Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Turn Off the Faucet of Information

Imagine yourself standing under the opening of a huge faucet.  Water is cascading over your head, down your face, drenching your clothes.  Around you the water is beginning to rise slowly until it is dangerously high to the point where it is threatening your ability to breathe.  You are about to drown...unless you move away from the cascading water.

This is what we face in this information age, where countless images, messages,voices, and sounds are thrust towards us.  Television commercials, radio commercials, internet advertisements, billboards, tweets, text messages, and other video, audio and visual communications designed to influence and "inform" us.  At times we get to the point where we are becoming overwhelmed with information.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  The number of people or organizations we follow often results in a cascade of "posts", "tweets", and other information tidbits that constantly has us clicking buttons to view what is sent to us.

At times the information flow can be semi controlling.  We find ourselves responding mentally and emotionally to all the messages.  The messages control what we think and when we think it.  Sometimes we recognize this and we take action.  We choose to not watch television.  We choose to not listen to specific radio or television shows.  We "unfriend" people on Facebook, or stop following people on Twitter.  We choose to click away from being connected to these nuisance audio and visual mediums.  It's all about making choices and exercising the power to not do something.  Exercising the power to take control of our "information lives".

It is that power that we sometimes don't recognize.  The power to ignore what others attempt to thrust at you as if you do not have a choice.  Well, you do have a choice and it's time you started exercising it.  Think for yourself.  Decide for yourself what information you want to know and what information you believe.  Ask yourself what is the goal of the information that is being thrust at you?  Is someone attempting to get you to believe something, buy something, join a group?  Is someone attempting to get you to think about an issue and make your own decision?  Is someone attempting to share, make you laugh, get you to care about an issue?  Or is someone just passionate about an issue that they have to post or send information out on a certain topic?

So as the open information faucet cascades over your head do the following.  Open above your head your "umbrella of decision" and deflect the information water flow to the sides so it doesn't drench and drown you.  Then climb above the faucet and turn the knob to decrease the information flow to the level you are comfortable with.  If you desire a trickle of water, turn the knob to only allow a trickle of water flowing out of the information faucet.  Take control of your faucet.  Take control of your life.  Don't read your Facebook posts for a few days.  Unfollow people on Twitter whose information isn't helping you to become the best person YOU can be.

Replace the overflow of information with your own thoughts and concerns.  Then take action on those things YOU care about.

<information>  <communication>

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Thoughts and Looking Back

On this Memorial Day weekend I repost my original blog post from August 2013.  But first, my Memorial Day thoughts are for all those unknown and forgotten men and women who endured slavery in these United States of America.  To be treated as property, 3/5 of a human being by the government was not a beginning anyone should have.  For those African Americans who voluntarily served in the Armed forces of the United States despite the racism you encountered in your home life a special honor goes to you.  To be wanted to give your life for your country, but then told when you come home you have limited freedom due to the color of your skin could not have been a good experience.  For the Native American civilization that was already here I pause to pay respect to you and how you took care of the land that existed in it's pristine state before technology and Europeans took over and ended your reign.  As time continues to march on......

Original Blog From August 13, 2013

"So, this Black Man aspiring to be a published writer has started a "blog".  In this I will share insights of a Black man who has to date successfully traversed (through God's blessings) through childhood days in St. Louis, Missouri; Compton, California; Gary, Indiana; a college detour through Evansville, Indiana; to a Federal career in Indianapolis, Indiana and now retirement in my mid 50s.

It is a different era from when I was "growing up".  One view I have always had is that Black men have obtained an image that is mostly negative and that our overall successes  are unknown, overlooked, or ignored.  I sometimes wonder if you listed the various human racial minorities and placed them in numerical order, would an audience of judges rank Black males in the top or lower quadrant in term of positive viewpoints?

