Tag Archives: music

Are You Being Brandwashed?

NASA

Unlike the Flat Earthers, who believe the number one threat to society is NASA lying to people, I believe the real threat is giant corporations who have created our fake news culture as a diversion while they spy on us. Latest case in point is the book THE AISLES HAVE EYES. Author Joseph Turow is a professor at the Annenberg School of Communication, and his subtitle is “How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power.” Your “power” is becoming illusory. Listen to the audiobook HIT MAKERS by Derek Thompson, subtitled “The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction,” (due out Feb. 7.) We are being distracted while our personal data is being mined and sold to third parties under our noses, often within seconds of downloading a “free” app or turning on a “smart” phone. Who is smart? Not the consumer, for sure. Those posting fake news to distract us (or viral cat videos: same thing) are being used by politicians and corporations to manipulate our thoughts and actions. (And how we vote.) If there’s a conspiracy out there, it’s from people like Alex Jones of InfoWars talking about things that don’t matter. Or ESPN. Dan Patrick has a popular radio show that is also on cable TV, with toys for good old big boys surrounding him. Nothing wrong with that, you say? Well, for anyone watching him, or Alex, or the Flat Earthers, or a thousand TV shows, when is there time to read books? Most don’t, anymore. That’s the point made in Hit Makers. Hits are those things that get the most clicks. How do they do this? By advance publicity from influencers and celebs, by market saturation, by slight of hand and tailored ads. Like football, it is a sport with the biggest prize of all: eyeballs. If they can keep your attention focused on what they want, they can control you. It’s as simple (and complex) as that. What chance does quality content have, in this environment? The same odds as a plow horse running in the Kentucky Derby. It may be a smart horse, but that doesn’t matter at all, in direct rebuttal of the saying, “If you’re smart why ain’t you rich?” Likewise, the best things can get ignored. This extends from songs to products. As Bill Gates told Steve Jobs in the film The Pirates of Silicon Valley, “You have the best stuff, but it doesn’t matter.” (At that point Gates had control of the market with an inferior product: Windows was a ripoff, one operating system stacked on top of another, and prone to bugs and viruses. MacOS is still superior, but not as ubiquitous. Jobs ripped off Xerox and improved on it, eventually going viral with iMac, iPod, and iPhone.) The moral of the story? Buyer beware. You’re basically on your own, especially if you don’t read books. Because the major media won’t tell you this. They are in on the gravy train. Watch NBC or CBS or ABC evening news programs, and what happens every time? They start off with a relatively long report on soundbites and viral videos, then move to shorter and shorter items, the drug commercials building momentum until by the end they are saying, “When we come back” within ten seconds of coming back! Then you see another series of Big Pharma ads for diseases we wouldn’t have if we weren’t on our devices or watching the NFL so much while munching on advertised junk food.

 

narcissism

Luck’s Role in Success

 

