Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Is the World As It's Meant To Be?

Is the world as it's "meant" to be or is it chaos?

New-Age philosophy says that events happen as they are “supposed” to, and that everything happens for a “reason”, and that adversity in life has the purpose of teaching us something. You can read any of the hundreds of new-age books out there and they will tell you pretty much the same thing: “You must learn to love yourself and when you do the universe will bring good things to you.”... “There is a reason you were put on earth at this place and time.”... “Visualize good things and set your intentions and it shall come to be.”... “There are no coincidences, just synchronicity.” blah-de-blah-de-blah.

I don’t completely buy this stuff nor do I completely reject it. What it means to me is to be open minded and to be able to pay attention to what we may not normally see. Synchronicity is not a magic trick from the universe but it describes events that surprise us or jog the brain. Inspiration can come from synchronicity if we are open-minded enough to see it. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in the concerns of daily life that we don’t see those interesting and surprising things that pass before our eyes. Creative people take those little surprises and build on them to make art. Much creativity comes from putting unlikely things together in a new and unexpected way. But I don’t think the universe “intentionally” sends these things to us. They just happen. And the open-minded people can take the stuff thrown at them in life and make new connections. One feels much less powerless in a world of chaos when one can create something out of the stuff and share it.

When a dear friend of mine died, my new-age friend said he’s fulfilled his purpose in life and has moved to a higher level. This was “meant” to be in the cosmic scheme of things. Well, baloney. It was chaos, really. A very small electrical anomaly in his heart caused a catastrophe. Perhaps a micro-volt of difference would have saved him and he would still be here. It is hard for people to accept the idea that a tiny event could cause big tragedies. And yet we still must have some belief that something coherent holds everything together.

The world flows around us and we can’t stop it. It’s like being in a flowing river. Each moment is gone in the blink of an eye. All kinds of shit both good and bad flow down and bump into us. In some ways I must “go with the flow” and realize it’s impossible to stop some of the shit from flowing by. But I must also have the strength and the motivation to swim up and grab the good shit when it drifts by. Some days the river is calm and clear. Other days there’s shit everywhere. There is a balance in life between allowing the river to flow and having the strength to go against the flow in order to grab the good stuff. The river can’t be stopped but it’s extremely wide and there are many paths that can be taken along it.

Each moment is gone as soon as it passes, yet each moment exists just like every place along a river exists, even though it is behind or in front of you. Each view along the way is unique. I can look back and see it with a different perspective. I see the directions that I did not take and wonder why. But it is neither reasonable nor constructive to dwell on the paths not taken. I should look ahead and pay attention to the present place and where I’m going. If I look back for too long I will slam into a bunch of rocks.

And what of the future ? If all moments exist, is the future already there ? Tomorrow at this time will certainly arrive and things in the world will be in a certain configuration at that moment. The moment exists but is it fixed ? Is it fated to be the way it was “meant” to be ? If all molecules behave in a predictable manner according to physics, and everyone’s brain is made of those molecules, then we have no choice about what will be happening at that moment or any other moment. But if molecules behave according to chance and chaos, we don’t really have any choice either, do we ?

Our consciousness gives us the illusion that we have free will. I have the choice between continuing to write this stream of whatever, or I could stop and make some toast. But do I have a choice ? My stomach is dictating that I should eat something. But my brain can decide whether to eat now or later. The moment of my eating toast exists but hasn’t arrived yet.

This is, of course, a theological question. If all moments are already laid out in time, then praying to a deity is quite useless. But then again, if all moments are already laid out in time, then who did it ?

Contemplating our own consciousness and time makes one realize that there must be something greater than ourselves because the universe is so incomprehensible.

Time for toast.

Friday, September 21, 2001

My Little Forum about Music and Emotion

I've been reading a book by Joe Jackson called A Cure For Gravity, where he talks about his love of music and the wide variety of his personal experiences with it. He often mentions the great and mysterious relationship between music and emotion. So I was inspired to make this tiny contribution to bringing "normalcy" back to our lives after the events of  9/11: a forum about music and emotion. Here are some jumping-off points that you can ponder:
  • What the heck do people really mean at the end of a concert when they say "oh, it was so emotional" ?
  • Why do Major keys generally seem "happy" and minor keys "sad"? 
  • Igor Stravinski said: "Music is powerless to express anything other than itself". Do you agree? Does music really carry emotion, or is it just notes, subject to the unique psychology of the individual listener? 
  • If a group of New Guineans who never heard western music before, heard Barber's Adagio for Strings, (which we in the West consider a sad piece), would they feel sad ?  Or, if they heard a Can-Can, would they get happy? Or would it make no sense to them at all? In other words, how universal is music?
  • I’m interested in your unique perspective. What music touches you and why?

