Then for God’s sake, and especially for your own, do it.

LORD CHRIST, SAVE ME FROM THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “ENLIGHTENED”

LORD CHRIST, SAVE ME FROM THE SELF-PROCLAIMED “ENLIGHTENED”

I listened to her interview on the radio as well.

This about says it all: ““Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”

Oh my Lord Christ. No they haven’t and I don’t feel either uneasy or angry about anyone. Except for how they actually behave. The only people I’ve ever heard say tribal crap like this are liberals… who think they understand Conservatives… and secularists who think they understand Christians… and black liberals who think every decision made by someone else is first and foremost some kind of disguised and nefarious decision made about black liberals… or about blacks in general…

You’re so fucking elitistly hypocritical and disgustingly and backwardsly tribal you can’t even understand that you’re so fucking elitist and tribal that no one gives a shit what you think anymore. I’d just as soon see you abjectly weeping in your safe zone as running anything about this nation or the world.

I have kids to protect, and one day, grandchildren. I’m not interested in your “elevated navel-gazing,” or your petty race and class and sex and group sociological and self-sophisticated socialist obsessions. I’m not interested in your fucking race or class or sex or educational level and I’m both disgusted that you think I should spend all of my time thinking about them and repulsed by the fact that you’re so fucking petty that those things are your first, last, and middle thoughts. Fuck em all, your race, your sex, your class, your profession, and all of those pretentious petty tribal things can go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned and as far as most people I know are concerned. So here’s a thought for you sunshine – you’re just a fucking modern pseudo-intellectual with no plans to achieve anything real or important in life so you waste yours obsessed with ideals of never-ending socialist dystopias and endless rounds of sensitivity training. Yeah, I’ll pass ladies. I’ve wasted more than enough of my time and life and resources on you.

No, I don’t want to “understand you.” No, I don’t want to be “understood by you.” I just want you out of my way and out of the way of my children and family and friends. Life is more important than you modern libbies. It’s more important than me too. I know you don’t understand either one of those things. That’s precisely why you are a pseudo-intellectual and a pre-programmed modern liberal. But guess what? I’ve reached the point where it doesn’t concern me in the least.

Nor do I need to be protected from my own values, beliefs, words, or thoughts. By any of you enlightened types.

I have absolutely no fear at all of what you think of me. Or anyone or anything else.

More to the point I could absolutely care less… I am completely apathetic to you. I don’t hate you, I don’t fear you, I simply don’t care.

I’ve outgrown you entirely.

I’ve moved on to far more important things than what you think about what I think.

And trust me, you have absolutely no idea of what I think.

About anyone or anything.

Review of “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” by Arlie Russell Hochschild

September 1

STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

By Arlie Russell Hochschild

The New Press. 369 pp. $27.95

The white working class is so hot right now.

When we look back on the 2016 presidential contest, we’ll recognize a moment when the beliefs and material conditions of low-income white Americans were deemed worthy of popular fascination, cable-news hits and nonstop cultural deconstruction. Are these people prejudiced or just frustrated? Economically victimized or culturally ostracized? Anti-elites or anti-everything? Let hot takes roll down like waters, and condescension like an everlasting stream.

Three new books, works that were set in motion long before Donald Trump declared his love for America’s poorly educated, try to go deeper, with varying success. “White Trash,” by historian Nancy Isenberg, explains how poor whites have been mistreated and disparaged over some 400 years, the blame for their plight invariably falling elsewhere. “Hillbilly Elegy,” by lawyer J.D. Vance, admonishes the poor to shape up and take responsibility for their fate; it’s less an elegy than an assault, though one bubble-wrapped in a bootstraps memoir of the author’s American Dream, from Appalachian destitution to the Gothic arches of Yale Law School. And now “Strangers in Their Own Land,” by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, is the latest and most frustrating of this trilogy.

Hochschild made 10 trips to southwestern Louisiana from 2011 to 2016, extended forays away from her perch at the University of California at Berkeley, to delve into her “keen interest in how life feels to people on the right — that is, in the emotion that underlies politics. To understand their emotions,” she writes, “I had to imagine myself in their shoes.” She interviewed some 60 people, including 40 professed tea party supporters, visiting their homes, communities and workplaces. It is the same technique Hochschild employed in “The Second Shift” (1989), a well-reviewed lookat how couples manage duties at home when both work outside of it. In this case, however, Hochschild arrives with so many preconceived ideas that they undercut the insight she claims to desire.

Hochschild preps for her conservative immersion by reading “Atlas Shrugged,” because we know tea party types are into that. “If Ayn Randappealed to them, I imagined, they’d probably be pretty selfish, tough, cold people, and I prepared for the worst,” this acclaimed sociologist writes. “But I was thankful to discover many warm, open people who were deeply charitable to those around them.”

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A revealing survey of the generation that could swing the vote in this election.

When she lands in Louisiana, Hochschild realizes, “I was definitely not in Berkeley, California. . . . No New York Times at the newsstand, almost no organic produce in grocery stores or farmers’ markets, no foreign films in movie houses, few small cars, fewer petite sizes in clothing stores, fewer pedestrians speaking foreign languages into cell phones — indeed, fewer pedestrians. There were fewer yellow Labradors and more pit bulls and bulldogs. Forget bicycle lanes, color-coded recycling bins, or solar panels on roofs. In some cafes, virtually everything on the menu was fried.”

