Soul-Crushing, Mind-Numbing, Work

I can tell it is a slow Friday at work for y’all.  My blog stats are up, despite only having one post up today on account of travel!  Stats are always highest during the work day.  When I used to work an office job I swear some days I thought I found the end of the internet.  I know what goes on out there.  They key is to position your desk in such a way that your boss can’t see what you are doing.  (That is if they can’t monitor you.)  That way you can be playing video games and shit, but you’ll be so quiet that they will think you are a diligent worker.  I once worked somewhere where there was an extremely high turnover rate.  After about a year, except for management, I was the longest serving worker.  Someone remarked that the reason I lasted so long was that I was always at my desk, quiet and hard working.  I was playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out when they made that comment!

So if you read my blog while you are at work I understand.  I support it.  There are a lot of soul-crushing, mind-numbing jobs out there.  American is full of jobs that bring zero meaning to one’s life.  As well as working office jobs I was also a janitor for awhile, among other things.  Today on the van ride home I was thinking that at least when you are a janitor and you clean something, or you mow a field, it looks nice.  Even if it doesn’t last you can be proud of it and it increases of the quality of other people’s lives.  Kids can play on a nice newly cut field.  I’m not saying you didn’t do a lot of stupid shit as a janitor, you did, but at least you had tasks where you could take pride in your work some days.  Some of those office jobs were beyond meaningless.  You almost felt that the work you did was so meaningless that you somehow were going back in time creating more work, instead of getting anything accomplished.

Why is it that we value some people’s jobs more than others?  Often that value has no real connection with a job’s value to society.  (Hey it’s Friday afternoon.  I thought it would be a good time to raise these questions.  If you try really hard you can black out enough over the weekend that this blog will be a long distant memory!)  All I’m really trying to get at it that we should not be so quick to judge those who have jobs that we find undesirable.  Society would be pretty bad if the blue collar workers all got up in quit, but the world worked just fine before the internet.

And don’t think I am casting judgment from down on high because for the moment I am making my living as a musician and don’t have to work a day job except for on occasion.  Even if you aren’t willing to hear the argument that being a musician is not as glamorous as you think, there is no guarantee that this lifestyle is going to last.  Second, I’m pretty sure that if the deal goes down, and World War III starts, that playing a guitar will most likely qualify you for cannon fodder!

But its ok.  I am used to non-sympathetic treatment.  I remember one time my brother and I were riding tractors mowing grass on a super hot summer day.  A local denizen, who knew we were both musicians, was jogging by and asked my brother how our day was.  Covered in grass, bitten by flies, and sunburned, my brother replied that our day was pretty shitty.  To which the citizen replied, “Why don’t you sing me a fucking song about it!”

Net Neutrality Wins

Net Neutrality Wins

Net neutrality wins today in a historic vote by the FCC.  This is a great day for the internet and for democracy.   Read the above Huffington Post article for details.   This vote favors individuals.  It is also a large blow to cable companies. 

Andrew Sullivan On Blogging

The Years of Writing Dangerously

Andrew Sullivan, soon to be retired blogger and creator of The Dish, posted some of his earliest words about blogging itself.  I think he is someone that understands the best of what blogging can be.  I think that it is a valid form of writing, but it is a new form of writing.  It operates with a different set of rules than other forms of writing.  It is more about capturing the honesty of the moment, and through a cataloging of moments, capturing the larger arc of the world around us.  Here are some words on blogging from Sullivan’s piece:

[T]he speed with which an idea in your head reaches thousands of other people’s eyes has another deflating effect, this time in reverse: It ensures that you will occasionally blurt out things that are offensive, dumb, brilliant, or in tune with the way people actually think and speak in private. That means bloggers put themselves out there in far more ballsy fashion than many officially sanctioned pundits do, and they make fools of themselves more often, too. The only way to correct your mistakes or foolishness is in public, on the blog, in front of your readers. You are far more naked than when clothed in the protective garments of a media entity.

But, somehow, you’re liberated as well as nude: blogging as a media form of streaking. I notice this when I write my blog, as opposed to when I write for the old media. I take less time, worry less about polish, and care less about the consequences on my blog. That makes for more honest writing. It may not be “serious” in the way, say, a 12-page review of 14th-century Bulgarian poetry in the New Republic is serious. But it’s serious inasmuch as it conveys real ideas and feelings in as unvarnished and honest a form as possible. I think journalism could do with more of that kind of seriousness. It’s democratic in the best sense of the word. It helps expose the wizard behind the media curtain.

Ideas of Value and Worshipping at Decaying Alters

I once read part of Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World.  Although I don’t agree with Ferguson on most current political issues and he can often be pompous and arrogant, there were parts of this book that were really interesting and one part in particular that stuck with me.  This was the idea that technology cannot only spread progress and enlightenment, but can also spread bad ideas just as quickly.  In the book he talks about the implementation of rail.  Rail allowed certain regions to progress economically and culturally.  Goods and technology that had not reached parts of the world were now more easily available and allowed civilization to advance.  Different people that had never been in much contact were able to come together, become more familiar with each other, and share worthwhile ideas.  However, things like racism and anti-semitism, that might not have been prevalent in certain areas, were able to spread as well.