Expand on the subject in any way you like, and use as many words as you see fit. And pass this on to any highly or moderately intelligent persons you may know. I will post all responses here  (let me know if you do not want your address to be posted).

 --- David P. Gillis     Mon, 24 Sep 2001 00:10:33 EDT:

Haydn and Stravinsky were quite right. Music doesn't really express emotion. It may evoke it, but only in the broadest sense, and not in a uniform matter. There is an abstract psychology to music based on certain fixed elements (the use of brass instuments, the use of the secondary dominant chord as transition, etc.,) but music itself is not a fixed form, as is, say painting, sculpture, or the written word. Music, Dance, and any of the performing arts are "time"arts-- there is an element of ephemera which is infinitely difficult to re-create. (This is why Toscanini always said, "That's why  they're called NOTES!"  A bad paraphrase, but you know what I mean.) To be honest, we live in a fortunate time. Think of how many musicians before us would have sold their-- well-- this is the first time in history that we can actally hear Stravinsky play Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg. I sigh for Handel & Scarlatti. 
And on a personal note (everyone asks...) My favorite composers are still Handel, Haydn and Stravinsky  (and on the odd day,  Debussy.) 

  --- Bud Allen         Mon, 24 Sep 2001 12:00:00 -0400:

Unless I misunderstood Igor Stravinski, "music", in it's broad sence most certainly expresses more than itself. Music is expression of the soul/heart/???. Listen to Black Mambazo, before they went commercial ( which is a whole different discussion) and you feel. Weather you feel joy where joy was not the implied emotion or not, to me, makes no difference; you feel.
Listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan, His saddest expressions makes my heart feel as though it is about to burst with Joy.
It's hard to talk about Stevie without mentioning Syncopation. Unless you know a particular piece my heart, you're ear will not anticipate the next note or phrase. A surprise to the ear.
Listen to Mark Knopfler and he can take you, (as a Taxi picks you up and takes you to a destination) "to" agony  and drop you off at ecstasy; leaving you wanting more!
In the fifties 100's of songs had a chord progression of (C, Am, F, G), or that same progression in different keys. So, a minor key when taken standing alone may sound sad, where it is and how it's expressed counteracts the force or effectiveness of that "almost there" sound.  Just as a suspended chord creates tension that is relieved when the suspended note is resolved to the next chord, so to is with the minor chord...........

  --- (anonymous)  Mon, 24 Sep 2001 12:48:59 -0700:

Happy Lynard Skynard makes me happy,
I truly enjoy Ernest Tubb
I do not understand polka but it makes many people happy.
I hope to elucidate when time permits.Modern rap is an abomination.
Marshall Mathers makes me think very bad things about music industry executives.
How stupid are we to let them make money from such shit.
Remember music vibrates.
A minor chord slide from a major chord in barbershop....
well it just doesn't get any better.

  --- Michael Wright         Mon, 24 Sep 2001 16:46:12 -0400:

Can there be any doubt that music is a form of communication? As a matter of fact, I feel music can communicate some ideas or emotions much better than words can. As with any form of communication, there is the communicator and the intended recipient. There are so many (almost infinite) possibilities and variations in this type of comunication: The message set to music and possibly words by the composer and his/her talent in presenting it; the
talent level and sensitivity of the musician(s); the musical knowledge, experiences, and sensitivity of the listener(s); the context or venue in which the music is presented. Add in to the equation the current emotions that the performer(s) and listener(s) bring in to the situation as well asthings such as Zeitgeit or social influences. Do we as mere mortals have any hope of ever fully understanding music?Singing in Dayton Bach Society is a great experience. Many of us who have sang there have sang Bach and other composers works with other choral groups, not knowing the full intracies of the music as often pointed out by Dick Benedum. And can we ever hope to know all of the intracies of it?
My answer is no. But it is also my philosophy that humans exist to grow and learn, both, as individuals and as a race. Therefore, it is worthwhile to perform the music even if you don't fully understand it or the composer and,
likewise, it is important to learn and grow from the experience and try to gain a more fuller understanding and awareness in all aspects. I feel that humans cannot and will not ever attain perfection in any effort, but by our
very essence we are not excused from trying to attain it because of the rewards and growth we obtain in that striving.
Okay...I'm stepping down from the soapbox now.
* People refering to a perfomance as "emotional" can only be referring to their own reactions (since we are not mind or emotion readers of others). Perhaps they were touched by the performance. The levels that individuals are touched by a performance certainly can vary from individuals.
* I'm not sure why major keys sound happy and minor ones sound sad. It does seem to be a Western Music concept. Why do the whole-tone or 5 note scales used in some Eastern Music seem so much more subtle in their sounds and ideas? I do feel that a lot of Western Music is built upon the concept of anticipation, both tonally and rythmicly (sp?). If you play a major scale going up and end on the 7th note, does it not seem unfinished? Does the
musical ride not seem incomplete? And how the heck did we end up on that ride anyway? I think tonally, we get conditioned to hearing the 8th note of the scale as a natural conclusion to the scale. If you listen to James Brown
singing "I Feel Good" and you stop playing the recording just before he sings the "...I got you!" line, does that not feel incomplete? It seems to me that rythmic anticipation is what makes most percussion sounds into music. Banging a stick on a rock like a metronome is not music in my opinion. Throw in a different instrument (percussive or otherwise) playing a differnt rythm (I really ought to look up how to spell that damn word!) or throw in a kick or riff in time with that metronomic beating, then that is music. Thin line, eh! 
* I'm not all that big on Stravinsky. I think he's sort of a hack who got lucky. Music is all about the interaction of the performer and listener, the link that is formed between them. While a person may be able to look at notes on a page and imagine the sounds, the notes have not been brought to life, so to speak. I think that his quote is a particularly assinine comment in view that he was (sort of) a composer. No wonder he wrote all of that 12 tone crap that had very little meaning to people, even after hours and days of analyzing it. I think he set out to make music have no meaning. Unfortunately (at least for us who were forced to analyze his "music" in class), even his collections of notes have some, albeit unintentional, emotional experession. My opinion, take it for what it's worth (Can I help
it that I'm a Wagner fan).
* A group of New Guineans would probably find Barber's "Adagio" at least interesting. Would they feel sad? I sort of doubt it because they have not been raised with that music tradition. However, I do believe they might find the "Can-Can" to be a happy piece because of it's upbeat rhythm (Hey...I finally spelled it right!), a style they could probably identify with. It's more than the notes or the scale that make the music.
Consider this: Why does the song "America the Beautiful" have so much meaning to so many people right now? To me its still the song they made us sing in fourth grade that we liked to make fun of! Obviously, the song has
become identified with the Congress singing it and the events of September 11. Would we have appreciated Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" more if they had sung that instead? This is actually a more interesting topic than it first appears. More and more, the media appears intent upon relagating music to a background role in association with another medium. Soundtracks are a prime example of this. I had not heard "Adagio" until I saw the movie platoon. Now, I have trouble disassociating it from that movie and context (visions of Willem Defoes death by betrayal). How about "Fanfare for the Common Man" or Pachelbel's "Canon"? How about "Ride of the Walkeries" sung by Elmer Fudd or in the movie "Apocalypse Now"? The interesting thing for me about "Adagio" is that, once I tried to listen to it apart from the movie and with an open mind, I found a different emotional context for the song.
Can we try to disassociate music form the context in which we've heard it before and discover a new emotional meaning? I belive we can. Try it sometime!

  --- David B. Stang   Tue, 25 Sept 2001 13:09:04 EDT:

Mike, I'm afraid I have to disagree about Stravinsky. First, the great majority of his music was not "12-tone crap". He dabbled with 12-tone some, but mainly as an experiment, I think. Secondly and most importantly, he is not only one of the great composers, but one of the great minds of the 20th century. His music was shocking to some at the beginning of the century, just as Picasso's and Einstein's ideas were difficult to swallow at first. But his music is without question brilliant and groundbreaking, whether you happen to enjoy listening to it or not. Also, how can you say his quote is "asinine", when you go on to say in your last sentence that one can disassociate music from a previous context and discover a new emotional meaning. Also you said above: "People refering to a perfomance as 'emotional' can only be referring to their own reactions". Seems to me that supports Stravinski.

