Right from the start of amateur photography (early 20th Century), when the Brownie camera made photography possible for just about everyone, perhaps 95% of the photos made have been far less satisfactory in quality, and usefulness, than need be. Thankfully, because film cost real money, as did the subsequent required processing and printing, at first, relatively few photographs were made, and we were spared having to look at the dreadful images created by eager amateurs, that had no time, nor inclination, to want to learn how to make better photographs. Today, with the explosion of digital photography, just about everyone, ages 4 and up. are photographing anything and everything, including especially themselves in front of something or other thought to be impressive. The result is a flood of terrible photography, which its creators ignorantly and proudly post on public bulletin boards (e.g., Facebook) .One of my favorite songs became known as “The Kodak Song”; it encourages us to “gather memories while you may (in order to) remember the times of your life.” That is indeed very good advice, because. through good photography, I can rather clearly “see” three generations of my ancestors, remember my now middle aged children, as darling infants, and continue to appreciate my beautiful wife, whom was taken from me far too soon. I submit that this mindless, lazy, careless rush to photograph everything, without any knowledge how best to do that, is creating a flood of essentially worthless images, which will, in the future, serve little other than to illustrate how shallow were our lives. If you think that you may want to “remember the times of your life,” I urge you to now learn enough about making acceptable photos, so that you’ll have them when needed.
My Dad, from whom I fortunately inherited a love for photography, was an outstanding amateur photographer, eventually creating great photos, such as this 1921 image of his mother. He obviously understood the basic principles of composition, posing, focus, depth of field, optimal exposure. and the need for a tripod, to maximize sharpness. No mindless “selfie” this — and the timeless quality of the print speaks to the benefits of knowing what you’re doing when you jab a the “take” button on you camera.
You can make photos almost this good, even when using one of the PHD (Push Here Dummy) digital cameras that seemingly everyone curiously sticks up in the air at public events these days — but only if you have, at least, a basic understanding of how good photos are made.
Let’s look at another example, from out of the distant past, where two, very different photographers clicked their shutters on the same scene; it translates well to today’s digital craze.
Photo “A” was made by a photographer such as is all too common today; image “B” was carefully and skillfully made by my father. The first, typical snapshooter, looked through the viewfinder from where she stood, and jabbed at the shutter release. The result is sad, but predictable (and typical of what is slapped up on Facebook, by today’s ignorant, thoughtless “photographers.”)
My father climbed down close to his son, perhaps even directed the boy in how to pose, set an optimum exposure and depth of field, then carefully depressed the shutter release. The result (Image “B”) is a classic, timeless, informal portrait.
What a huge difference a bit of applicable knowledge and care made in that photo! It could in your photos as well — but only if you recognize that your knowledge of photographic procedures, skills, and techniques are something that you know next to nothing about, but are really willing to learn.
It is a curious thing about “photography” today — if it can really be referred to as that — most persons react emotionally. and defensively, when someone (such as I) dares to suggest that one or another of their dreadful, publicly-posted, photographs could have been improved. Often, entire clans or families will become agitated, and rise up in righteous rage to slay the attacking dragon. It does seem that once we have initiated the entirely automated process to record a digital image, we believe that we have thereby created the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, and no one can even suggest that it less than perfection. That, dear friends, will ensure the death of useful photography, which even now is gasping to stay alive.
I am not just a bringer of bad news; I offer, in my now-retired years, to comment constructively, on selected images (one at a time please), which you may care to send to me for critique. I will be pleased to help seriously interested persons in making acceptable photographic images — even with a cell phone.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Pertinent comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost from the beginning of history, as taught in U.S. schools, we have been led to believe that mankind first set foot on the American continent after an arduous hike across a newly developed, natural “land bridge.” spanning the Bering Straits. But recent discoveries, coupled with rational analysis, now seem to demolish, not just “question,” that theory. Consider the following points, which, if not by themselves deciding the origin of man in America (the continent), seem to suggest that man arrived there by various means and routes, and that such “man” was of more than one race or ethnicity.
Clearly there are many fascinating questions about who the “first Americans” really were; I, however, see clearly that there were several, distinctly different races or ethnicities involved in the original population of the American continent, including the USA itself; and it is adequately evident to me that they arrived by several different routes and methods of transportation.
