Coincidence rejected

June 11, 2016

Coincidence, I rejected you. How can show your skinny, pointy face here, in Attleboro, of all places? I had convinced myself, “No more superstition for me. A twenty-first century citizen, I live in the natural world and science is my guide. Coincidence is just coincidence, bare and meaningless, unless wrapped up in a coat of reproducible data, woven from threads of strong correlation into knots of irrefutable evidence. Go away. Leave me in peace, you annoying ghost.”

attleboro1984scannedOn May 11, 2016, I was pumping gas into my rental car, when the video screen above the credit card reader turned itself on to blare an annoying commercial. After the commercial, a “news” show began to play, with 10 second sound bites of the remaining three presidential candidates. I thought to myself, “This is just like George Orwell’s story, 1984. I’m living in a world surrounded by screens, all attempting to influence and persuade me. Screw you, you propaganda pimps! I’ll think for myself!”

Thankfully, I was rescued from my depressing observations by the loud click of the automated gas pump, which had stopped at that random moment when the tank filled. Thank goodness. Finally, it’s time to pay and get away from this annoying video screen. I need a receipt, so I pressed the Yes button and watched the paper slowly roll out of the networked and computerized Pump #6. Here is the total amount paid: $19.84, paid in full.

1 year later…

October 15, 2014

So it has now been a year since my friend Tuck passed away. Here we are in October 2014.

I’d like to reveal to you that Tuck was the first person to whom I revealed my doubts about the traditional ‘God’ beliefs. We were both Catholic kids from St. Mary’s parish in Hanover, MA. For a brief time there, I served as president of our CYO there; maybe it was ’63. I graduated in ’64 from high school. We shared a lot. We shared the neighborhood of West Hanover, the railroad tracks, the swimming hole, the cast of characters, sleepovers, an interest in science, friends, first cars, Beatles albums and a love of reading. Our fathers were both WWII vets, who were limping under the burdens of their wartime experience. Our mothers shared that difficult experience, as so many women do, even today. We had common ground. He chuckled at my ability to make friends easily, even with strangers. I was in awe of his towering intellect, his deep perceptions, his quick wit. Friends.

By the early 70’s, I was pretty sure that faith in the God concept was a shared cultural delusion, sometimes useful, sometimes not. I let him know.

He asked me questions, as friends do, but he never took sides in the God No-God debate. He was respectful. The last time we talked, we discussed it, the “after life.” Could there actually be life after death? He winked at me and said, “I’ll let you know.”

The good thing is that I still have the memories. The other thing is that there has been no contact from the beyond. Unless, of course, one considers the paths of the past, the echoes of experience resounding in my head.

The evidence to this point is that there is no after life. You damn well better make this world a better place for our community and our children, and do it now. This life is your chance. Do the important things; don’t wait.

If something changes, and I learn something different about the after life, I’ll let you know.

Goodbye old friend?

October 13, 2013

Goodbye old friend?

On October 11th, an old friend, John Tucker – ‘Tuck’,  who was deathly ill at that time, closed our conversation by saying, “Goodbye, old friend.” When he said that, I immediately felt a sharp shard of memory cut through the curtain of consciousness, appearing in full color, very short, but very real. I remembered a sunny afternoon, after school. We were walking together past Brigg’s stable. There was a tree there, on the north side of the road, sitting in a bit of a dry well, a well perhaps 3 feet in diameter, by means of which someone had carefully prevented the lowest part of the trunk from being damaged by wet soil. We were in the eighth grade, walking west from Sylvester school, heading home.

Reflecting on this memory, I realized that if, and when, my friend ceased to live here on planet Earth, we  will remember millions of events, large and small from the last 5 decades, many of which we shared with him, or in which he appears.  When you put some details on the on the bones of that idea, the details start to get interesting.

How many?