  --- (anonymous)      Fri, 28 Sep 2001 02:27:32 -0400:

What music touches me?Marlene Dietrich singing in German and French (brings the full power of a different era)
Berthe Sylvae (French)
Edith Piaf (French)
Jacques Brel
Mozart's Requiem (only when I'm suffering deep depression -- if so, I play it over and over and over)
Bach's Toccata and Fugue  (there is just raw power in this music). 
Barry Sisters (their greatest Yiddish hits)
Cher  (her talent is underestimated)
Parliament (pure animal)
Doris Day (See the USA in Your Chevrolet) 
Annie Lennox (Lenox?)
Dolly Parton 
Most "classical" music bores me.  But occasionally I'm in the mood to enjoy it. Truly depends upon my mood. 
Some music energizes me.  Occasionally I like to hear the techno music that is played on the island of Ibiza (decadent place for European eroticism).
Some music makes me cry.  I dare not listen to it.  It is too powerful.  It unsettles me.  I lose control.  It brings back painful memories. 
One song reminds me of my father being on a respirator.  It's very upsetting. I can't stand it.  Makes me very angry when I hear a particular rock song that is about breathing.  I can just feel my father's labored breathing.  It feels like the song mocks his suffering.  Naturally at an intellectual level I know that this is ridiculous, but at an emotional  (what the hell does "emotional" mean?) level it affects me greatly.
Music can inspire soldiers in war.  Create esprit de corps in a platoon. Consider marches.  All soldiers are  synchronized.  Same with religious music.
Do animals enjoy music?  We humans are animals.  But cats and dogs don't seem to notice music very much.  Or do they?
In response to your question about individuals who are non-western who hear western music for the first time, I send the following article:

The Comfort Effect of Music, by Paul Recer

  ---   Jack and Susan Hillbrand      Fri, 28 Sep 2001 09:51:24 -0400

 As you may recall, I can not sing well nor play any instrument. Susan played flute, guitar, and piano in her youth and she has a lovely and sweet voice. Our comments are basically from a layman's point of view. However, we have read the subject of music and we have attended a multitude of voice and instrumental concerts.Per your questions, we think Stravinski was correct. It seems to us that music and emotions are subconscious interactions in the mind with the emotions delivered by the listener. Sadness, and other emotions are probably conditional responses we learn and we bring those experiences to a musical performance.   Yo Yo Ma recently commented that ''Music was a way of putting all our thoughts and emotions into order and into perspective - music, specifically classical music, can hold within it all those complex emotions of sorrow, anger, and bewilderment.'' And that for example, Denyce Graves's singing of Malotte's setting of ''The Lord's Prayer'' at the service in the National Cathedral. ''That was amazing - very, very moving.''
Then in particular about memorial services he said that, ''The music served to bring people together in a kind of fellowship and it holds them there, in the moment. I have never felt more moved to be playing; every note meant so much more, both to me and to everyone who was listening.'' . . . ''Memorial services bring everything together, and such times, music is particularly meaningful. While I was playing the Sarabande in Bach's Sixth Suite for solo cello, I was thinking about some pairs of phrases in the second half. One phrase asks the question `Why?' and the other phrase says, `Because.' Music can't answer the why, but it helps us deal with that kind of question.'

What follows are quotes and other articles we researched and like -

Some Musical Quotations
Three Theories of Emotion
An Effect-Perceiving Interface
Music and Song in Discussion
Exploring the Musical Brain
From Mind's Eye to Emotion's Seat
Humpbacks, Hummingbirds, and Human Composers
Auditory Cheesecake or Evolutionary Advantage?
How Can Music Excite, Calm, or Depress People?
Emotions in Music, by Andrew Marr
The Dark Side of Music
Music and Film, by Jean Mitry
Music in the Movies, by jas79
Music and the Bible

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

The Death of My Childhood

My brother says I had a kind of “certainty” when I was a kid. What he means, I think, is that I created things without self-conscious doubt. I used my imagination without inhibition. I made hundreds of crayon drawings, I made tapes of my own silly radio shows, I wrote adorably funny letters, I played piano, I made little pieces of pottery, I went looking for frogs, I laughed at my Dad’s Spike Jones records, I danced around the house.

The end of this “certainty” was the death of my childhood. There is a piece of the brain that tells us we are not “supposed” to do certain things, and this piece of the brain is encouraged by our parents, teachers, and peers as we grow up.  There’s a way we are “supposed” to draw, “supposed” to speak; things we are “supposed” to be interested in. Peers at school told me I was supposed to like competitive sports, and not supposed to like things that girls like.

