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Television/cell phone-based mind control/dumbing down

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« on: August 26, 2010, 06:11:31 pm »





Is it reasonable to say that TV addiction causes far more harm than drug addiction?
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2010, 10:27:27 am »

For those who haven't already seen the following key excerpt:

-------------------------------------------

Most of the time, energy, and creativity of the electronic media, however, is devoted not to news, but to entertainment. Watching the news is not harmful to your civic health. What about television entertainment? Here we must begin with the most fundamental fact about the impact of television on Americans: Nothing else in the twentieth century so rapidly and profoundly affected our leisure.

In 1950 barely 10 percent of American homes had television sets, but by 1959, 90 percent did, probably the fastest diffusion of a technological innovation ever recorded. (The spread of Internet access will rival TV's record but probably not surpass it.) The reverberations from this lightening bolt continued unabated for decades, as per capita viewing hours grew 17-20 percent during the 1960s, by an additional 7-8 percent during the 1970s, and by another 7-8 percent from the early 1980s to the late 1990s....By 1995 viewing per TV household was more than 50 percent higher than it had been in the 1950s.

Most studies estimate that the average American now watches roughly four hours per day, very nearly the highest viewership anywhere in the world. Time researches John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, using the more conservative time diary technique for determining how people allocate their time, offer an estimate closer to three hours per day but conclude that as a primary activity, television absorbed almost 40 percent of the average American's free time in 1995, an increase of roughly one-third since 1965. Between 1965 and 1995 we gained an average of six hours a week in added leisure time, and we spent almost all six of those additional hours watching TV. In short, as Robinson and Godbey conclude, "Television is the 800-pound gorilla of leisure time."

The single most important consequence of the television revolution has been to bring us home. As early as 1982, a survey by Scripps-Howard reported that eight of the ten most popular leisure activities were typically based at home. Amid all the declining graphs for social and community involvement traced in the DDB Needham Life Style surveys from 1975 to 1999, one line stands out: The number of Americans who reported a preference for "spending a quiet evening at home" rose steadily. Not surprisingly, those who said so were heavily dependent on televised entertainment. While early enthusiasts for this new medium spoke eagerly of television as an "electronic hearth" that would foster family togetherness, the experience of the last half century is cautionary.

Social critic James Howard Kuntsler's polemic is not far off target:

    The American house has been TV-centered for three generations. It is the focus of family life, and the life of the house correspondingly turns inward, away from whatever occurs beyond its four walls. (TV rooms are called "family rooms" in builders' lingo. A friend who is an architect explained to me: "People don't want to admit that what the family does together is watch TV.") At the same time, the television is the family's chief connection with the outside world. The physical envelope of the house itself no longer connects their lives to the outside in any active way; rather, it seals them off from it. The outside world has become an abstraction filtered through television, just as the weather is an abstraction filtered through air conditioning.

Time diaries show that husbands and wives spend three or four times as much time watching television together as they spend talking to each other, and six to seven times as much as they spend in community activities outside the home. Moreover, as the number of TV sets per household multiplies, even watching together becomes rarer. More and more of our television viewing is done entirely alone. At least half of all Americans usually watch by themselves, one study suggests, while according to another, one-third of all television viewing is done alone. Among children aged 8-18 the figures are even more startling: less than 5 percent of their TV-watching is done with their parents, and more than one-third is done entirely alone.

Television viewing has steadily become a more habitual, less intentional part of our lives. Four times between 1979 and 1993 the Roper polling organization posed a revealing pair of questions to Americans:

    When you turn the television on, do you usually turn it own first and then look for something to watch, or do you usually turn it on only if you know there's a certain program you want to see?

    Some people like to have a TV set on, sort of in the background, even when they're not actually watching it. Do you find you frequently will just have the set on even though you're not really watching it, or [do you either watch it or turn it off]?

Selective viewers (that is, those who turn on the television only to see a specific program and turn it off when they're not watching) are significantly more involved in community life than habitual viewers (those who turn the TV on without regard to what's on and leave it on in the background), even controlling for education and other demographic factors. For example, selective viewers are 23 percent more active in grassroots organizations and 33 percent more likely to attend public meetings than other demographically matched Americans....

Habitual viewing is not the only way in which generations differ in their television-viewing customs. Another is channel surfing. Figure 58, drawn from a 1996 Yankelovich Monitor survey, shows that when they are actually watching TV, younger generations (including boomers, compared with their elders) are more likely to surf from program to program, "grazing" or "multitasking" rather than simply following a single narrative. Other scholars have found that compared with teenagers in the 1950s, young people in the 1990s have fewer, weaker, and more fluid friendships. Although I know no systematic evidence that supports this hunch, I suspect that the link between channel surfing and social surfing is more than metaphorical....

So far we have discovered that television watching and especially dependence upon television for entertainment are closely correlated with civic disengagement. Correlation, however, does not prove causation. An altnerative explanation is this: People who are social isolates to begin with gravitate toward the tube as the line of leisurely least resistance. Without true experimental evidence -- in which randomly selected individuals are exposed (or not exposed) to television over long periods of time -- we cannot be sure that television itself is the cause of disengagement. (Since the putative effects of TV presumably build up over years, a few minutes' viewing in a university lab is unlikely to replicate the deeper effects that we're talking about here.)

Strikingly direct evidence about the causal direction comes from a range of intriguing studies of communities conducted just before and just after television was introduced. The most remarkable of these studies emerged from three isolated communities in northern Canada in the 1970s. Owing only to poor reception, residents of one (given the pseudonym Notel by the researchers) were without television as the study began. The "treatment" whose effects were observed was the introduction of a single channel to Notel residents -- the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Life in Notel was compared with that of two other communities, Unitel and Multitel. Though it was very similar to Notel in other respects, during the two years of the study TV reception in Unitel went from CBC only to CBC plus the three American commercial networks. Multitel was similar in all relevant respects to the other two towns, although removed somewhat geographically. Residents of Multitel could receive all four channels throughout the span of the research.