What’s your opinion?
After a century of slow, laborious progress, during which Turkiye (which we arrogantly, and incorrectly refer to as “Turkey”) moved from being a typical, backward, Arab state, to the doorstep of acceptance as part of the long-desired, European Union, that unique nation is slipping back into the dark past, from which it had nearly escaped. That bodes ill for mankind and peace on earth.
If the significance of Turkiye’s regression escapes you, allow me to point out that Turkiye holds a unique position in the World, because it is, literally. both a physical and sociological “bridge” between East and West; between Europe and Asia; between Islam and the World’s other major religions. It could, as a democratic, industrialized, modernized, tolerant nation, have set the example for other regional nations to follow, for the benefit of all. Ever since the start of the Cold War, the U.S. has depended on Turkey as a loyal member of NATO, and has used its land for numerous and varied military purposes. Even today, the largest, and busiest U.S. Air Force combat airfield is in Turkey, and the U.S. maintains stockpiles of nuclear weapons in Turkiye. Relations with Turkiye have been eroding ever since we, thoughtlessly, sided with Greece in their argument with Turkiye over the divided island of Cyprus, and, although for a while it appeared that things were getting better, the new President of Turkiye (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) seems intent on turning his nation into an archaic Islamic Caliphate, which will not only result in our loss of use of military facilities there, but also widen the gap between Turkiye and the rest of the West. It’s not far fetched to imagine a day, in the not too distant future, when the satanic black flags of ISIS might fly over the Capitol, in Ankara. Even now, Erdogan has trouble deciding whether to to fight ISIS or aid them.
To more fully understand what’s going on in Turkiye today, we need to go back in time, to when the Turkish Republic was established — largely though the efforts of one man, Ataturk. The long-revered (almost worshiped) “Father of Modern Turkiye,” Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, began life as just plain Mustafa; there then being no surnames. He was such an unusually bright scholar that his teachers added “Kemal,” an honorific meaning “the brilliant one,” or something like that. Mustafa Kemal saw his future in the army, and when WW I was being fought along the Dardanelles, at Gallipoli, Mustafa became a genuine hero, which led to his becoming head of the first Republic of Turkiye, following the Treaty of Lousanne, in 1923. Mustafa instituted the use of surnames, adopting Ataturk (i.e., Father of the Turkish people) as his own, and began an inspired program to modernize the nation, and move it into the western block. He switched the exotic Arabic alphabet to Latin; banned strange religions (e.g., the Dervishes); forbade wear of the foolish-looking fez, and ordered all prostitutes to be veiled, which effectively stopped all other women from wearing the traditional ve1l; promoted rights for women; supported public education; separated government from religion; urged men to wear western dress; and modernized the nations industry. As a product of the Army, he well knew its importance to government, and so nurtured a close relationship with his fiercely loyal generals. Whenever, or wherever, a serious challenge to his progressive reforms might popup, the Army was quick to put out the flames. So, peace prevailed, and the nation crept toward westernization.
Throughout the years following his death, whenever sectarian violence erupted, and Sunnis began fighting Shiites, the Army moved quickly to restore peace. The Army was the key to continued progress and prosperity for the new Republic. It was thus that when the first publicly elected president (Erdogan, an irrational follower of Mohammed) came to power, his first act was to gut the entire high command of the Army, riding it of any and all loyal to Ataturk and his principles; that key act opened the door for him to begin the return of the nation to the dark ages of Islam.
Erdogan has already established that women’s rights are a thing of the past (e.g., “Women and men are not equal,”), and women’s faces are increasingly veiled all across once-progressive Turkiye. He tried to build the worlds largest mosque, right in the center of a popular park, in the most western, modernized section of Istanbul, but was, temporarily, stopped; now he is jailing journalists that disagree with his policies. He has also prevented U.S. Air Force assets, based in Turkiye, from attacking ISIS, and is even suspected of providing supplies to ISIS forces. Without Ataturk’s loyalist Army to stop him, it seems likely that he may soon have a caliphate in Ankara.