Our human minds, each with its associated memory “bank”, contain coins of existence as memories, each in varying degrees of accuracy, clarity and importance. Physically, we have a perceptual time frame of slightly less than .4 seconds, but I suspect the least time for triggering a perception into memory storage might be, on average, longer, for ordinary moment-to-moment living. For the sake of exploration, let’s say storage to memory requires about 5 seconds, a time frame which allows us to recognize an event plus some time to recognize our own physical and emotional reaction to the incoming perception. That gives us an opportunity to record some memory of it, in the form of a memory of sound, sight, smell, taste and touch. Most of these brief storages will fade, or disappear completely, if not actively gathered, reinforced or re-remembered. Some just live on, for whatever reason, reinforced or not. Still, there are about 12 ‘units’ of memory possible to perceive and store per minute, if the reader will allow me the approximation.

12 per min. X 60 min. per hour X 24 hours per day X 365 days per year X 50 years is what?

315, 360,000 memory opportunities in all, which is more than 6.3 million such possibilities per year.

Now, of the 52 years of opportunities available, Tuck and I had spent perhaps 10 of them in constant daily contact, or nearly so. Then we interacted on several thousands of other occasions over the years. Let’s estimate it conservatively at 7 years of contact. Multiply that by 6 million and we end up with 42 million possible triggers for recalling a memory. Many of those are kept alive and, in continuity, for retrieval, deliberately or spontaneously. That is a staggering measure of memory coins. If those memories were miles, we could ascend to the moon 190 times.

Now it is true that Tuck and I did not reinforce and recall all memories of each other every day. Some memories are just not that relevant to our lives in a way that merits recall and reinforcement. Nonetheless, I say that I think of him, still, at least in a passing way, at least once a week, often more. I often think of him in regards to something current, often in a mode like this: my friend spoke about this category, and he might say this, or react in such-and-such a way to an idea like that. I compare each of life’s new event against the history of my interactions with him. Sometimes I think of him, when I’m ruminating about Music, Photography, Tools, Woodworking, Bicycling, Politics, Handshakes, Hugs, Love, Differences, Friendship, Living Quarters, Happiness, Stress, Places, Professional Life, Meals, Tools, Books, Discussions, Snow Removal, and the list goes on an on, in a finite but very long list.

So when he has drawn his last breath, his friends will be holding a gigantic treasure trove of these memories, and these memories will persist as long we still have our mental marbles to move in the game of human experience. I imagine that it will seem to me that my friend will remain, and he will be absent, simultaneously.

Ain’t it just like life to be so wonderful, yet contradictory and hard to comprehend?

10/13/2013

Stand your ground, or change your mind?

April 8, 2012

zimmerman mug shot, color red, with date 2012In 2009, I wrote about the day when I realized some of my friends were viewing me through the lens of stereotype, at a previous post.  The observation affected me powerfully when I realized how stereotypes impact perception.  What one believes is not necessarily true.  Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, says he warned his son about stereotypes.

Recently, I connected the  political stereotypes of my experience with the stereotypes that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.  I was not there, and my knowledge of the incident comes only from reading a few dozen news reports, and without TV.  I don’t  have television service by choice.  So if I make a mistake, please comment, so that I can realize my error, and change the post here.

A person’s behavior might match a stereotype in your mind, or maybe not.  Without personal experience to support the stereotype, or undermine it, a stereotype can be a very evil thing.

I read that Zimmerman believed he was volunteering his time as part of a neighborhood protection group.  In an interview with the head of that Florida group, I heard that it was not an official Neighborhood Watch group.  Either way, I think that Zimmerman, in his mind, was protecting his neighborhood, because of a series of burglaries.

I also read that Zimmerman said “Punks.” in his recorded dialog with the police.

So Zimmerman suspected that Martin was a punk and a burglar.

That means Zimmerman was applying two powerful and negative stereotypes to Martin, even though they had not met, and they had not talked at any time before that night.  The only evidence, at least the only evidence of which we are aware, is that Martin was walking in the dark in Zimmerman’s ‘neighborhood’.