Well, I recall one evening in the past 10 years when I parked my car outside a high scale department store preparing to go in.  A Caucasian woman saw me get out of my car headed in her direction as she was exiting the store.  She began to run for her car as if I was going to attack her.  I could only laugh and shake my head at her perception that I was the evil Black man getting ready to rob her and kidnap her.  Fast forward to 2012 at a scene in Florida where an adult profiles a black teenager wearing a hoodie as being a danger to the neighborhood.  Unfortunately that event lead to the teen's death.  Let us Black men continue to do positive things to change the negativity."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tom Brady and the Circumstantial Evidence Ruling

I'm glad the owner of the New England Patriots backed off from seeking further review of the decision to suspend quarterback Tom Brady based on the "deflate gate" fiasco.  I did not follow the ruling closely and I hope none of you did either.  You have more important things to do than follow the mistakes of a millionaire sports figure.

I thought I heard that the owner or maybe even Brady felt the circumstantial nature of the evidence didn't support the penalty.  My first thought to those comments was that it could be worse.  There are many people in the American justice system who are sentenced to jail for life based on circumstantial evidence.  Some are finally released after 20 years or more when DNA evidence shows that they did not commit a crime.  Others who have been given the death penalty based on circumstantial evidence are no longer with us as "justice" has prevailed.  So it would have been outrageous if the owner of the Patriots or Tom Brady himself had come out and whined about circumstantial evidence being unjustly used.

Tom, welcome to the world of those who can't afford expensive lawyers.  How does it feel to be punished based on circumstantial evidence?  Maybe the players union appeal will reverse the decision.  But, until then you're like the rest of us!

Monday, May 18, 2015

What News Is Necessary to Know?

The news.  As you watch, read, or listen to stories pushed out at you as being "news" ask yourself the following question.  Why is this story "news"?  Should true news be something that is critical for all of us to know?  Is true news life saving information that we need to know such as approaching bad weather conditions, murderers on the loose, a pending levee break that may flood your neighborhood?

News should be something that impacts you directly.  News should be something that keeps you safe from harm.  News can also be something that you can react to and help improve a situation that exists.   Most news is forced upon us whether we want to hear it or not.  Yes we can now turn a knob, or click a switch to stop seeing or hearing information that we do not want thrust upon us.  We definitely are well trained at throwing away information given to us that we do not want to read, see, or hear.

Take "The News Test".  When you listen to the local or national news decide if each story was "news" to you or if it fits into some other category.  Human interest, gossip, etc.  Decide what value the story added to your day or your ability to function the next day.

Is most news simply "information share" about the various events going on in the world around us?  Who decides what news events are worthy of the masses to see or hear about?  Do you like being told what is important and what you need to know about?

I think weather reports about oncoming dangerous storms is news.  But it sometimes is over-dramatized by those reporting the news.  Just give us the facts and leave out the "on the spot" reports showing us quarter sized hail or the audio of someone explaining how the storm just went through their area.  If you watch the local news beyond an hour, you will notice that the same stories are repeated each hour.  That means that of all the events ongoing in the world, someone has decided that those 5-10 stories only are worthy of being news.

News typically means information sharing of violent actions of people.  Lately "news" has become personal information about the faults and mistakes of people.

I can typically predict what news stories will appear on our television news.  News about violent actions taken by someone, traffic reports, weather, and sports.  The traditional four items.  After that are featured whatever misbehavior's have happened in the community or the world or of course natural disasters.

Do we need to know the news?  No not really.  Other than what may impact us most news is irrelevant to our daily lives.  News should educate and inform us to possibly perform our own follow-up action.  Beyond that what does news really do for you personally?

Many things that are forced upon us are just irrelevant to our daily lives.  The information may make us aware of events going on around us, but hearing or seeing most information thrust at us does nothing for our individual lives.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Miniature Parking Spaces

The local Indianapolis Zoo must have an arrangement with several city auto body shops to send them repair business.  Those who have visited the zoo know from experience that the majority of the parking spots were drawn to fit a Volkswagon Beetle not the huge family cars that caravan to the zoo daily.  In a recent trip I witnessed many SUVs and even trucks trying to cram into parking spots not designed to accommodate them.  I even thought I heard the sound of metal scraping against metal as I saw some cars attempting to park.   I witnessed the aftereffects of one misguided parking attempt resulting in a two inch gap left between one car's passenger door and the driver's door of a neighboring car.  I could imagine that driver's surprise when they returned to their car and had to figure out how to get back into their car.