This is a very worrisome for the World, and one to which we should be paying much more attention. In the worst case, if we are forced to leave Turkiye, we will not only lose the use of our most important air base in the entire region, but what will become of the nuclear weapons stored there? There are two rings of security around them: the inner ring is made up of U.S. forces, but the outer ring, through which we’d have to pass to remove the weapons, is made up entirely of Turkish troops. Would we go to war with Turkiye if they stood in the way of removal of those weapons?
Yes, it appears that Turkiye is moving towards becoming just another repressive, Arab state, ruled by unreasoning worship of a mystical moon god; that’s bad for all of us.
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Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
There are two major parts of our economy to watch when attempting to determine its health: National Debt, and International Trade Balance.
The National Debt is the amount we owe to those that have loaned us the funds needed to cover the government’s spending more than it takes in by taxation. The International Trade Balance shows how much our national wealth is being increased or decreased, as we buy and sell abroad. They’re not really all that difficult to understand, and they are vital indicators of the nation’s strength, or weakness, so stick with me for a few minutes.
Our National debt can be thought of as a family budget, which consists of income and expenditures. When we earn more than we spend, our savings and investments grow; our family’s future becomes increasingly secure. When the reverse is the case, we take out loans to cover spending more than we earn. Loans involve payment of interest, which increases the amount of debt actually owed. No normal family can long exist when operating under debt, when such grows so large that we can’t even pay the current interest, let alone pay off part of the principle amount owed. That is exactly where we are as a nation today. Our National Debt stands at a record $18 trillion, and it rises about $2.5 billion EVERY DAY; that’s about $56,000 that each citizen (children included) owes today, and it’s growing every minute. Someone has to pay it, someday! Who will, and when? The answer is rather complex and confusing, but one thing you should understand, as our government simply prints “Monopoly” money, with which to pay the creditors, the value of your money decreases, and inflation rises still further (e.g., it today takes about $1,500 to buy what, in 1940 cost only $100). That dangerously ballooning National Debt is a result of spending far more than is taken in from taxation. Clearly we can’t afford what Federal Government spends now, yet we press on, adding huge new obligations, such as Obama Care, which dangerously increase that crushing debt. Government simply MUST, not only strongly, and with unwavering determination, resist any and all new welfare expenditures, subsidies, and “free” loans, but even take an “axe” to existing programs (e.g., Obama Care, Student Loans, Unemployment payments, etc.), while simultaneously identifying and rooting out corruption, greed and other abuses that waste billions of our tax contributions every single day. Failure to do this, ensures the near-term economic failure of the nation, and thus your way of life.
The balance of International trade (difference between what we pay for goods and services bought from others, and what we sell to them) doesn’t directly add to our national debt, but think of it this way: Your town has one bank, which opened business with $1,000,000 in its vault, which could be used to make loans to local businesses, and provide the currency necessary for simply buying groceries, or paying the doctor. As long as all business is done in town, that million remains available to permit and stimulate business of all types; but, when the town buys goods from other towns, that original million is reduced by such amount. If that continues, and unless the first town eventually sells more to the second town, the first town’s bankroll will run out, and business will stop. That’s where the U.S. is headed today: we’ve suffered constant deficits ($10-50 billion) in international trade, since 1976. The present deficit is more than $40 billion (i.e., $40 billion of our “bank’s” resources flow out, reducing the “bank’s” ability to function locally, and, as more “play money” is printed, with which to pay foreign businesses, the dollar’s value internationally drops, and inflation increases here at home. Recently a new, and very destructive player has entered this picture of international exchange: uncounted millions of illegal immigrants regularly send large portions of their unreported, and untaxed incomes, back to their native lands, thus even further draining vital dollars out of the nation.
The combined effect of these two destructive economic policies is unavoidably leading us toward national collapse, which would, almost certainly, introduce a period of lawlessness, crime, violence, disease, starvation, and racial/ethnic warfare of unimaginable scope and destruction. Starving humans do quickly turn into brutal, primitive survivalists. We have but two choices today: 1. Reduce the National spending craze, and insist on staying within an approved and balanced budget; while also reducing imports of what we buy to be equal to, or less than, what we sell (that implies rebuilding our gutted industries, such as coal and steel, while putting the population back to work in industries that produce things, rather than unmarketable services. Or, 2. Stockpile survival supplies for the years of primitive violence that will accompany national bankruptcy.