Canadian researcher Tannis MacBeth Williams and her colleagues explained why this triad of towns consisted of a true experiment:

    Except for anachronistically lacking television reception in 1973, (Notel) was typical. It was accessible by road, had daily bus service in two directions, and its ethnic mix was not unusual. The town just happened to be located in a valley in such a way that the transmitter meant to serve the area did not provide television reception for most residents.

Significant also is the fact that this study was conducted before the widespread availability of VCRs and satellite dishes. In other words, there will likely never be another example like this of an essentially TV-free community in an industrialized nation. The results clearly showed that the introduction of television deflated Notel residents' participation in community activities. As the researchers report succinctly,

    Before Notel had television, residents in the longitudinal sample attended a greater variety of club and other meetings than did residents of both Unitel and Multitel, who did not differ. There was a significant decline in Notel following the introduction of television, but no change in either Unitel or Multitel.

The researchers also asked whether television affected only those who were peripherally involved in community activities or also the active leaders. Their conclusion:

    Television apparently affects participation in community activities for individuals who are central to those activities, not just those who are more peripherally involved. Residents are more likely to be centrally involved in their community's activities in the absence than in the presence of television.

This study strongly suggests that television is not merely a concomitant of lower community involvement, but actually a cause of it. A major effect of television's arrival was the reduction in participation in social, recreational, and community activities among people of all ages. Television privatizes leisure time....

If TV steals time, it also seems to encourage lethargy and passivity. Time researchers Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi used an ingenious method to track our use of time and its effects on our psychic well-being. They persuaded subjects to carry beepers with them around the clock for a week, and when the beepers were randomly triggered, the subjects wrote down what they were doing and how they felt. Television viewing, Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi found, is a relaxing, low-concentration activity. Viewers feel passive and less alert after watching. On heavy-viewing evenings, people are also likely to engage in other low-energy, even slothful activities, whereas on light-viewing evenings, the same people spent more time outside the home in activities like sports and club meetings. Heavy viewing is associated with lots of free time, loneliness, and emotional difficulties. TV is apparently especially attractive for people who feel unhappy, particularly when there is nothing else to do.

TV itself is probably not the primary cause of these negative feelings, but it does not help much, either, except as a momentary escape. As Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi summarize their findings,

    Heavy viewers spend more time with TV, but find it is less rewarding....Although...feeli ng badly in unstructured and solitary time leads to the use of television,...heavy viewing and the rapid montage of much contemporary television may also help reinforce an intolerance in the heavy viewers for daily moments that are not similarly chocked full of sight and sound....It seems likely that heavy viewing helps perpetuate itself. Some television viewers grow dependent on the ordered stimuli of television or similar entertainments and become increasingly incapable of filling leisure time without external aids.

Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi report that these psychological concomitants of television watching are common in many cultures. British social psychologist Michael Argyle found that TV induces an emotional state best described as "relaxed, drowsy, and passive." British researchers Sue Bowden and Avner Offer report:

    Television is the cheapest and least demanding way of averting boredom. Studies of television find that of all household activities, television requires the lowest level of concentration, alertness, challenge, and skill....activation rates while viewing are very low, and viewing is experienced as a relaxing release of tension. Metabolic rates appear to plunge while children are watching TV, helping them to gain weight.

As Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi conclude, television is surely habit-forming and may be mildly addictive. In experimental studies viewers generally demand a major bribe to give it up, even though viewers consistently report that television viewing is less satisfying than other leisure activities and even than work. In 1977 the Detroit Free Press was able to find only 5 out of 120 families willing to give up television for a month in return for $500. People who did give up TV reportedly experience boredom, anxiety, irritation, and depression. One woman observed, "It was terrible. We did nothing -- my husband and I talked."

As with other addictions, conclude Bowden and Offer,

    viewers are prone to habituation, desensitization, and satiation...A researcher reported in 1989 that "virtually everyone in the television industry ardently believes that the audience attention span is growing shorter, and that to hold the audience, television editing must be even faster paced and present more and more exciting visual material."...As consumers become accustomed to the new forms of stimulation, they require and even stronger dose....

Like other addictive or compulsive behaviors, television seems to be a surprisingly unsatisfying experience. Both time diaries and the "beeper" studies find that for the average viewer television is about as enjoyable as housework and cooking, ranking well below all other leisure activities and indeed below work itself. TV's dominance in our lives reflects not its sublime pleasures, but its minimal costs. Time researchers John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey conclude:

    Much of television's attraction is that it is ubiquitous and undemanding....As an activity, television viewing requires no advance planning, costs next to nothing, requires no physical effort, seldom shocks or surprises, and can be done in the comfort of one's own home.

Another reason that television viewing is so negatively linked to social connectedness may be that it provides a kind of pseudopersonal connection to others. Anyone who has encountered a television personality face-to-face knows the powerful feeling that you already know this person. The daily cheer of morning anchors or the weekly drama of well-loved characters reassures us that we may know these people, care about them, are involved in their lives -- and no doubt they reciprocate those feelings (or so we subconsciously feel).

Communications theorist Joshua Meyrowitz notes that the electronic media allow social ties to be divorced from physical encounters. "Electronic media creates ties and associations that compete with those formed through live interaction in specific locations. Live encounters are certainly more 'special' and provide stronger and deeper relationships, but their relative number is decreasing." Political communications specialist Roderick Hart argues that television as a medium creates a false sense of companionship, making people feel intimate, informed, clever, busy, and important. The result is a kind of "remote-control politics," in which we as viewers feel engaged with our community without the effort of actually being engaged. Like junk food, TV, especially TV entertainment, satisfies cravings without real nourishment.

By making us aware of every social and personal problem imaginable, television also makes us less likely to do anything about it. "When the problems of all others become relatively equal in their seeming urgency," Meyrowitz notes, "it is not surprising that many people turn to take care of 'number one.'" In a similar vein, political scientist Shanto Iyengar has shown experimentally that prevailing television coverage of problems such as poverty leads viewers to attribute those problems to individual rather than societal failings and thus to shirk our own responsibility for helping to solve them. Political scientist Allan McBride showed in a careful content analysis of the most popular TV programs that "television programs erode social and political capital by concentrating on characters and stories that portray a way of life that weakens group attachments and social/political commitment." Television purveys a disarmingly direct and personal view of world events in a setting dominated by entertainment values. Television privileges personalities over issues and communities of interest over communities of place. In sum, television viewing may be so strongly linked to civic disengagement because of the psychological impact of the medium itself.

