Friday, February 12, 2010

cantankerous crow

Crow here. On cold winter nights when it's more comfortable on a perch here in susan's living room than outside flying, I enjoy alternate history, ie, whether or not there were higher human cultures before yours that, like Atlantis, sank beneath waves both literal and figurative over the course of the millennia of human existence. I also like reading about how humanity might possibly develop and where you might go as you move inexorably into the future. Often the most difficult place to be is in the present.

Avoidable human misery is generally not caused so much by stupidity than by ignorance, especially ignorance about yourselves. You inhabit a global civilization in which the most important elements - transportation, communications, medicine, protecting the environment - depend on science and technology. Yet things have been arranged in such a way that very few people understand those subjects. Media programming is generally focused on the lowest common denominator with the result being that study and learning can be seen not only as unnecessary but undesirable. It's not only sad but dangerous to have an uneducated majority in a modern democratic society.

There have always been power elites whose main interest is in manipulating the populace and if you're desperate enough you become all too willing to abandon reason and skepticism. People in general are very susceptible to believing things that are in their own self interest so when powerful corporate structures determine that it's more profitable to deny something they hire people willing to deride the science or history:

'How can you say there's global warming now that the east coast is covered in 6' of snow?' If the population in general had been exposed to even a modest level of scientific education they'd know that weather systems are both complex and chaotic. A small change in global ocean temperature can cause unexpected and likely unwelcome results.

'The government plan for single payer insurance is a plot to take away your health care.' Little or no mention is made of the fact that every modern industrialized society has had great success with government mandated health insurance for the past 60 years.

'Regulation of large banks will mean you can't get a loan to send your child to college or to buy a home or anything else.' The history of general economic growth and what allowed for the largest expansion of a comfortable middle class came from the regulations established over banks after the Depression.

'We must let bygones be bygones and not bring criminal charges against the last administration.' The trials at Nuremberg were a lesson to the world that there were serious consequences for those prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany. All they did was to invade sovereign nations who were not a threat to them.

'We have to continue war on an idea (terrorism) in order to protect you far into an undetermined future.' Now anybody who isn't aware of my old friend President Eisenhower's final address to the United States warning of the dangers inherent in the military-industrial complex has probably spent too much time watching television rather than reading.

Yes, I enjoy immersing myself in alternate possibilities but I still understand the difference between fantasy and reality. These are just a few brief examples of how ignorance is disseminated to the population at large and I wish more people would spend their time reading and talking to one another like you do on the nets.

It's too nice a day to stay inside so I think I'll shake the dust off my wings and go to see if my friends the swallows are back from Capistrano. By the way, have you ever seen squadrons of geese returning north? I'm going to have to ask them if they fly commercial on their way back.


marja-leena said...

Such a smart well-educated crow! Sure can teach a bunch of humans a few things, eh.

Spadoman said...

Well, Crow, you're speaking to the choir, but then again, the choir needs to have a lot of voices, especially with the stakes so high.
But you know it's money, don't you? The one percent that has all the money dictates what us lower echelon get to see and hear about all those buzzword hotwire topics you mention. Trouble is, many don't have computers to get the real scoop, and some are so busy living life, they have no time left to live life and find out about such things. They hear words like socialism and go nuts when they don't know what socialism is. Carry overs from the "good" war I guess.
I sometimes think about the past. Not my past, but long ago, when the prairie scooners were headed west. They ate the same food every day for months. They had none of what we call convenience, grocery stores, post offices, banks. Hell, they didn't even have money or TV or radio or telephones.
I want to go back and try living that way. Start over, but know what I know today about technology and science. Thjat might change the equation a bit.
Very thought provoking today. I had a lot to say about it. Thanks for the great conversation.

Peace and good flight.

Randal Graves said...

I'm sure we'll get it right one of these millennia. Sure, it'll be after the sun goes red giant, but hey, better late than cosmic dusted, oui?