Sleep tight: your elected government officials don’t seem to really understand this, or else they simply don’t give a damn?
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Nov 6th, in this space, I presented a somewhat detailed discussion of the fiscal crisis facing this nation, because we are so heavily in debt that we can barely pay the interest due on those loans, and even that we pay with increasingly worthless dollars. I suggest that, to fully understand this editorial, you read, or re-read that column.
The referenced column ended with this [colored text here added, for present applicability]: “In summary: in order to avoid national, and thus also personal, bankruptcy, we must immediately cut national government spending by at least 30%; focus our national energies on restoring, repairing, and reopening the industries, such as steel, that once made this a great nation; while simultaneously creating a predominantly, technologically-oriented work force needed to produce, not only what we need here, but can even sell abroad, so that our destructive international debt is gradually reduced — even becomes profitable. I can’t imagine that happening.”
You will note, I trust, that a key element in any potentially effective plan to possibly avoid national bankruptcy, involves the creation of a technologically-oriented workforce, which brings us to today’s discussion, about subsidizing higher education.
There is today an urgent need for workers trained in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We are so short of such, that we import it, just as we import almost everything we need, which is why our international debt is going to destroy us, if not corrected yesterday. Whether in California’s Silicon Valley, or Florida’s Space Coast, a roster of valuable employees reads like a telephone book from India, because India’s government has, for a couple of decades, correctly recognized the importance of STEM training, and is therefore cranking out a steady stream of technically trained professionals, in all of the more important fields. At the same time, we (a much smarter group than those Indians) use an estimated 70% of our advanced educational facilities (that’s “college and technical schools,” Hillary) to train lawyers, social workers, athletes, actors, television personalities, sports managers, linguists, historians, and cosmetologists, none of which directly contribute to the national economic health.
That imbalance is untenable, and unless immediately reversed (i.e., 70% of students should be studying STEM subjects) will cause financial ruin, and, most likely, essential destruction of the U.S. of A. as we think we know it today. But our government, led by an inexperienced, tragically misdirected President, continues to promote college as a “right” enjoyed by every high school graduate, regardless of ability to pay for the education, and regardless of the individual’s ability to benefit from whatever education they might thus receive (e.g. a degree in Artificial Turf Management, for sports arenas, or some courses in Under Water Basket Weaving).
To continue with President Obama’s tragically misdirected approach to higher education, is to ensure national bankruptcy within a generation, at most. But when I, and a few others, suggest the vital necessity of making immediate and somewhat unpleasant changes to how we use tax monies to encourage young persons to pursue higher education, the predictable, socially progressive, liberal voices begin shouting “RACIST.” or other inflammatory terms; some have even suggested that any attempt to “discriminate” in how public funds are used in supporting higher education, would result in a flood of law suits (which lawyers would, of course, be especially pleased to see happen).
I suggest that government funds for post high school studies, should go first to those students, regardless of financial need, whom are enrolled in STEM courses, from Astro Physics to Applied Welding. If any monies then remain unmarked, it should go to important support subjects, such as Medicine, Law Enforcement, and Education. Our National debt is a looming disaster, along with the International obligations, so no tax monies — that’s ZERO — should be spent on unnecessary education (e.g., lawyers, beauticians, artists, athletics, personal trainers, dog groomers, tv talking heads, etc., etc.).
There is absolutely nothing racist, sexist, or otherwise prejudicial in my proposal. The opportunity to attend college, or technical school, and have it paid for by the government is open to all ages, races, religions, ethnic groups, and sexes. Not everyone will choose to study Chemical Engineering, or Naval Architecture, and that’s probably ok — as long as enough do to satisfy the nation’s need for such — because just as we must have those highly trained professionals, we need carpenters, miners, farmers, loggers, machinists, mechanics, masons, police, soldiers, etc. We already have an excess of non-productive persons, so not a nickle of tax monies should be spent on training more.