Twelve years ago my car was scraped in the zoo parking lot by someone trying to park.  It was my mistake for parking in the lot when it was obvious that the spaces were not designed for SUVs.  The zoo hasn't taken any steps to widen the parking spots since then.  Maybe when more complaints come the zoo will take some action.  It does seem like spaces designed for bigger vehicles are located in a lot further away from the zoo.  Making a big sign that large vehicles should park in that area would save car owners grief and money from having to take their car to a body shop for repair of scratches and dings.

The zoo is a place where families come.  Families come in SUVs and other large vehicles.  So you would think the zoo would design family parking spaces for family sized cars.  The zoo of course likes to attract business.  But until the parking spots get larger the zoo may encounter more negative feedback than positive.  My other recommendation is for the zoo to post a large sign at the entry driveway to the zoo, "Warning:  Park at Your Own Risk.  Damage to Cars Are not Our Responsibility".

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The New Minstrel Shows - Televised Entertainment?

There are several daytime TV shows which make me cringe.  These typically feature African American people coming on television shows (hosted by a white male) to reveal personal details about their lives.  The topics range from sexual promiscuity, questions of parenthood, and other relationship betrayals.  Then there are the "court" cases where judgment is decided by a television judge who may have been a judge in real life.

My first thought is why are people going on television to advertise the sordid details of embarrassing private parts of their lives?  Are they being paid to do so and is the money really worth it?  One thing seems apparent, those going on television are being used for their "entertainment" value.  It seems to me that the behavior of those participating in these shows feeds the stereotypes that exist in the minds of some regarding African American people.

On some of these shows, the highlight is when people start fighting.  The studio audience, like spectators in a gladiator event, urge on the violence and misbehavior.  The televise antics are truly some of our worst behavior as human beings.

This is the best that television executives can show us?  If so that shows us what they really think of viewers.  It shows what we think of ourselves.  In a world where videos of people fighting go "viral"  these minstrel like shows on television also feed the animalistic desires of people.  What are the producers of these shows trying to prove?  What is their point?  What is the benefit of making these shows and what is the benefit of watching them?  Is is fulfilling some barbaric need of people to see others behave at their worst?

I will continue to ignore these shows and not watch them.  I don't understand what value they present to the world.  If you do send me a note and educate me on what positivity such shows present.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reflections On the Ocean

I just got back from a 4 night cruise.  Being out on the ocean is a humbling experience.  Your life depends on the soundness of the ship itself.  The prospect of having to evacuate into one of the small lifeboats was not something I wanted to experience.  Outside of some turbulence the first night of the cruise, it was a safe first time experience.

While walking along the deck of the ship I could imagine what it must have been like for those sailing from Europe to settle in America years ago.  I also reflected on what it must have been like for those captured as slaves in Africa and brought unwillingly across the ocean.  There is a difference in voluntarily making the journey versus forced relocation.  Both of those groups had different emotions.  Those voluntarily making the journey must have had hope for a better life  and the promise of a new start in a new land.  Those forcefully being enslaved must have felt fear, dread, and hopelessness at being taken away from their lives.

I could imagine the wooden ships making that journey long ago. Now in stark contrast I was on a steel ship with 2,000 other people all on board for the purpose of having a good time.  An endless food buffet, entertainment in an auditorium every night, singers, dancers, comedians.  Lounging in the jacuzzi or swimming pool.  Loud music blaring at the main pool on the top deck of the ship.  An ocean that years ago served as a liquid highway to a "new" world, is now an entertainment water parking lot where cruise ships pass each other daily taking people out for fun.

While looking over the expanse of the ocean I could only wonder what daily life must be like for those who spend most of their time on a ship.  When not encountering stormy weather I can imagine it must be peaceful.  But when the storms come, there is no where to hide.