The death of childhood is like the expulsion from Eden. It’s the realization that someone is judging you. It is the development of conscious. The things you do matter to those out in the world: parents, friends, society, God. The nightmares of childhood creep up: Why don’t other kids like me ? Why does my brother call me a sissy ? Why do my parents consider me a problem ? My answer to these and similar questions was: I must be messed up in some way. 

I still have a kind of nagging notion that "supposed" to be laboring out there somehow every day. There are those who would say I am "wasting my education" if I am not working a professional job. There is a paternal voice from within that says not working hard is a very bad thing. Perhaps this is the "nightmare" part of childhood lingering in my brain. Society says we are not "grown up" if we are not working as a responsible person should. If I respond to this pressure am I really "grown up", or am I really still a child because I am listening to this rigid voice ? What is really growing up ? It is not necessarily leaving behind childhood frivolities and going to work. It is leaving behind the paternal stern voice and listening to what comes from my true self.

The second death of childhood comes when we mature enough to realize that we should not be burdened by negative judgements. When we realize that God loves us as we are. When we realize that it is OK to be sensitive. The new-age phrase “finding the inner child” I think really means growing up and rejecting the guilt and negative self-judgement still left over from the nightmares of childhood. If there had never been these nightmares and monsters then perhaps we would still be in that state of grace where we could freely create without worrying about the expectations of parents, teachers, etc. The true adult understands his responsibilities without taking on undue or imagined responsibilities. This is a shift from acting upon fear, to acting upon love. It's finding the inner adult.

The first death of childhood occurs when we stop playing and start working. When school and books stop being fun and begin to feel like a burden. When we stop creating because we know there are better creators in the world, so why bother. When we give up those “little boy” activities and start longing for a sexual partner, and realize how lonely we are.

The second death of childhood occurs when we realize we do not need to be bound by what the paternal inner voices are saying. When we realize that fanciful dreams are OK, but also understand our true responsibilities to ourselves and others. When we feel free to love and know we deserve to be loved.
What’s really childish is to let the crap we have been conditioned with, bind us.

It's ok for me to dance around the house. It's ok for me to make crayon drawings. It's ok for me to make a web site.

Monday, June 4, 2001

The 10 Most Stupid Things About America

These are the things that really annoy me. The things that make me want to throw hard objects at the TV when I hear people talk about them.

1. The worship of the market.

Any solutions to health care or poverty that do not conform to capitalism or the free market are considered suspicious or socialist.  Conservatives have created the notion that if the Government helps people it's a bad thing, and if the Government gives money to the rich it's a good thing. For example, The Wall Street Journal has been heavily advocating the idea of shifting our social security money to Wall Street, as if they can be trusted with it. This idea totally ignores a fundamental principle of Social Security: that it is not only money for "me" in retirement, but it is also like an insurance premium, whose benefits are used by thousands of people who have no other means to get by.

2. People who dutifully go to church on Sunday, and spend the other days of the week making deals, involved in officeplace politics, and/or basically screwing people over.

In this supposedly Christian nation, the working world is largely competitive, deceptive, and cruel.
The conservative principals that guide many people seem to be perfectly backwards to me. First, they say that economics should be ruled by free market ideas, then they say that our personal lives should be ruled by morality. What about the notion that the market is made up of people who are supposed to have morals, too? If a CEO has a decision about whether to make a few more bucks by throwing people out on the street, shouldn't he consider morality in his decision ? Quite frankly I am sick to death of the great concern about what people do in their private lives while there's great ignorance about what corporate and government officials do in their public decisions that affect thousands of people.

3. The stupidity of the masses.

I really hate to sound like an intellectual snob, but the volume of stupidity floating around this country just amazes me. We talk a good deal about improving the schools, but we certainly don't put our money where our mouth is. All you have to do is look at popular culture to see how much people care about raising the level of education. So many things considered "cool" are mind-numbingly idiotic: MTV, "Survivor", Wrestling, Nascar.
A good many people on school boards around the country have no clue what evolution is all about, in an age when the biological sciences are becoming incredibly important. We have a president who agrees with the idea of  teaching "creationism". Stupid. Stupid.
A major contributor to this stupidification is local news. It's evil. It chases down what comes over the police scanner and serves up the house fires and accidents for entertainment. Its "in depth" coverage usually has something to do with how the government is wasting a few bucks, or the latest drug sweep of a local high school. If a new tax comes along, they do not provide any intelligent information about what choices the legislature may have had, how much debt we are facing, or any kind of context. The result is the populace having not much more of an opinion than:  TAXES BAD. SPORTS GOOD!