My proposal stops no one from making a career out of painting someone’s toenails, injecting colored dyes under human skin, or suing restaurants because their coffee was too hot; it only cuts off the use of tax funds to support such nonessential jobs. That’s not discrimination: it’s plain old common sense, which we’d darned well better begin to apply.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
The recent national elections seem to have, again, clearly shown that the state of our economy is the single greatest concern to most of us. Yes, it is reported that we are far more concerned about that “economy” than about such as Ebola, ISIS, global warming, or even an invasion of millions of potentially destructive aliens across our unprotected, southern border. Trouble is, our concern over the economy is usually very near-sighted: that is, we are far more concerned over how much we are being paid, for whatever we do, and whether or not we can find a job that we prefer, which pays what we believe we need to afford the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed, than we are about the big picture (the national economy), which inevitably controls our narrow. selfish interests. Unless we act, immediately and decisively, our national economy will destroy America as we know it today — yet it appears that neither the man on the street, nor our government, has any plans to even consider what needs to be done — let alone, to do it.
I’ve stated it, repeatedly, during at least the past decade The underlying cause of our looming economic demise is in that we are heavily in debt, both to ourselves, and to foreign nations, and those debts grow, exponentially, by the minute. As of this time, our national debt (for such as welfare, defense, medical care, etc.) exceeds $14 trillion, which comes out to about $45,000 for each man, woman, and child in the nation (not counting the millions of illegals). On top of that, we owe more than $6 trillion to other nations, which adds another per/person debt of about $30,000, for a total 3/4ths of a million dollars debt for each person legally in this nation. If the creditors demand payment, are you ready to contribute your share?
Clearly, we can’t go on this way — adding to the staggering debt by the minute. There is, somewhere, and sometime, a point at which payment is required; if we can’t pay, creditors will (effectively) seize our homes, automobiles, jewelry, large screen tvs, and (GASP!) our cell phones. Our way of life would be over.
The solution, to avoiding such an unthinkable event, is obvious: we must significantly (by at least 30%), and immediately, reduce government expenditures. While easy to accomplish, painful, and absolutely necessary, that alone won’t eliminate the looming threat that international lenders will demand payment, which we don’t have. Fixing the huge, and constantly growing debt, resulting from buying more from others than we sell to them, will be far more difficult, and take decades to show improvement: we therefore need to get started on it yesterday.
For more than two generations, following the end of the Second World War, we have carelessly and thoughtlessly dismantled this nation’s ability to produce things (ships, trains, tractors, wheat, cotton, coal, oil, steel, etc., etc.), which we need and use, as well as sell to other nations. Many factors have contributed to that disastrous position in which we today are poised (e.g., greedy labor unions; incompetent management; misguided environmentalists; an increasingly less industrious population; and a trend towards utopian, Socialistic leveling of wages and wealth). “Work” is just another 4-letter word: who anymore “works” for someone? Today, we’re “associate with,” or perhaps, “employed by,” but, Heaven forbid, “work”? Instead of digging coal, rolling out sheets of gleaming steel, launching ships, or harvesting corn, we prefer desk jobs, with important-sounding title, in air-conditioned office, where little or nothing is produced.
There are two basic groups of work: productive, and others. For many generations economists have estimated that, in a healthy economy, about 70% need to be working in production; today, in the U.S., less than 30% are; that’s why we are forced to buy so much from other nations, which runs up the crushing debt under which we now suffer. We either correct that imbalance, or we will surely fail, and be destroyed. But to do that will require traumatic changes to our established way of life, and, even if fully and quickly implemented, take decades to save the nation.
Basically, the solution requires a sharp turn away from the cushy, spoiled lifestyle to which we are now accustomed. We must emphasize the importance of “workers” that actually produce the things we need, but which we can also sell to other nations. College should be essentially reserved and designed for the production sector (agriculture, mining, engineering, mathematics, architecture, sciences, technologies). Scholarships, and other attractions to attending college should be reserved for those producers; we already have far too many lawyers, sociologists, cosmetologists, historians, humanities majors, fine arts, drama majors, etc. Technical schools must be significantly increased in numbers and importance: perhaps half of all high school grads seeking higher education should go there, or nowhere. We need welders, carpenters, machinists, masons, miners, plumbers, electricians, and farmers, rather than poets, linguists, and lawyers.