Perhaps, too, the message -- in other words, the specific programmatic content -- is also responsible for TV's apparent anticivic effects. The DDB Needham Life Style survey allows us to explore this possibility because, in addition to questions about social connectedness and civic involvement, the surveys elicit information about which specific programs the respondents "watch because you really like it." While causality is impossible to extract from such evidence, we can construct a rough-and-ready ranking of which programs attract and/or create the most civic and least civic audiences.

At the top of the pro-civic hierarchy (controlling, as always, for standard demographic characteristics, such as age and social class) are news programs and educational television. In the late 1990s the audiences for programs like the network news and public affairs presentations, NewsHour and other PBS shows, were generally more engaged in community life than other Americans, in part because these audiences tended to avoid other TV fare. At the other end of the scale fell action dramas (exemplified in an earlier era by The Dukes of Hazzard and Miami Vice), soap operas (such as Dallas and Melrose Place), and so-called reality TV (such as America's Most Wanted and A Current Affair).

One way of gauging the impact of different types of programming on civic engagement (as distinct from simply the amount of time spent before the tube) is to compare the effects of increasing doses of news programs and of daytime TV, controlling not only for education, income, sex, age, race, employment and marital status, and the like, but also for the total time spent watching TV. As figure 69 shows, the more time spent watching news, the more active one is in the community, whereas the more time spent watching soap operas, game shows, and talk shows, the less active one is in the community. In other words, even among people who spend the same number of hours watching TV, what they watch is closely correlated with how active they are in community life.

The clear distinction between the NewsHour audience and the Jerry Springer Show audience underscores the fact that not all television is anti-social. Experimental research has shown that pro-social programming can have pro-social effects, such as encouraging altruism. Moreover, television (especially, but not only, public affairs programming) can sometimes reinforce a wider sense of community by communicating a common experience to the entire nation, such as happened in the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion, and the Oklahoma City bombing. These were shared national experiences only because only because television brought the same painful images into our homes. Television at its civic best can be a gathering place, a powerful force for bridging social differences, nurturing solidarity, and communicating essential civic information.

To this list of shared experiences, however, we must add the deaths of Diana and JFK Jr. and the O.J. trial, all of which purveyed more melodrama than civic enlightenment. The bonds nurtured by these common experiences are psychologically compelling, as virtually all of us can testify. But they are generally not sociologically compelling, in the sense of leading to action. Each episode is captivating, but few lead to enduring changes in the way we behave or connect. Child psychologists speak of a fairly primitive stage of social development called "parallel play" -- two kids in a sandbox, each playing with a toy but not really interacting with each other. In healthy development children outgrow parallel play. But the public spectacles of television leave us at that arrested stage of development, rarely moving beyond parallel attentiveness to the same external stimulus.

Television "in the wild," so to speak, is represented mostly by programs that are empirically linked to civic disengagement. Those program types that are most closely associated with civic isolation constitute a massive and growing share of television programming. "Target marketing" and the advent of five-hundred-channel cable TV portend a further fragmentation of audiences along the lines of social, economic, and personal interest. According to Nielsen Media Research, the number of channels received by the average household soared from nineteen in 1985 to forty-nine in 1997 and continues to rise. The ability of television to create a single national "water-cooler" culture has shrunk, as fewer and fewer of us watch common programs. In the early 1950s two-thirds of all Americans tuned in and watched the top-rated programs (I Love Lucy); in the early 1970s the top-rated program (All in the Family) drew about half of the national TV audience; by the mid-1990s the audience share of ER and Seinfeld was barely one-third. This trend toward market segmentation provides choice and presumably thus enhances consumer satisfaction, but it also undercuts TV's once vaunted role in bringing us together.

Another probable effect of television (not just programming, but also the associated advertising) is its encouragement of materialist values. For example, according to media researcher George Gerbner and his colleagues, heavy viewing adolescents "were more likely to want high status jobs that would give them a chance to earn a lot of money but also wanted to have their jobs relatively easy with long vacation time to do other things." As we shall see in more detail in the next chapter, materialism among college freshmen has risen notably during the era of maximum television exposure, and while in college, students who watch more television become even more materialistic, compared with their fellow students who watch less TV or none at all.

In sum, the rise of electronic communications and entertainment is one of the most powerful social trends of the twentieth century. In important respects this revolution has lightened our souls and enlightened our minds, but it has also rendered our leisure more private and passive. More and more of our time and money are spent on goods and services consumed individually, rather than those consumed collectively. Americans' leisure time can increasingly be measured -- as do strategic marketers --in terms of "eyeballs," since watching things (especially electronic screens) occupies more and more of our time, while doing things (especially with other people) occupies less and less. This emphasis on visual entertainment seems to be especially common among the generations who have been reared in the last several decades. Watching TV, videos, and computer windows onto cyberspace is ever more common. Sharing communal activities is ever less so.

The apotheosis of these trends can be found, most improbably, at the Holiday Bowling Lanes in New London, Connecticut. Mounted above each lane is a giant television screen displaying the evening's TV fare. Even on a full night of league play team members are no longer in lively conversation with one another about the day's events, public or private. Instead each stares silently at the screen while awaiting his or her turn. Even while bowling together, they are watching alone. [all boldface emphasis added]

-- Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone, pp. 221-245

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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2010, 10:31:02 am »

Child psychologists speak of a fairly primitive stage of social development called "parallel play" -- two kids in a sandbox, each playing with a toy but not really interacting with each other. In healthy development children outgrow parallel play. But the public spectacles of television leave us at that arrested stage of development, rarely moving beyond parallel attentiveness to the same external stimulus....