Crow said...

marja-leena - Ever hopeful, dear lady.

spadoman - I know you're right about all you said. Most people are very cool but somehow it always seems to be sociopaths who take the road to power and completely miss the wisdom. There have always been wackos in high places but it used to be easier for the general populace to avoid them. Now they'll charge you $35 for a $1 overdraft and convince you it's your fault. Sometimes it's depressing but susan made me my favorite lunch and I feel better now.

randal - I just didn't want you to think it was nothing but babies and balloons over here.

linda said...

i think we all should start listening to crows, maybe we will learn a thing or two, especially if we put you all on tv 24 hours a day, youtube, hsn, mtv, and whatever else people are doing other than reading ... maybe a few at the olympics? well, no, that's probably doubtful since one small group is running that show and won't take to crows in their nest...

well, crap, now i am in a mood, thanks a lot crow.... think i will go listen to some good old prairie... i don't advise flying other than with your own wing power, btw, it will only serve to make you grouchy ;)

xoxoxox to your lovely susan

Elaine- said...

wow, i heard crows can learn to talk, but i had no idea! great post, you are right that it is easier to walk softly and hope for the best, ignoring it all until you can't anymore. I know I am guilty of this, I used to devour conspiracy theories, then it all became too much for little ol' me, but on the other hand, i don't have a tv right now, so at least I'm not watching reruns of 'friends' :) ps thank you for the lovely comment on my photo blog! you don't have the name url option for commenters, you need dat for people that don't blog on blogger :)

Pagan Sphinx said...

Crow: you are really speaking of Americans who are the guiltiest of this, you write about:

"Media programming is generally focused on the lowest common denominator with the result being that study and learning can be seen not only as unnecessary but undesirable. It's not only sad but dangerous to have an uneducated majority in a modern democratic society."

We in the U.S. and Canada could educate a whole generation of youngsters if we took a character like Woodsy Own (remember him?) or Smokey the Bear and taught about global warming. I'm not sure what type of animal/character would work on today's youth but it would create a campaign of awareness. The lack of these types of icons to talk to our kids shows to me just how far a-stray we've gone from exposing our kids to what's going on environmentally. I know that type of campaign wouldn't solve everything but the lack of one says something to me about how THEY want to keep us in the dark. Pollution and forest fires was one thing, but get kids straight on what's causing global warming and THEY may actually have to account for something!

Mary Ellen said...

Great post, Crow. I keep wondering what life will be like for my grand-kids...and to be honest, it's apretty scary thought. What kind of world are we leaving for our children?

♥ Braja said...

I was waiting for the crow to speak....

Crow said...

linda - Although I personally prefer to retain my low profile among your kind I do know a few wise old birds who'd be delighted to provide a different point of view on the major media outlets. As far as the Olympics are concerned I've already suggested two permanent venues - Antarctica for the winter games and the Sahara for the summer ones. I think people should stop encouraging them.

I always wing my own way but I do wonder about those silly geese.

elaine - How nice of you to come by. susan's been busy drawing so I thought I'd borrow her space to opine about the general ruination perpetrated by the more vile and greedy members of your species. Don't worry, one day it will be obvious to all that they should be locked in their mansions while the rest of you get on with fixing everything.

btw: susan thinks she's fixed the url thingamajig for future visits.

pagan sphinx - Yep, I did but being a gentleman I didn't want to name names. Characters like the ones you mentioned would go a long way toward educating human children about the value of the natural world but so would having them spend more time outdoors. There's nothing I like to see more than children playing and daydreaming under summer skies. Instead, far too many of them only see nature through car windows or second hand on tv screens (if they aren't busy playing games that involve blowing things up). Meanwhile, parents have been brainwashed by fears propagated by the media that anything and everything beyond the garden gate is dangerous.

nunly - That's a very reasonable concern and is why we have to talk openly among ourselves. Knowledge is the only answer.

Crow said...

braja - Travel is broadening as you well know. I've been busy :-)

La Belette Rouge said...

If you are coming to Capistrano, would you please stop by my place? I am leaving a plate of fruit cake and a carafe of Remi on my porch, just in case.

Seraphine said...

no geese, no ducks
there is only fog and
goldman sachs helping greece
hide debt until the rescue
we bleed into the ocean
while waiting, waiting
for the ducks to return

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Susan –A timely reminder from Crow many of the more obvious societal attitudinal changes that were hopeful agenda’s not long ago are yet to be realized. I think Crow’s idea of attributing misery to ignorance might bear a resemblance to Plato’s ideas who thought that people once schooled in knowledge of what is right will act in that like manner. But we know from bitter experience there are always going to be those who will still choose to act immorally despite being aware of al he facts.

However on a more postive note I think improved global communications does allows many good organizations to influence outcomes and diminish the time frames for corruption and atrocities to flourish.

Overal despits the recent dips i thnk we can see evidence in empirical analysis of a trend to indicate less poverty per capita, fewer wars, better health outcomes, education and so on compared to any other period during our known past civilization. Philosopher Peter Singer thinks our cooperative evolution that is ingrained in our evolved nature is leading to less violence as societies become globally more dependant and aware of each another.