Dear God, no yellow Labs or solar panels? How do you live?

Through Hochschild’s time in Lake Charles, La., and nearby cities and small towns, readers meet people who complicate our oversimplified “whither white America” moment. Especially memorable are Lee Sherman, who repaired pipes carrying lethal chemicals and drained toxic waste illegally into nearby waterways before becoming an environmentalist and, yes, a tea party supporter; and the Areno family, disagreeing over the benefits and risks of local industries, even as they watched turtles go blind and cows die from drinking polluted water. They are the strength of the book, yet Hochschild interrupts their stories to place everything in a formulaic big-picture context, a capitalized and italicized theory of the right. The author, we learn, hopes to scale the Empathy Wall and learn the Deep Story that can resolve the Great Paradox through a Keyhole Issue. These contrivances guide, and ruin, this book.

[“White Trash” — a cultural and political history of an American underclass]

“An empathy wall,” Hochschild lectures, “is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs.” The author has traveled to the South to conquer that wall, and she constantly refers to it. “As I was trying to climb this slippery empathy wall, a subversive thought occurred to me,” she says at one point. Or when she doesn’t quite get another person’s thinking, she feels “stuck way over on my side of the empathy wall.”

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Beyond the wall awaits the deep story. “A deep story is a feels-as-if story — it’s the story feelings tell, in the language of symbols,” Hochschild writes. “It removes judgment. It removes fact.” The deep story she unearths in Louisiana is that tea party supporters — “my Tea Party friends,” she always calls them, because only liberals rate pure, modifier-free friendship — see the American Dream as a line that they’re patiently waiting in, only to see others cut in front. “Blacks, women, immigrants, refugees, brown pelicans — all have cut ahead of you in line,” Hochschild writes. “But it’s people like you who have made this country great. You feel uneasy. . . . You’ve heard stories of oppressed blacks, dominated women, weary immigrants, closeted gays, desperate refugees, but at some point, you say to yourself, you have to close the borders to human sympathy.”

The deep story helps Hochschild unpack the great paradox: that is, why people living in a region with such poor economic, educational and health indicators — and Louisiana struggles in all of them — still support politicians who call for reducing federal help in those arenas. Hochschild peers at the paradox through a keyhole issue: environmental protection. “Everyone I talked to wanted a clean environment,” she writes, and she spends much of the book chronicling the harm the oil and gas industry has wrought in the area. We learn of the industrial contamination of the Bayou d’Inde waterway, where the Areno family lived for generations, and of the massive Bayou Corne Sinkhole, which swallowed up 37 acres as earthquakes and ooze emanated from the ground, thanks to the screw-ups of a Houston-based drilling company. So why rally for politicians who want to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency?

[A hillbilly’s plea to the white working class]

Turns out, many people Hochschild spoke to simply don’t trust environmental authorities, often with good reason. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources had known of the risks involved in Bayou Corne but had given out drilling permits anyway, Hochschild writes. She also describes the guidelines state health authorities had provided on how to eat contaminated fish. “Trimming the fat and skin on finfish, and removing the hepatopancreas from crabs, will reduce the amount of contaminants in the fish and shellfish,” they advised, featuring handy drawings of how to cut away the yucky parts.

When this is your experience of regulation, the great paradox loses greatness. But Hochschild continues her quest, concluding that tea party supporters grow to hate government because of religious faith, opposition to progressive taxes and the perceived “loss of honor” government imposes. She groups her tea party friends into reductionist categories that sound like they were dreamed up in the faculty lounge: the Team Players, loyal to business; the Worshippers, with their capacity for “meaningful renunciation,” forgoing clean lakes in exchange for steady employment; the Cowboys, who equate risky work with progress and scoff at wimpy regulators.

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Hochschild’s subjects are frustrated by the empowerment of new voices in American identity politics. “For the Tea Party around the country,” she writes, “the shifting moral qualifications for the American Dream had turned them into strangers in their own land, afraid, resentful, displaced, and dismissed by the very people who were, they felt, cutting in line.”

Then Hochschild attends a Trump rally in New Orleans, and it feels like a revival. “His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. . . . Joined together with others like themselves, they now feel hopeful, joyous, elated,” she writes. “As if magically lifted, they are no longer strangers in their own land.”

This may well be the mind-set of some Trump supporters; certainly, it is the candidate’s pitch. But it’s hard to entirely trust Hochschild’s conclusions. Early in the book, she notes how federal assistance for strengthening environmental protections, combating global warming and reducing homelessness faces a “closed door” on the right. “If we want government help in achieving any of these goals, I realized, we need to understand those who see government more as problem than solution,” she writes. “And so it was that I began my journey to the heart of the American right.”

“Strangers in Their Own Land,” then, is not an academic’s impartial effort to understand conservatives but rather a means to an end — an end toward which the writer regards conservatives as obstacles to overcome.

There’s a deep story for you.

Read more from Book Party, including:

A guided tour of American radicalism

The racism of good intentions

The wrong way to write about the rich and the poor

There is but one way to advise – by example.

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