So when Zimmerman applied those two stereotypes to Martin, he set the stage for murder.  Zimmerman’s beliefs caused him to act, in spite of whatever the truth of the situation was.  The police told Zimmerman, “we don’t need you to follow him” [Martin].  Unfortunately, Zimmerman’s beliefs caused him not to listen to us, the real people of the world.

In my case, in 2009 I only had to worry about what was going on in the minds of my friends, so the stereotypes might have social consequences. Yes, my friends did have licenses for weapons, but politics is not a cause for shooting, not here in Massachusetts. Also, they have known me for a long time and have other knowledge beyond the political stereotypes of  Yankee Liberal versus Tea Party Birther.  Trayvon Martin, and all of us who step outside our homes after dark, now have to worry about being murdered, summarily executed, based on fears in the mind of a stranger.

This is a very bad situation.  If you still support the “Stand Your Ground” approach to law, would you please reconsider your support for such laws? Or at least consider how we could modify them for improvements, perhaps requiring some type of objective, observable facts to support the theory that the mind of the shooter is correctly perceiving the world?   For example, if the shooter is off  his medications, and is fearful about something that exists only in his mind, does he still have the right to pull the trigger?   Wouldn’t you agree that just being fearful, regardless of circumstance,  is insufficient evidence for killing another human being?

When the only knowledge which you possess about a human being consists of categorizations and stereotypes, you may lead yourself into an evil act. What stereotypes sit behind your eyes, coloring your perceptions, and changing your behavior when you meet strangers?

How many of the things that you believe about people are not really true?

Jay Fulton

How will you “say” 2010 in the new year? (Poll)

December 31, 2009

Will you say “Two Thousand Ten”?

Will you say “Twenty Ten”?


Blackberry for a eulogy

December 26, 2009

“Standing at the pulpit, looking down at the tiny handheld device, that blackberry screen looked like a postage stamp and the letters of Meg’s words looked like scrimshaw scratches on a 200-year-old tusk.”

It’s not easy to read a eulogy from a blackberry, but I did it when I had to do it.  Recently, my younger sister Kathy Fulton died and then her daughter’s family held a beautiful service at Saint Anthony’s church in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  (Thank you, Freitas Family!).  Our  cousin, Meg Schwemmer, had a long friendship with Kathy, but was unable to attend the services, due to her work at the college where she is employed.  So Meg wrote a letter to represent her feelings.

Her letter was heartfelt and well written.  Kathy’s daughter decided to have it read at the service.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really “get it” that I would be the one to read it, so I had given away my printed copies of the letter to friends and relatives at the wake.  I arrived at the church to discover that I was to read the letter that I no longer had in my possession.

The only tool available was my Blackberry.  I moved to google’s gmail app.  I found the email with the letter attached.  I launched the attachment.  There was the letter staring up at me from the tiny window. When called,  I walked to the pulpit, breaking all the protocols by neglecting to genuflect in front of the twice life-size painting of Our Lady of Fatima.  I thought to myself, “If god actually exists, this church will tumble and fall down upon us all, because a non-theist is standing here  on his home turf!”  Oh well,  both the church and I are standing today – for whatever that’s worth.

imagin reading from a blackberry screenStanding at the pulpit, looking down at the tiny handheld device, that blackberry screen looked like a postage stamp and the letters of Meg’s words looked like scrimshaw scratches on a 200 year old tusk.  Why couldn’t I have a mail-enabled kindle-sized screen!?!

Luckily I had read it over several times, so I just did the best I could.  At one point, a tear fell on the screen and I had to brush it away with the edge of my shirtsleeve to continue. This proves that it’s possible to read a eulogy from a blackberry, although it’s difficult, not kidding about that.  May you never have to utter a sentence that contains both of these words: blackberry and eulogy.