The apotheosis of these trends can be found, most improbably, at the Holiday Bowling Lanes in New London, Connecticut. Mounted above each lane is a giant television screen displaying the evening's TV fare. Even on a full night of league play team members are no longer in lively conversation with one another about the day's events, public or private. Instead each stares silently at the screen while awaiting his or her turn. Even while bowling together, they are watching alone.

-- Robert D. Putnam

As bad as the social phenomenon of "parallel play" was when Robert Putnam's book was initially published ten years ago, it has since become even worse due to the utter explosion in use of both cell phones and portable media players (but cell phones especially):














Pathetic and sad, is it not?
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2010, 10:33:08 am »

Communications theorist Joshua Meyrowitz notes that the electronic media allow social ties to be divorced from physical encounters. "Electronic media creates ties and associations that compete with those formed through live interaction in specific locations. Live encounters are certainly more 'special' and provide stronger and deeper relationships, but their relative number is decreasing." Political communications specialist Roderick Hart argues that television as a medium creates a false sense of companionship, making people feel intimate, informed, clever, busy, and important. The result is a kind of "remote-control politics," in which we as viewers feel engaged with our community without the effort of actually being engaged. Like junk food, TV, especially TV entertainment, satisfies cravings without real nourishment.
-- Robert D. Putnam

The above reminds me of the eloquent distinction John Taylor Gatto makes between “communities” and “networks.” Notice how the portion I boldfaced dovetails with Gatto’s “trout starvation” analogy in the following excerpt (all emphasis original):

-------------------------------------

A surprising number of otherwise sensible people find it hard to see why the scope and reach of our formal schooling networks should not be increased -- by extending the school day or year, for instance -- in order to provide an economical solution to the problems posed by the decay of the American family. One reason for their preference, I think, is that they have trouble understanding the real difference between communities and networks.

Because of this confusion, they conclude that replacing a bad network with a good one is the right way to go. Since I disagree so strongly with the fundamental premise that networks are workable substitutes for families, and because from anybody's point of view a lot more school is going to cost a lot more money, I thought I'd tell you why, from a schoolteacher's perspective, we shouldn't be thinking of more school, but of less.

People who admire our school institution usually admire networking in general and have an easy time seeing it's positive side but they overlook it's negative aspect -- that networks, even good ones, drain vitality from communities and families. They provide mechanical ("by the numbers") solutions to human problems, when a slow organic process of self awareness, self discovery and cooperation is what is required if any solution is to stick.

Think of the challenge of losing weight. It's possible to employ mechanical tricks to do this quickly, but I'm told that 95% of the poor souls who do, are only fooling themselves. The weight lost this way doesn't stay off, it comes back in a short time. Other network solutions are just as temporary: a group of law students may network to pass their college exams, but preparing a brief in private practice is often a solitary, lonely experience.

Aristotle saw, a long time ago, that fully participating in a complex range of human affairs was the only way to become fully human; in that he differed from Plato. What is gained from consulting a specialist and surrendering all judgment is often more than outweighed by a permanent loss of one's own volition. This discovery accounts for the curious texture of real communication, where people argue with their doctors, lawyers and ministers, tell craftsmen what they want instead of accepting what they get, frequently make their own food from scratch instead of buying it in a restaurant or defrosting it, and perform many similar acts of participation. A real community is, of course, a collection of real families who themselves function in this participatory way.

Networks, however, don't require the whole person, but only a narrow piece. If you function in a network, it asks you to supress all the parts of yourself except the network-interest part -- a highly unnatural act although one you can get used to. In exchange, the network will deliver efficiency in the pursuit of some limited aim. This is, in fact, a devil's bargain, since on the promise of some future gain, one must surrender the wholeness of one's present humanity. If you enter into too many of these bargains you will split yourself into many specialized pieces, none of them completely human. And no time is available to reintegrate them. This, ironically, is the destiny of many successful networkers and doubtless generates much business for divorce courts and therapists of a variety of persuasions.

The fragmentation caused by excessive networking creates diminished humanity, a sense our lives are out of control because they are. If we face the present school and community crisis squarely, with hopes of finding a better way, we need to accept that schools, as networks, create a large part of the agony of modern life. We don't need more schooling, we need less.

I expect you'll want some proof of that, even though the million or so people participating in education at home these days have begun to nibble at the edge of everybody's consciousness and promise to bite their way into national attention when details of their success get around a little more. So, for those of you who haven't heard that you don't need officially certified teachers to get a good education, let me try to expose some of the machinery that makes certified schooling so bad. And remember, if you're thinking, "but it's always been that way,"…that it really hasn't.

Compulsory schooling in factory schools is a very recent, very Massachusetts/New York development. Remember, too, that until thirty-odd years ago, you could escape mass schooling after school; now it is much harder to escape because another form of mass-schooling, television, has spread all over the place to blot up any attention spared by school. So what was merely grotesque in our national treatment of the young before 1960 has become tragic now that mass commercial entertainment, as addictive as any other hallucinogenic drug, has blocked the escape routes from mass schooling.

It is a fact generally ignored when considering the communal nature of institutional families like schools, large corporations, colleges, armies, hospitals, and government agencies that they are not real communities at all, but networks. Unlike communities, networks -- as I reminded you -- have a very narrow way of allowing people to associate, and that way is always across a short spectrum of one, or at most a few, specific uniformities.

In spite of ritual moments like the Christmas party or the office softball game -- when individual human components in the network "go home", they go home alone. And in spite of humanitarian support from fellow workers that eases emergencies -- when people in networks suffer, they suffer alone, unless they have a family or community to suffer with them.

Even with college dorm "communities," those most engaging and intimate simulations of community imaginable, who among us has not experienced an awful realization after graduation that we cannot remember our friends' names or faces very well? Or who, if one can remember, feels much desire to renew those associations?

It is a puzzling development, as yet poorly understood, that the "caring" in networks is in some important way feigned. Not maliciously, but in spite of any genuine emotional attractions that might be there, human behavior in network situations often resembles a dramatic act -- matching a script produced to meet the demands of a story. And, as such, the intimate moments in networks lack the sustaining value of their counterparts in community. Those of you who remember the wonderful closeness possible in army camp life or sports teams, and who have now forgotten those you were once close with, will understand what I mean. In contrast, have you ever forgotten an uncle or an aunt?