We can see in modern times how the internet allows both good and bad ideas to spread more easily.  Not only can the internet be a place where democratic ideas can be shared, but fundamentalists and fascist corporatists are able to spread their message through the internet as well.

Earlier tonight as I drove home from a gig I was listening to Chuck D’s album The Black in Man.  On one of the songs Chuck D raps that,”There’s a difference between censorship and senseless shit.”  I’m against censorship of any kind, the banning of ideas.  However, this does not mean that ideas have equal value and should be regarded as such.  There is not enough critical thinking and bullshit detecting going on in our society.   Whether it is the right’s fear of intellectualism, because facts are often not in their favor, or the left’s fear of things being deemed intolerant, too many of the conversations we have end up being about how people respond to something and not the actual value an idea itself.

Making scientific decisions is better when science is the metric for a decision and not economics.  A culture that treats women equally is flat out better than a culture that tries to keep them subservient.  These, and others, are simple conclusions that can be reached easily when reason and critical thinking are involved.  Now more than ever, in this information age, we need people that can critique our culture in a meaningful way and that aren’t afraid to stand up and be counted.  At the same time we need these same kind of people to be unafraid to change their opinions when facts add up to something different than what we previously thought.   Utilitarianism, what benefits the most amount of people, should be a force in that debate, even if that idea in and of itself isn’t enough.  (No matter how many benefit from something, it should not be at the expense of suffering of the minority.  There needs to be clear ethical lines as safeguards to that utilitarianism.)  What gives the people the best chance to be free of fear, want, and oppression?  How do we as a society prosper and live lives of meaning without creating suffering in others?  What brings long term meaning to life?  What kinds of short term satiation of our desires makes life less meaningful in the long run?

We have all of the information of the world at our fingertips, but kids are taught less and less how to actually parse that information and decide what has value.  People on the right and the left sense their is something sick in our culture, even if they can’t agree on what it is.

In my opinion, although there is still a lot of ill in our culture due to petty tribal and religious differences, our main problem is that we have allowed money to become the thing we worship above all else.  Whatever sells wins, even if in the long run it will lead to our destruction.

As I read the news today I couldn’t help but notice all of the false gods that we worship on a daily basis.  We too often worship the god of the tribe, while allowing money and power to have their way while we are distracted at decaying alters.

I already know, before even reading over what I wrote, that it is somewhat rambling, that it possibly touches on too many different ideas.  But I can’t help but feel these are the kinds of things we should be thinking about, that these are the kinds of questions that we should be asking.

Yo Jesus, Where’s My PS4 At?

God helps you if you turn your face to him.  If you don’t you are lost.  Pray to God.  Amen
– Commenter 1

Yo Jesus where’s my PS4 at?
     – Commenter 2

While the above exchange on a message board did give me a small chuckle, I really get mad at myself whenever I find myself scrolling through comments on any website.  If you want to lose faith in the American public, just read website comments.  Occasionally there are intelligent discussions going on, but that seems to be the exception to the rule.

That’s why I don’t allow comments here without my approval.  I’m not trying to censor he thoughts of anyone that disagrees with me on anything.  In fact, if you write me something that is an intelligent rebuttal to something I’ve written, I will gladly approve it and post it.  I just don’t want this site to be another one where it is open season to insult people anonymously.

Earlier today I was checking Billboard’s website because I was curious what number the new AC/DC album came in at.  I know that Billboard doesn’t really matter, but I was curious to see how a rock band that has had success, that has just put out a great album, would do in this marketplace.  Somehow I clicked on a couple articles, and then I started reading comments, and then a half hour later I had to ask myself what the fuck I was doing.

I just had a really interesting conversation with my girlfriend about how technology is changing society.  She used to work in a restaurant and she noticed families of all kinds not only not speaking to each other, but taking longer to eat as they took time to take pictures of the food they were eating so that they could post it online.  She was also telling me about certain people she knows that hunt that text each other from their tree stands.  That kind of defeats the whole purpose of getting out in nature.

I have found myself sitting down to read, only to be scrolling through my phone without any conscious decision to do so.  I am as guilty as anyone of letting the hours slip away into meaningless behavior.  Look, I love technology.  I can take my entire record collection on the road with me when I go on tour.  However, there is definitely a dark side to it.  I know this subject has been touched upon before, by people that have spent ridiculously more time with it than I have.  I don’t feel bad mentioning it though because I think it’s just something that one has to constantly remind oneself of.  Even if it is just an hour before bed for reading, I think it is important to disconnect at certain times.  Take it off the grid.

Ritual Suicide and Internet Trolls

Last day of the run. (You can’t call something three days a tour.)  Headed to Roscoe,  Texas.  Then tomorrow it is the push home.  Was just killing time staring at the spacebook.   I still don’t understand these losers that troll everyone.  It is one thing to put up a comment now and again to stir the pot, but these people fuck with others of all beliefs as a full time job.  Don’t they know there are some instances where suicide IS the nobler option?   

Comitting Seppuku would be a much more dignified outcome than 24 hour a day trolling.  Here I have even provided a link for learning about it:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seppuku

Don’t say I never gave nothing back!