Here is the text of Meg’s letter:

December 8, 2009

Although I can’t be there with all of you today, I hope you’ll allow me to share a few thoughts about my dear cousin, friend, and near-sister Kathie. Qualities that drew me into Kathie’s World were her sense of humor and ironic view of life. I grew up knowing that type of humor in my Mother. Also, Kathie had a funny way of combining cynicism and romanticism. Her inner adolescent was never far from the surface. How could I not be totally disarmed by someone who believed that the only reason she and Steven Tyler weren’t close friends – or maybe more than close – was that they hadn’t yet met in a grocery store or restaurant? She always seemed to believe that winning the lottery was only a day away – and you know that she would have shared every last dime with all of you! She took the greatest pleasure in being generous when she could be. Even when she had a dreadful day, full of pain, she never failed to ask, “And how are you, Dear?”

Like many good Irish-folk, Kathie could nurse a grudge, but she also savored and celebrated every kindness. I think Kathie often looked at the world as an outsider. It seemed like a lot of the movies she recommended to me over the years were about people who didn’t fit in but triumphed and found happiness in the end. One was “Shallow Hal”, which she told me about in great detail. Just this Thanksgiving she gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” with Don Knotts. I thought it was going to be corny, but I watched it anyway. She was right, it was quite touching.

As recently as two weeks ago, Kathie was unwilling to think in terms of her condition being permanent, much less terminal. The miracle of getting better was elusive, but it was right around the bend. That particular miracle was not to be. And yet there are miracles all around us. The fact that our planet, of all the planets in the universe, holds life in such abundance and amazing variety is a miracle. The fact that we have an inborn capacity to know and share love is a miracle. All that is fine in our world comes from love. I don’t mean romantic love; I mean the roll up your sleeves and get messy love. The kind that involves caring and listening and understanding and reaching out and overlooking foolishness, crankiness, and human weakness. The kind that shares the laughter and the tears as well. Maybe the miracle isn’t saving the earthly life of our friend Kathie. Maybe the miracle is family and friends around her bedside, and bringing everyone together at a time when the need for love and understanding is so very evident. Miracles happen every day when we are sharing our love with all the people and causes in our lives. I know for certain that she felt Tenaya and Michael’s little Hannah is a miracle. Kathie fought hard to be here long enough to get to hold her Granddaughter!

We are surely going to miss her! While my hands were usually doing some task or other while we were talking – she often teased me about that – my mind needed those frequent visits to Kathie’s World. Somehow, even when she was needy, she gave more than she took because she was so grateful, always.

I love each of you for all the ways you showed Kathie love during her life. You all enriched her time on earth in countless special ways. I celebrate that I had Kathie in my life, and I wish I could be there to witness the love that you are showing one another today because she loved you and you loved her. I know you’ll be okay because you have each other and that common bond. God bless you all!

Love, Meg

It’s ironic that I would be called on to read that letter, because I was the most distant of brothers for the last 10 year or so.  When I realized that she was losing the battle to metabolic syndrome, which would lead her inevitably to diabetes, we had a falling out. I tried to point out to her that constant drinking of soda pop would kill her.  She disregarded my words.  I told her that change could be difficult, but the taste of change was sweet.  She declined. My heart went cold; I knew it was only a matter of time between that moment and her death.  I specifically asserted that diabetes was preventable.  The gulf between us was a wide as the solar system.

All I can say to you is, please, please, drink water and balance your food intake. I’m tired of watching my relatives die of adult onset diabetes.  And the devil’s dance continues even now.  My cousins and my niece are still drinking soda today.  There’s plenty of evidence that metabolic syndrome usually precedes diabetes. Sadly, it seems not to matter what I say.  Maybe by chance some reader will stumble upon this blog entry and will benefit from the information.

thanks for reading.

Strunk & White meet at the corner of Pinker and Topology

November 29, 2009

While reading my old copy of the “The Elements of Style” (Strunk & White), 3rd edition,  I recognized a connection to an idea from the work of Stephen Pinker.

Where?

Here.  “Some nouns that appear to be plural are usually construed as singular, and given a singular verb”, followed by two examples of the singular verb and one of the plural verb. Following these examples,  Strunk wrote what he believed to be true, “In these cases the writer must simply learn the idioms. The contents of a book is singular. The contents of a jar may either singular or plural, depending on what’s in the jar – jam or marbles.”