If the loss of true community entailed by masquerading in networks is not noticed in time, a condition arises in the victim's spirit very much like the "trout starvation" that used to strike wilderness explorers whose diet was made up exclusively of stream fish. While trout quell the pangs of hunger -- and even taste good -- the eater gradually suffers from want of sufficient nutrients.

Networks like schools are not communities, just as school training is not education. By preempting fifty percent of the total time of the young, by locking young people up with other young people exactly their own age, by ringing bells to start and stop work, by asking people to think about the same thing at the same time in the same way, by grading people the way we grade vegetables -- and in a dozen other vile and stupid ways -- network schools steal the vitality of communities and replace it with an ugly mechanism. No one survives these places with his/her humanity intact, not kids, not teachers, not administrators and not parents.

A community is a place in which people face each other over time in all their human variety, good parts, bad parts, and all the rest. Such places promote the highest quality of life possible, lives of engagement and participation. This happens in unexpected ways, but it never happens when you've spent more than a decade listening to other people talk and trying to do what they tell you to do, trying to please them, after the fashion of schools. It makes a real, lifelong difference whether you avoid that training or it traps you.

An example might clarify this. Networks of urban reformers will convene to consider the problems of homeless vagrants, but a community will think of its vagrants as real people, not abstractions. Ron, Dave or Marty -- a community will call its bums by their names. It makes a difference.

People interact on thousands of invisible pathways in a community, and the emotional payoff is correspondingly rich and complex. But networks can only manage a cartoon simulation of community and provide a very limited payoff.

-- John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down, pp. 51-57




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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2010, 10:34:41 am »

http://www.infowars.com/americas-bread-and-circus-society/

America’s Bread And Circus Society

Chuck Baldwin
June 8, 2010

The Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.) wrote regarding the way latter-day Roman emperors retained power and control over the masses that were seemingly more than happy to obsess themselves with trivialities and self-indulgences while their once-great-and-powerful empire collapsed before their very eyes. He wrote:

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions–everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”


It used to be when men stripped their shirts off and painted their faces, they were heading to the
battlefield to kill the tyrant’s troops.


I submit that a good many in America are, like Rome of old, carelessly frittering away their God-given liberties, foolishly clamoring for nothing more than government handouts and never-ending entertainment. Millions and millions of Americans (especially males) are literally intoxicated with sports. Sports are no longer a great American pastime; they are now a great American obsession.

Mind you, this writer has been a sports fan all of his life. I began playing organized basketball in the fifth grade; I was on the high school wrestling team; I played football in high school and college; and I ran track. Still today, I enjoy watching a good NFL game (yes, I’m still a Green Bay Packers fan), a good college game when the Gators are playing, a good NCAA men’s basketball game (especially during the tournament–even more so when the Hoosiers are in it), and any NBA championship series between the Celtics and Lakers (I root for Boston). And I even like to watch a round of professional golf once in a while (it helps me go to sleep when I’m trying to take a nap). But none of the above will interfere with anything that is important, and I am not going to plan my whole universe around any of it. If it is convenient, I will watch. If it’s not, I will read about it in the sports section of the newspaper. And I’m certainly not going to spend my hard-earned money following any sports team (even those I like) all over the country like some rock band groupie.

I am not talking about sports in general; I am talking about the way many American men have allowed sports to control and dominate their lives. With many, sports are not just a hobby; they are a religion. I cannot count the number of conversations between men that I overhear in restaurants, airplanes, boardrooms, and, yes, even church houses, in which every man in the circle is literally consumed with all sorts of sports facts, information, and opinions. In many such discussions, these men will talk about nothing else. To these men, there is absolutely nothing in the world more important than the latest sports score, announcement, or trade. NOTHING!

And there is also a very real psychological pitfall associated with a man’s intoxication with sports. I submit that an obsession with sports gives men a false sense of masculinity and actually serves to steal true manhood from them.

For example, it used to be when men stripped their shirts off and painted their faces, they were heading to the battlefield to kill the tyrant’s troops. Now they are headed off to the sports coliseum to watch a football game. A man’s ego and machismo was once used to protect his family and freedom; now it’s used to tout batting averages and box scores. The fact is, if we could get the average American male to get as exercised and energized about defending the historic principles upon which liberty and Western Civilization are built as he is in defending his favorite quarterback or NASCAR driver, our country would not be in the shape it is in today.

The sad reality is that much of today’s masculinity is experienced only vicariously through a variety of sports teams and personalities. Instead of personally flexing our muscles for God and country, freedom and liberty, or home and hearth, we punch the air and beat our chests over touchdowns and home runs (even though we had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with them ourselves). Instead of getting in the face of these would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., who are doing everything they can to steal the American dream, we get in the face of the poor umpire who makes a bad call or the Little League coach who doesn’t play my son enough. Our happiness, well-being, and mood are not determined by anything personally achieved (or lost), but by what others accomplished (or didn’t accomplish) at the ball park. Whether our children inherit a land of liberty and freedom does not seem nearly as important as whether they make the starting lineup on the football team.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2010, 10:35:29 am »

http://www.infowars.com/bread-and-circuses-gone-awry-mindless-sports-fans-riot-in-la/

Bread and Circuses Gone Awry: Mindless Sports Fans Riot in LA

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
June 18, 2010

In Greece, workers riot against austerity measures imposed by the IMF. In 2009 major social unrest and riots erupted in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria over the financial crisis and the prospect of drastically lower standards of living. The IMF has predicted “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”


Workers angry over looted pensions and globalist imposed reduced
living standards? Nope. The Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the
NBA Finals.


“Similar outbursts of civil unrest have occurred in recent weeks across the periphery of Europe, where the global financial crisis has buffeted smaller countries with fewer resources to defend their economies. Especially in Eastern Europe, the turmoil reflects surging political discontent and threatens to topple shaky governments that have been the focus of popular resentment over corruption for years,” the Washington Post reported in January, 2009. Iceland faced civil unrest after the banksters attempted to saddle it with staggering debt.