Although democracies can, at times, almost equal their lowest common denominators they can often adapt a lot quicker than we can imagine- a combination of the best of the old and new, even to take a more reverent view of the earth. Let's hope for some more positive news soon

Best wishes

jams o donnell said...

A most interesting post Crow. Ironically for us in NW Europe global warming could freeze us if teh Gulfstream were to pack in!

Crow said...

belette - It was so early when I stopped by you were all still sleeping. I hope you and Lily felt the kisses left on your cheeks after I tip-clawed out.

sera - There will be a reckoning when the European Court gets hold of this one. Just because the US courts refuse to take action doesn't mean international ones won't. The ducks will return, the cows will come home and the chickens return to the roost.

lindsay - Yes, it's unfortunate but some people will always act out of self rather than community inspired interest. It occurred to me earlier that most humans live in castles made of various varieties of comparative wealth. While banding together to share resources makes much more sense it's frowned upon by those who prefer to keep everybody defending their separate poor territories.

I think you're right in your view that communication is making a difference. Secrets are much more difficult to maintain than once was true and that's a very good thing. Wars are becoming far less frequent with the qualification of the US and a few extremely corrupt governments in Africa. Nowadays it's economic warfare and I think that will have a natural conclusion too. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

jams - I know that because the north polar ice cap is already floating its melt causes no rise in sea level or change in salinity but if just the Greenland one goes we're all in serious trouble.

Gary said...

Yes and where are the illustrious Fourth Estate - the journalists who in a free society look out for the interests of truth? It's so easy to follow the money from climate change doubters to oil companies for example - even I've done (online in 15 minutes). But it's presented as a fair argument...

I also wonder why many Americans seem the least informed, with freedom of information, association and speech being such sacred trusts. I know there are strong government and corporate agendas at play, but Jeez!

Maybe we need a Coffee Party movement to counter the other? Or even a Double Espresso Party...

lindsaylobe said...

Ref -Nowadays it's economic warfare and I think that will have a natural conclusion too.
True – But the chickens are already coming home to roost. I like to think of it as more of exporting future misery as is evident by a US bank in swap finance facilities to Greece in the way the EU rules were circumvented so that a temporary over spending and ' making hay ' while the sun shines was perpetuated before anyone noticed something was terribly wrong. Now many countries in Europe are suffering from the loans and dirty tricks of few smarties who have left the places in tatters , combined with the extraordinary naivety of many in the populace who believed in the preposterous notion you just keep on spending massively more than you save. The so called ring of fire not only includes Greece, Portugal and Spain but also the US if it doesn’t settle down soon to living within its means. Even so I am still confident we can learn from the GFC and begin to live more sensibly.
Best wishes

Crow said...

gary - You know as well as I the Fourth Estate pays attention to those who pay their salaries. I'm sure there are reporters who would prefer printing the truth rather than agreeing to the totally invented level playing field flimflam but without brave editors and independent publishers that will not happen. With the exception of a few very well known editorialists there's little that can get past the cant. A free press is essential and nowadays that's mostly only available on the internet for Americans.

lindsay - That would be Goldman Sachs you're talking about and I think the EU Courts are going to take this very seriously and hopefully bring to bear the kind of punishment the government of this country has refused to consider. Matt Taibbi wrote an excellent article in Rolling Stone last summer about that company and its history of illegal dealings.

Unfortunately for most Americans, when this country finally has to bite the bullet and live within its means that won't include standing down the huge war machine but will include even less funding for schools, public works and social programs. I think things will eventually get better in the world at large but they will worsen a lot here before any improvement come along. I don't see US citizens demanding change - hope didn't make the cut.

Sean Jeating said...

As for your final paragraph: I am looking forward to welcome the cranes returning from their holiday in southern spheres.

susan said...

sean - I'm very glad you enjoyed it and happy you came by to visit. Do you know if the storks still roost in Amsterdam?

Sean Jeating said...

Thanks for the kind welcome, Susan.
I tried to check your 'storky' question. :)

After almost having been extincted, meanwhile there are 400 stork couples living in the Netherlands, again.
I did not find detailed information about their population in Amsterdam, though.
Will ask a Dutch friend, and in case he knows I shall let you know.

susan said...

sean - I'm glad to know about the 400. So many cities in this country have been overrun by high rises I like to imagine old Europe looks the same. I'm sure it's less so than I'd prefer but good to know they've survived. Thanks for the news :-)