4. The love of violence.

Many (especially rural) Americans love their guns. Popular movies and video games send the message that violence can solve your problems. NRA ads and gun-related magazines send the message that guns are cool. The people who like to shove the second amendment in my face never seem to remember its first words: Well-regulated.

5. Overzealotry about relatively minor problems.

There are people in prison for marijuana possession who have longer sentences than some violent offenders. Prisons are overflowing because of the federal mandatory sentencing laws for drugs, so rapists are getting paroled. There are people who are law-abiding in every other way, who were taken from their children and locked up, for pot for personal use.  Meanwhile we have politicians who love to stand up and say how tough we must be to drug offenders. This is especially hypocritical because conservatives are the ones who so often say "the government is too big and should stay off our backs".

And there's the flag-burning issue too. This is the biggest "phony" issue around these days: it's just a way for politicans to stand up and shake their fist and claim to be more patriotic than the next guy. They still want a constitutional amendment for this even though some nut burns a flag only once every 5 years or so. Good grief. If somebody burns a flag, nail him with burning inside city limits, creating a public nuisance, disturbing the peace, destroying public property, inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, or holding up traffic.

6. The Clinton-haters.

It's time to get off this guy's back. The Clinton-haters are usually the same people as the Reagan-worshipers. Let's make a comparison, shall we ?

Clinton touched Monica's titty and lied about it.
Reagan hurled our country into a nearly catastrophic debt.
Reagan oversaw the sale of weapons to an enemy state without consulting congress.
Reagan supposedly ended the cold war, but the USSR actually collapsed because of its own internal problems, so it's a big lie.
Reagan spent more than $40 Billion on a space based weapon program that every physicist in the world (including those who worked on it) will tell you is total fantasy.
Reagan ridiculed environmentalists and had a secretary of the interior who actually believed that the earth is ours to exploit because God will be destroying it soon anyway.
Reagan rolled out the MX missile, the most terrifying and destructive thing ever built, and called it a "peacekeeper".
Reagan ignored AIDS.  Research organizations were begging for equipment to help study it, and Reagan simply lied about how his administration was helping.
The general correlary to this point of stupidity, is the idea that Republicans are more "moral" that Democrats. The pundits always say that Republicans always get the "morality" vote. I know Democratic politicians aren't angels, but I certainly can't see any reason why they would be any more adulterous or decietful than Republicans. Besides, Democrats are much more interested in the truly important public moral issues of our time, like health care, living wages, and the environment.

7. People who somehow feel their identity as a straight-white-male-Christian is somehow being threatened.

For instance, sexual harassment rules in the workplace are ridiculed and considered a threat to free speech.
John Leo recently complained that the media was unfairly politically correct when it was hesitant to vilify a criminal who happens to be gay. Well, the logic may be ok, but where were you, John Leo, during the decades during which gays were unfairly vilified by just about everyone?

8. The myth of the "liberal" media.

You know what I see when I turn on the TV? Either absolute drivel coming out of network news, or, when there is substantial conversation, I see George Will, William Bennet, Cal Thomas, or some Bush cabinet member. These guys are right-wingers. The real liberals like William Greider, Gore Vidal, and Noam Chomsky are never seen anywhere except in little magazines like The Nation.
And why are those on the left dismissively labeled as "elitist"?  That's what really confuses me. My only guess is that there's something elitist about having fact-checkers. Those on the right are usually connected with the big corporations and those on the left are usually connected with working people. You tell me who's "elitist".

9. The idea that somehow society was more moral at some time in the past.

At what time would that be?? When black people were being beaten by cops and lynched? When the KKK was practically in charge of Indiana?? When it was acceptable to have slaves?? Or to beat your wife?? When the settlers were slaughtering the Indians ??

10. PR Machines

The guys on TV commercials that tell the audience that prescription drug companies really care about our sick relatives. That SUV's are safe. That cigarette companies love to help out Kosovan refugees. That investment companies really care about our retirement years.

Stop me before I pitch another cereal bowl at the TV !!