“The financial meltdown has become part of the real economy and is now beginning to shape real politics. More and more citizens on the edge of the global crisis are taking to the streets,” writes Roger Boyes for The Sunday Times.

In the United States, riots have yet to break out over the Greatest Bankster Heist in History and the looming Greatest Depression.

Instead people take to the streets and break and torch private property following a basketball game.

“Violent riots broke out in Los Angeles following the LA Lakers’ championship-clinching win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals,” reports The Sun today. “LAPD officers clashed with crowds in streets surrounding the stadium, with rowdy fans smashing windows, starting fires and attacking passing motorists.”

Cops were dispatched and fired “non-lethal rounds to disperse mobs of troublemakers, as a cab was set alight and two newspaper stands ripped apart… At least one civilian was badly beaten and a police officer suffered a broken nose in street fights. A cyclist was also hit by a patrol car attending the crisis… In nearby restaurant La Bella Cucina, customers threw bottles, overturned tables and stole alcohol.” Trash cans were set afire, three vehicle torched and 18 medical aid requests were received for people ill or injured, and eight people were transported by ambulance to hospitals. Some of the injuries were “quite serious,” according to officials.

“It’s these young people who don’t know how to behave,” a woman told the Associated Press.

Imagine how these mindless idiots will behave after the global elite finalize their plan to take down America and impose austerity measures.

Homeland Security and police departments all over the country have trained and prepared for social chaos and violence for some time now. Dim-witted sports fans may not realize there is a storm on the horizon. The government knows it is coming and has prepared.

In late 2008 the U.S. Army War College released a white paper called Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development. The report warned that the military must be prepared for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

In the not too distant future it will not be cops responding to rioters and looters. It will be the military. Soldiers are not trained to subdue and arrest unruly citizens. They are trained to kill people and break things.

       

       
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2010, 10:36:12 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/as-the-united-states-collapses-media-worships-lebron-james.html

As the United States Collapses, Media Worships LeBron James

Alex Jones & Aaron Dykes
Prisonplanet.com
July 9, 2010

Alex Jones gives the inside scoop on basketball MVP LeBron James’ pivotal trade decision… err, I mean, rather breaks down how society has become obsessed with celebrity culture and taken its eye off of important world events, allowing corruption and global domination to take root. While LeBron announces his move to Miami, the mindless sports fans of America have essentially ignored larger problems.

       

Here are people by the tens of thousands begging LeBron James to stay on their team, yet these same people won’t go out and protest the looting of the Federal government, the banker-bailout or even the BP oil spill.

Yes, modern bread and circuses– endless ballgames, television and gossip about celeb birthday parties– has driven our culture to embrace the meaningless, while reducing our consciousness to mindless drivel. America– once the greatest cradle of imagination and wealth has fallen to a land of virtual morons who look up to decadent system-icons instead of leaders who could drive our future to greatness once again.
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2010, 10:37:16 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/lebron-nation-americans-hypnotized-as-country-collapses.html

LeBron Nation: Americans Hypnotized As Country Collapses



Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Monday, July 12, 2010

The sight of American citizens gathering to protest basketball player LeBron James’ decision to join Miami Heat last week, after Ohio Governor Ted Strickland joined celebrities to serenade James in a bizarre appeal video entitled “We are LeBron,” was a shocking reminder of how millions of Americans are more concerned about sports teams than the fact that their country is collapsing around them, and how potent a threat such wanton delusion is to the survival of freedom and prosperity in the United States.

In a You Tube clip that went viral after appearing on the Drudge Report website, Alex Jones explained how ominous it was to see Americans transfixed by bread and circuses while at the same time the New York Times reports on how the country is sinking into another depression.

But how did we reach the stage where scenes from Idiocracy, a satirical movie set 500 years in the future where humanity has “degenerated into into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of individual responsibility or consequences,” seem eerily contemporary in 2010?

Americans are watching more television than ever before, both through conventional TV sets and on the web, as the range of channels continues to expand, the screens get bigger and the quality of the picture increases as new hi-definition and 3D technologies arrest and shorten attention spans to a greater and greater degree.

Americans are now a nation of spectators, watching a shocking average of nearly 5 hours of TV a day, up 20% from just 10 years ago.

Hooked in to this matrix medium that tells them how to behave, what to care about, and how to treat people who deviate from this spoon-fed consensus, people are literally being programmed into accepting a contrived false reality that bears little or no resemblance to what is actually taking place in the real world. This is why the assembly line of zombies being manufactured by this process will roll their eyes when warned about real issues that affect them – the crumbling economy, unemployment, the BP oil spill – yet will become visibly upset when an event that has no bearing on their existence whatsoever, like where LeBron James throws a basketball around, takes place.

We are literally being trained like dogs to react to meaningless stimuli while burying our heads in the sand in reaction to issues of real significance. This behavior training encompasses an entire outlook, an entire lifestyle that people have adopted to the point where their moral compass, they way they dress, the way they speak, what they eat, what drugs they take, the way they respond to events and how they treat other people is solely a construct of the babylon system to which they are addicted.

The fact that this matrix system constantly promotes damaging and destructive messages is why people are fat, unhealthy, unhappy, addicted to drugs, and unsuccessful in maintaining relationships. They are a product of their brainwashing. Downloading viruses from an infected culture on a daily basis, people’s hard drives – their brains – are corrupted, lethargic, and barely able to function. This is why people seek out destructive pursuits that do nothing to benefit their long-term personal interests. This is why people no longer talk to their neighbors or get involved in their communities. This is why people care more about LeBron James than their own country collapsing around them – because that’s the content of the programming they have downloaded.

The controllers of this babylon system have superimposed a fantasy world over reality, they have slapped blinkers over the eyes of millions of Americans who continue to lead deluded, stunted and oblivious lives while the criminals behind the curtain scheme to wreck the country. A perfect example of this is how the government keeps insisting that the economy is getting better while in reality unemployment grows, tent cities pop up in major areas and the housing market gets worse.