While it is true that immersion in language with other speakers in shared language will lead you to “learn the idioms, ” Pinker has pointed out that there are discoverable, logical explanations for whether to describe the contents of containers as singular or plural.  I’m looking for my copy of his “Stuff of Thought” and detail these ideas more thoroughly.  But for now, let’s get started.

If a substance is continuous at the level of human sense perception it is singular. This would be Strunk’s jam.  This applies to continuous processes by way of metaphor also.  In contrast, if a substance is an aggregate of perceptibly separate components, they are plural.   Now I realize that perceptibility varies a lot, but let’s avoid the microscopes and telescopes, and stick to the senses of touch, sight and hearing for now.

The relevant concepts of “mass nouns” and “count nouns” can be found in Pinker’s chapter “Cleaving the Air”, page 166 of my paperback copy of the book.   I’ll come back to refine this and support my idea that Strunk’s suggestion to learn the idioms is an inadequate description of what we really do with words and concepts of plurality, as expressed in the relationships of sentence subjects and their verbs.

The way we perceive nouns, and the verbs that act on them, depend on concepts of bounded objects vs. mass objects.  Each marble is an object with boundaries.  When the question arises, “what’s in the jar?”, we say “Marbles are in the jar.”   But when jam is in the jar, or paint is in the can, or water is in the glass,  we use the singular form of the verb, is.  So when we perceive the contents of the jar as a mass object, a continuous substance, we go singular.  When we’re talking about something we perceive as a collection of boundaried objects, they are plural.  Now it won’t take you long to realize that we humans can change our frame of reference. When we do that,  suddenly we can can change the plurality of the matching verb to match our new frame of reference.  Telescopes and microscopes do that; similarly,  so does analysis and overview.  Consider these two examples. Voters are considering.  The electorate is pondering.   Look in your own writing, in your own mental cabinets, for more examples.

The best discussion of these notions that I’ve ever seen is in Pinker’s book.  I recommend it highly.  Get it out of the library, or online, but get it.  It has new ideas, presented with supporting evidence.

I honestly believe Mr Strunk would have thoroughly enjoyed the explorations of modern liguists, and heartily approved of their research.   There’s more to it, than “go learn the idioms,” and the more of it is very interesting indeed.

Jay Fulton 11/29/2009

Proud_member_of_Adriennes_Army

March 8, 2009
Proud Member of Adrienne's Army

Proud Member of Adrienne's Army

“Adrienne’s Army,” you ask?

There is an interesting quality of human understanding, that we can often underestimate the impact of small things we do.  That is not to say that every little choice you make turns out to be significant. Life is not so simple! It’s that you are unlikely to know -in advance- which one of your action-choices will have a big impact on the other people with whom you interact.

This is why courtesy is so important. YOU or I are unable to estimate in advance the impact of our actions.   So, small positive choices are the way to go! Help others without expectation of gain.

And the details are…

About a year ago, we had been in touch with our neighbor, Adrienne Smith, because she was sick, doing some babysitting for her.  Little did we know then that the sickness would send Adrienne into life-threatening coma resulting from the total collapse of her immune system under attack from a variation of strep, a result of what started as a strep throat. Within hours an army of volunteers and well-wishers were stepping up to serve in various ways.  Friends, relatives and acquaintances took thousands of small actions, food, visits, child-care, love & attention, prayers – each according to their understanding and ability. Jim’s mom prepared a list of contacts with phone numbers; people cooperated and collaborated.  Grandmothers and grandfathers dropped everything to be there, stay with the kids, and provide support.  They communicated not just by phone & face-to-face, but texting & email, churches formed “prayer groups” and members of yoga centers meditated,  creating a world wide web of well-wishers.  Meanwhile, at the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Doctors Jon Pehrson and Alice Coombs were coordinating powerful practices of medical science to keep Adrienne alive against what can truly be described as staggering odds.  Amazingly, Adrienne’s employer Oxfam America supported her, specifically Ray Offenheiser and senior staff, during the entire illness; praise them & consider them for your future social action partnerships! Together this spontaneously assembled group of people in action became Adrienne’s Army.