gambling

According to economist Robert Frank of Cornell’s Graduate School of Management, luck plays a significant role in what our culture defines as “success.” (ie. Money) This flies in the face of what the super rich wish to brandwash us with: the “Mr. Wonderful” morality of cut throat “winner take all” business practices. O’Leary crows about his accomplishments, but how did he make his money? A horribly bad business deal which the toy company he sold to regrets ever making, described as “one of the worst business deals ever.” So bad that no one can expect anyone ever making such a bad decision again. He walked away with a fortune, and they were nearly bankrupted by it. Yet he is proud of it, just as 50 Cent is proud of having been involved with Vitamin Water, a product which even the company admitted was “not healthy, and no one should believe is healthy.” (Really? Even with the name “Vitamin Water???”) Lies. But then Coke has lied to consumers for decades, assisting in an epidemic of diabetes and pretending to be environmentally friendly for the publicity, denying HFCS is unhealthy, and linking themselves to love and happiness in one brazen, ballsy LIE FEST (ad campaign) after another, leaving the taxpayer to pick up their hidden costs. Buyer beware, you say? Only one problem with that: the buyer doesn’t read, anymore, and the media will never inform them because they too know where their bread is buttered. Frank’s new book SUCCESS AND LUCK spells all this out, in comprehensive, logical detail, including how we have fallen into this lemming-like trance of accepting that ever fewer superstars make an ever greater percentage of profits at the expense of all. And the inequality is increasing. The super rich actually believe they should pay no taxes, most of them. They hide their wealth overseas, and the dying middle class is asked to pick up the tab for failing infrastructure. Of course this greed will end, just as the bubble of 2008 ended. But people like “Mr. Wonderful” are protecting themselves now from it by foreign investments. Frank proposes a progressive consumption tax to solve this problem, but it is unlikely any President will be allowed to even approach Congress with it. It’s DOA among those who are just fine with things as they are. ($$$) The public, too, has been conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs, via soundbites and McNews. Not to mention worshipful, unthinking culture memes (which propagate like viruses.) But I digress. Frank shows that small advantages translate into huge benefits over time. Who your father was (Trump), what went viral (Kasdashians), etc. Everything has to go right. Working hard is not enough for “world domination.” You need to be lucky too. In a study of foot races, 97% of winners were shown to have a tailwind in their record breaking attempts. What if yours is a headwind? Too bad. You lose. Even if you’re better. Persistence? Does that pay off? Not always. Many are those whose talents exceed those “at the top” but who, even after many years of struggle, have failed to move up that very steep ladder where the lucky few stand and pretend they deserve to be there…and give you advice. Should we envy them? No. The Kanyes of this world live in an alternate universe where everything is unreal and twisted by the lens of celebrity. They can’t be happy. They are pretending for the cameras, and for the fans, who expect it. Demand it. Once you realize you are not in competition with anyone, that you are who you are, you are then free. Who do I admire? The non-Diva, the incredibly talented few who are humble because they have seen the reality, the wider view of things. Because they read, listen, and observe. They are open to life, to change. That is true wealth. The rest of it is as fake as a post-1964 “silver” coin.     

Yuja’s advantage was starting at age 3. But she is real, not fake at all. This comes from music itself: the infinite vision that it empowers one with, and the total dedication to interpret a vision. This is the ending to one of the most difficult sonatas in all of piano literature, yet she tosses it off with no apparent difficulty, and no ego.

My brief interview with her here.

The Gunning of America

The Gunning of AmericaAmericans have always loved guns. This special bond was forged during the American Revolution and sanctified by the Second Amendment. It is because of this exceptional relationship that American civilians are more heavily armed than the citizens of any other nation. Or so we’re told. In The Gunning of America, historian Pamela Haag overturns this conventional wisdom. American gun culture, she argues, developed not because the gun was exceptional but precisely because it was not: guns proliferated in America because throughout most of the nation’s history they were perceived as an unexceptional commodity, no different than buttons or typewriters. Focusing on the history of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, one of the most iconic arms manufacturers in America, Haag challenges many basic assumptions of how and when America became a gun culture. Under the leadership of Oliver Winchester and his heirs, the company used aggressive, sometimes ingenious, sales and marketing techniques to create new markets for their product. Guns have never “sold themselves”; rather, through advertising and innovative distribution campaigns, the gun industry did. Through the meticulous examination of gun-industry archives, Haag challenges the myth of a primal bond between Americans and their firearms. Over the course of its 150-year history, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company sold over eight million guns. But Oliver Winchester—a shirtmaker in his previous career—had no apparent qualms about a life spent arming America. His daughter-in-law Sarah Winchester was a different story. Legend holds that Sarah was haunted by what she considered a vast blood fortune, and became convinced that the ghosts of rifle victims were haunting her. In this provocative and deeply researched work of narrative history, Haag fundamentally revises the history of arms in America and, in so doing, explodes the clichés that have created and sustained our lethal gun culture.

https://soundcloud.com/tower-review/survivor-meets-lethal-weapon

The Seven Lessons of Physics