When Americans know more about baseball and basketball than they do about their own history – to the point now where as a recent Jay Leno clip exemplified, college professors can’t even relate basic facts about the founding of the country – America is in danger.

America used to be the source of the best and the brightest, but the ravages of a 21st century entertainment monster has contributed to plunging test scores allied to weaker curriculums as American school children continue to be outperformed by their counterparts even in third world countries like Costa Rica.

Freedom and prosperity can only continue to exist in a country where informed and active citizens act as watchmen and women to protect those virtues. History has taught us that decadence, moral and intellectual decay are always followed by a collapse in society as darkness fills in the void that good has vacated.

Americans have to look themselves in the mirror and decide whether or not worshipping LeBron James is worth the price of a destitute and demoralized country in which living standards are eviscerated and freedoms are easily revoked.

Imagine if Americans got as angry and upset about the fact that their country is being seized by criminal globalist interests who want to destroy the United States in pursuit of a global government as they do when their sports team loses or their star player is transferred?

Our job is to issue a jolt of shock therapy to millions of hypnotized Americans who have the establishment-imposed mantra running through their heads that everything will be OK as long as they just continue to ignore reality and keep their head buried in American Idol or the NBA season.

Only through a massive media backlash can we reach people and make them understand that they have been conditioned into accepting a false sense of reality and that real happiness and fulfillment can only be achieved, and that America can only be rescued, once they fully embrace the truth of what is really happening around them.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2010, 10:50:14 am »

Health: Teens & Text Addiction

by Stephanie Stahl
CBS Philly
Aug 24, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― Teenagers are becoming addicted to texting, according to a new study. In fact experts are saying being hooked on texting can be like being addicted to drugs.



Walking, sitting, it doesn't matter where it happens, teenagers seem to need to text. Statistics show 80 percent of all 15 to 18-year-olds own a cell phone. And the rate of texting has sky rocketed 600 percent in three years. The average teen sends 3,000 texts a month.

"I think that it's just like a drug, once you get hooked on to it, you can't let go. It's like whenever I open my eyes the first thing I look at is my phone," said Hermine Vardanian, a texter.

"It clearly fits the criteria of an addiction," said Dr. Gary Small, a Psychiatrist.

Neuroimaging studies show the same brain areas are stimulated with both texting and using heroin.

"In a very primitive part of the brain, the dopamine system gets triggered. That's the general reward system in our brain," said Dr. Small.

Some texting addiction warning signs include losing track of time because of excessive texting, neglecting eating and sleeping, having a constant need for more, and suffering negative repercussions, like ignoring others or lying because of texting.

Chronic texters actually say they feel bad when they don't get a text. All the more reason to text even more people.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2010, 11:05:40 am »

http://www.willthomasonline.net/Attack_Of_The_Cell_Phone_Zombie.html

ATTACK OF THE CELL PHONE ZOMBIES

By William Thomas



They are everywhere.

And they are winning.

Walk down virtually any metropolitan street, if you still dare, and you will discern with a jolt of alarm that no one around you is aware of each other's presence or their surroundings as they shuffle past with the shambling gait of automatons. Hearing blocked by blaring or blathering headsets, heads bent over cell phones, iPods, palm pilots, multimedia players, text messagers and other hypnotic gadgetry, these walking dead with their vacant stares are so far departed from the reality around them they don't even know they're gone.

Cell phone zombies are proliferating everywhere. Spread by the most virulent contagion on Earth - the lust to own and continuously jack into wireless technology - addictive endorphin jolts sent by cell phones to the brain threaten agonizing withdrawal, even as their invisible emanations attack the frontal lobes, short-circuiting memory, awareness and cognitive thought.

Succumbing to the identical marketing strategies marshaled by the same advertising agencies pushing tobacco onto children, hordes of cell phone zombies as young as four-years-old are replacing normal human relationships with the cold calculus of truncated text messages, while disturbing their sonic space and interrupting conversations with friends and spouses to jabber with ghosts who are not even present, even as they spread the blight of their second hand microwaves among the last pockets of cell phone resistance.

Unlike the flesh-munching ghouls depicted in Hollywood horror flicks, which die and “reanimate” through the transmission of the Solanum virus through a usually gruesome exchange of bodily fluids, “voodoo zombies” are created by potions and spells cast by Haitian hougnan priests.

“Zombie powder,” as Max Brooks notes in his essential ZOMBIE Survival Guide, “contains a very powerful neurotoxin” not unlike the pervasive brain-eating chemicals added to food, soft drinks and other drugs - including (as we have seen elsewhere in this book) fluoride, aspartame and mercury. Separately and in combination, these insidious compounds are synergistically activated by pulsating electromagnetic emissions that mimic and override normal cellular functioning to destroy brain neurons and turn people into zombies.

Held entranced as their life force is leached away by devices eerily similar in size and shape to the voodoo dolls used to cast curses, cell phone zombies are especially dangerous, because unlike real Solanum-inducted zombies incapable of expressing feelings or speech, cell phone zombies can appear nearly normal when not jacked in. A real zombie, when it encounters you, “will home in like a smart bomb,” Brooks explains, and start gnawing your face. A cell phone-voodoo zombie “will take a moment to try to figure out who or what you are.”

Smiling a reflexive, unfelt apology for their intrusion - even “growling if hurt or provoked” as Brooks describes - many cell phone zombies “understand words; some even understand simple sentences [and] possess the ability to speak - simply, of course - and rarely for extended conversations.”

TILL ZOMOBIES RIP US APART

While not known to devour human flesh like “real” zombies, their mindless preoccupation with themselves, slavish fixation on meaningless distractions, and complete disregard for their rapidly deteriorating ecologic, economic and Constitutional environment threaten to spill from the worst zomboid infestations in the United States across the entire globe.