The outcome of all the efforts is that Adrienne returned to life & home.  After reflecting on the situation, she made us all aware that an impromptu army had sprung up to defend her home, hearth and the hospital space in which her incredible life and death drama unfolded.

Adrienne has started talking “write a book” about that drama and about the shared experience of hundreds of helpers. No one knows what’s inside the book “Adrienne’s Army” yet, but we already know the outline of the wonderful story.  Two of our culture’s master story tellers, Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, pointed out that great drama has the elements of life, death and resurrection.  Adrienne’s story has all of those elements, potentially a best-seller and a  movie to follow.  Great stories take the listener to the despair’s depths and soaring heights before the dénouement.  And Adrienne’s story has that and also happens to have a happy ending!

Jim Smith, Adrienne’s husband, threw a surprise party to celebrate her one-year-at-home; invitations were handled by the evite web site under Event: Adrienne’s Army Celebration.  Lori Murphy,  of the Bryantville Deli, another neighbor, provided the food for the celebration.  Please post your party photos at evite!    My comment is that we are seeing the new digital tools being utilized, along with the older social tools, to empower a new, powerful, dynamic method of people helping each other.  Imagine a world in which armies emerge spontaneously, and appropriately, to lend a hand when someone has a true need,   flashing into existence when needed.  Could that be why people love digital space? Because it enables them to do respond quickly to needs?

Psychiatrist knits anatomically correct woolly brain

January 17, 2009

check this out :

Psychiatrist knits anatomically correct woolly brain

This relates to the ancient art of tapestry as information system, doesn’t it? What other information in fabric ideas are possible? Could a knitted object be both functional as clothing and carry elaborate information? Sure why not; think reindeer sweater. But….. Let’s say you’re going for a walk in a special place… maybe Harvard Square, maybe the Library of Congress, maybe the Mall of America… Can you put on your knitted sweater/shirt which has a map of the place woven on the sleeve. Would someone buy a sweater that the wearer can use to have relevant local information placed so that the wearer herself can see the info at a glance. This is different than projecting a Tommy Hillfiger logo out to the world from your chest, from which point is invisible to you without a mirror – and useless to boot.

Why not carry important information embedded durably into the fabric of your clothing where it’s convenient for YOU to see it? Such information would be facing you, and illegible to others, unless they looked hard and long. Embed the information in a decorative shape, upside-down, on your right and left sleeves. Then, from the point of view of the 3rd party, a casual glance would reveal only the shape to the mind of the casual observer. However, you – the wearer – looking down at your sleeves could easily perceive and use the information stored there. What would be useful on the sleeves of a fall sweater or knitted shirt? maybe…

* Small images of birds and their names for bird-watchers.

* A map of  your college  campus buildings and important phone numbers & websites, for incoming freshmen.

* A selection of jokes that you like to tell, so that you tell them correctly, this time.

* A map of World’s End for hikers, to be sold at the entrance to the park,  or any park

* A list of songs pre-arranged in sets for band members

* A map of the golf course on which you will play

* The rules of Scrabble for gamers for those winter evening competitions

* The names and birthdays of your family & friends

* A shopping list of what we usually buy at the food store

* The phone numbers and take-out menus of your favorite restaurants.

* A map of the aisles in a supermarket, such as Whole Foods, Walmart (dang! where are the light bulbs in this damn store)

* Images and pictures created by your favorite artists

* A map of Disneyworld for vacationers who go there, any tourist destination

* The train schedule for the commuter rail line that you ride.

* A map of the MBTA/Regional transit lines and their stations.

* Calendars for this year 2009, and the next six years after that.