Certainly, the carnage caused by their mindless wars against non-threatening nations on which American zombies project their paranoia is consuming bone and gristle, hopes and dreams by the boxcar loads. With more than one million people - mostly children - killed in Iraq since 2003 by zombie-like GIs hopped up on anti-malarial pills and Dexedrine, fear, stress, exhaustion and the potent spells of patriotism and “revenge” for non-existent crimes, America's blindly-following zombie legions are as dangerous to any country they overrun as the horrors described by Brooks in his best-selling account of the zombie wars.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2010, 01:44:41 pm »

http://www.infowars.com/american-idle/

American Idle

Keith Johnson
Revolt of the Plebs
November 17, 2010

Live every day as if it were your last…
and then some day you’ll be right.– H.H. “Breaker” Morant


History is not likely to speak well of today’s Americans.  While the people of nations around the globe stand up to their oppressors, Americans sit idly by as their government runs roughshod over their life, liberty and property.


When will the American people recognize the full frontal assault being
perpetrated against them?


As we speak, large-scale protests and mass demonstrations continue in more than a dozen countries as citizens strike back against injustice, criminality and brutal austerity measures imposed by their corrupt governments.

In the UK, more than 50,000 students recently took to the streets to protest a spike in tuition costs.

In Greece, workers clashed with police outside the Finance Ministry over frozen pensions and cuts in their salaries.

In Germany, tens of thousands demonstrated over the weekend to protest government policies and social inequities in advance of Merkel’s Democrat party’s national meeting.

In early October, thousands of Icelanders stormed their parliament with renewed anger over the deepening financial crisis, and against those responsible for it. Many of their politicians were forced to flee out the back door, where they were pelted with eggs, flour and tomatoes.

In France, transportation and commerce was brought to a virtual standstill throughout vast portions of the country, as angry citizens railed against their government for increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Press coverage of these events gets little attention here in the United States. When the press does cover it, they portray the demonstrators as greedy layabouts who have become dependant on government handouts. In reality, people of these countries know full well that they are being made to do without in order to enrich powerful central banks that conspired with corrupt politicians to loot their economies. The people have had enough, and they’re letting their governments know it.

If only we had the same spirit. When will the American people recognize the full frontal assault being perpetrated against them? When will they realize that, they too, are being made to do with less, so that their corrupt politicians can fulfill the unlawful arrangements they have made with the very same central banks and financial institutions that are bringing down nations around the globe?

Right now, millions of Americans have lost (or are losing) their homes to foreclosure as a result of the same kind of collusion between politicians and the banking cartels.

In 2008, the banking elite threatened to shut down the U.S. economy unless corrupt politicians in Washington D.C. forced through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Though more than 90% of the American public voiced opposition to the bill, their words fell on deaf ears. To add insult to injury, the passage of TARP was actually celebrated by members of congress, who stood at the podium with broad smiles and giggled as they signed the hellish legislation.

Billions of taxpayer dollars went to the bankers to rescue them from foolish investments in mortgage-backed securities. The TARP funds were supposed to be used to clear the bank’s books and free up lending to the American people. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the bankers tightened lending even more and used their newfound wealth to pay debts, acquire other banks, pay huge bonuses to their employees, and engage in more irresponsible investment activities.

To their credit, the American people found the gumption to confront those politicians in town hall meetings across the nation. But the media—being the obedient lapdogs to the federal government that they are—quickly pounced upon these unhappy citizens; labeling them as dangerous upstarts who were working outside the parameters of civil and polite discourse that the government deems manageable. Raising your voice was equated with violence, hoisting signs was considered racist and gatherings were announced as potential staging grounds for domestic terrorism.

How absurd—that the mainstream media would think it could even be possible to kowtow the American people into compliance—especially when you measure these relatively mild examples of public opposition against the large-scale strikes and civil unrest we are witnessing in other countries.

But—ironically—many Americans did take the bait that the mainstream media was dishing out and decided to temper their speech after all. This was facilitated by Judas goats like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, who corralled the people like livestock into GOP controlled rallies that advanced the Republican agenda and insured them an easy victory in the mid-term elections.

Glenn Beck’s “Rally to Restore Honor” summoned thousands of disgruntled Americans to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Days before, he pleaded with his audience to abandon their signs and silly clothes because it was making them easy targets of ridicule by the “progressive” left. The people complied—and when they attended the function—they were treated to a ceremony of military worship and religious devotion to the state of Israel. It was a Hollywood production. It was organized, polite, and nobody raised their voice. People soon forgot about the imminent financial threats that were bearing down upon them. Instead, they embraced what every American should feel good about: a bloated defense budget and a toxic relationship with a country that has caused us nothing but trouble.

Shortly after the Beck event, the left staged a demonstration of their own. Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” was a mockery of demonstrations, an anti-demonstration if you will.

The people who attended that function did so—not to address the criminality of their government—but to mock those who did. They came out enmass to parody the “Teabaggers,” fellow citizens enraged over Obama’s spending policies and mandatory healthcare legislation.

Both events were completely partisan efforts, used to define the line between Democrat and Republican voters. Both events were used to quell dissent and stifle speech. Both were a success—but not for the American people. It was a success for the government, and a major testament on the power the mainstream media has over the American public.

Americans—in large part—have become nothing more than stupid, scared, spoiled rotten slaves to their favorite TV programs, politicians and electronic toys. Accusing them of such is just about the only thing that will make them angry. Americans still maintain that they are the freest, wealthiest and most moral people on the face of the planet. But they are the only ones who think so. In a Newsweek article entitled “Post Anti-Americanism,” Howard Fineman writes:

    “When you read about America in European newspapers, what you are likely to find is a tone bordering on pity. The U.S. is depicted as a fraying empire of obesity, ignorance, debt, gridlock, stagnation, and mindless war. Sure, the iPad is cool, but it is evidence of what America was, not what it will be again. The stories are not angry, accusatory, or even ideological. It’s worse: they are condescendingly elegiac.”

I think most will agree that being pitied is far worse than being hated. Pity is leveled against those who are unwilling, or unable, to stand up for themselves. People of other nations pity us because they see in us what we are unable to see in ourselves: that we are weak.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 03:42:06 pm »

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