* Calendar of the phases of the moon for this year and the next 6 years after that

* Tide charts for fishermen to wear on fishing trips

* A map of the I-95 and other major east coast highways (long and skinny) for long distance driving.

* A map of a congressional district for political organizers

* The names of the players on the Red Sox for accuracy in Sports conversations.

* The upcoming schedule of the New England Patriots football team !!

* All the prayers and responses needed for a church service for churchgoers.

* A vocabulary list of Spanish language numbers and basic words for a traveler.

* The cell phone numbers of everybody I want to call, or might need to call.

* A new year’s resolution to remind the weak-willed, memory-challenged self-improvement buffs.

* The main categories of the Dewey decimal system for librarians and book-shelvers.

* The names of your distant relatives, whom you see infrequently, for a family party.

* The names of participants in the wedding party for a long lasting gift.

* The names of all your neighbors and their children, in case of a conversations that occur when you go for a walk. 1 sweater for each neighborhood.

* Word lists to memorize for spelling bees

* The correct definitions for words that get frequently misused, maybe by you.

* The correct spellings of commonly misspelled words

* The basic rules of grammar for writers

* The personal identity info and emergency contact numbers to be worn by someone with alzheimers.

* Ditto for children

* A list of my previous failures, to remind myself to avoid repeating mistakes, again. (at least the major ones might fit)

Can you add any creative or useful ideas for information knitted into the sleeves of your clothing?

Jay

To which political messages will you listen? The “fairness” doctrine…

January 14, 2009

Recently, I’ve noticed two political talk show hosts talking about the Fairness Doctrine.  When both Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh denounce something, it makes me wonder what’s going on with this topic. Or was it the Equal Time Rule?

Do you remember the old days when some media (television? radio?) apparently had some kind of legal obligation to air opposing political views? I actually don’t remember a lot about it. Do you? Then recently, at a party, one of my oldest friends brought up the idea again.  Now, I’m looking.  My friend was specifically saying that since Air America syndicated radio shows flopped in the radio market, that proved that the topics handled by them were proven failures.  Commercial advertisers didn’t support Air America by purchasing advertising, but they would support Rush Limbaugh.  Therefore – I’m not sure what exactly – perhaps political ideas not supported  by paid advertising naturally disappear from the air waves, and that disappearance is the way things should be. Was that how it happened?

Or…… was it because Air America never drew an audience large enough to be worth while for a commercial advertiser? Do you know?

Personally,  I am not comfortable with many of the political messages I hear coming out of the mouth of Michael Savage  and Rush Limbaugh; perhaps you remember the former endlessly saying that liberalism is a mental disease, or the latter having an overly hearty laugh from Barack the magic negro?   I listen to them to know how some people reason incorrectly,  and to challenge myself about what I think.

Let’s go back to the Fairness Doctrine: why are these two big-mouths worried about the Fairness Doctrine? Is there something to fear from hearing many sides of a political debate on your local radio station.   Is the only political dialog worth hearing, that dialog which is paid for, and approved by a business with pockets deep enough to buy time on clear channels and in big markets?  Or is the fear that adding more time for “other ideas” will drive up the overall costs of radio time, and thereby raise costs for those buyers? Are views supported by commercial advertising inherently better for us citizens of the USA, because such ideas are wiser, better balanced than the ideas of citizens who don’t own a business.  Are commercial advertisers just more likely to come to better conclusions than ordinary citizens? On the other hand, is there such a thing as silly worship of business?  Back  when Enron controlled the assets of its employees pension funds, what kind of “advertising buys” did Enron make in the radio and TV marketplace? Did the advertising buys of Countrywide Mortgage have more inherent worth than your neighbors’ blogs?

Savage and Limbaugh were selling Senator McCain before the election, and warning that  Senator Obama was a bad choice. Luckily, these two don’t control the internet.  Anyone who can connect to the internet, can place their political ideas in front of the public – even me.  Is the internet inherently more “fair” than commercial radio, because access to publishing costs little or nothing.

So many questions, so little time. It’s time to research the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time Rule.

Jay


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