In addition to “glamorizing” workers, instead of television personalities, and to providing the technical training required to get vital industry repaired, restored, and reborn, we must get government out of industry’s way. Taxation and choking regulation have forced one industry after another to either close its doors, or move out of the nation For example, it wasn’t so very long ago (when we were a prosperous nation) that such as U.S. Steel were the foundation of our booming economy: today, we ship our scrap iron to China, where they turn it into steel, which they return to us aboard Chinese ships, all of which we pay for by increasing our debts.
In summary: in order to avoid national, and thus also personal, bankruptcy, we must immediately cut national government spending by at least 30%; focus our national energies on restoring, repairing, and reopening the industries, such as steel, that once made this a great nation; while simultaneously creating a predominantly, technologically-oriented work force needed to produce, not only what we need here, but can even sell abroad, so that our destructive international debt is gradually reduced — even becomes profitable. I can’t imagine that happening.
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF PRINT PUBLICATIONS — AFFECTS YOU AND ME
The U.S. Postal Service essentially committed suicide, through inept management and near-sighted, selfish, labor unions, but we need the Postal Service, for such as delivery of legal documents, so, the Government will, most likely, continue its life support, or find a suitable substitute.
Newspapers, on the other hand, along with other print publications, while similarly withering on the vine, are doing so for very different reasons. Technology, when combined with an uninformed, and image-oriented, public, has cut the onetime. vital, base of readers out from under newspapers and magazines. I will miss my daily paper much more than I do “snail mail.” I also wonder how businesses, and governments, will handle the legal requirements to publicize specific actions, such as tax sale of properties, if there are no newspapers? Will government support them, as it must the Postal Service?
I was blessed in having been able to live my most formative years in a home where books, magazines, and newspapers were an integral part of life. Although we received some news over the radio’s regular, evening broadcast, most of what we learned about life, and the world outside, came from the wonderful print publications found throughout the house; thankfully, there then were no boob tube, Internet, nor misnamed “smartphones.”
Later in life, I was privileged to be allowed to contribute stories and photos to such magazines and newspapers, in 49 states and about a dozen nations. As recently as the late 1970’s, my opinion columns and nonfiction articles were appearing regularly in, at times, 35 different publications. It has, therefore, been a personally sad spectacle, as I watched the financial destruction of the print periodical industry.
Although I was excited by the apparent arrival of the electronic computer (first personal model didn’t appear until as recently as 1972; I quickly integrated it into my rapidly growing business as a freelance journalist and photographer), I never envisioned a day when that same handy device, along with the advent of the Worldwide Web and digital photography, would kill my beloved business.
The relative inexpensive cost, and ease of use, of digital cameras, made it possible for a legion of amateurs to occasionally make a decent photograph, which, coupled with the convenience of the newly developed Internet, made it possible to flood the available markets with “free” (“just mention my name”) photos, so photo editors saved big bucks by using the free stuff, which quickly formed a searchable data base on that same Internet, further decreasing the purchase of professional photography, which was more than half of my once profitable business.
That marvelous, potentially promising Internet all-too-quickly began to compete with print publications, as entranced users of the new technology began getting their news and other information off the wonderful “Web.” As readership rapidly decreased, so did the print media’s main source of income — advertising. Recent data shows that, from 2000 to 2013, advertising revenue for America’s newspapers dropped, from around $63 to $23 billion; and that at the same time during which one Internet business alone (Google) celebrated a record advertising income of $58 billion. Almost immediately, upon noticing the rapid decline, we began receiving notices from longtime, publisher clients that, “Due to budget reductions, we regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to buy your articles or photographs. We regret this very much, and wish you every success elsewhere.”
I’ve shuttered my beloved business (providing photo-illustrated, non-fiction, articles — mainly about either travel or photography). That was a very sad day for me; and I don’t see how the World Wide Web, and the Internet, with or without television, can replace those destroyed newspapers. Most newspapers (excluding the sensational tabloids), while politically biased in on way or another, did try to be accurate and reliable in what they printed. Readers would declare, with some confidence, “It must be true! I read it in the paper.” Obviously, one cannot (although we do) make a similar statement about what is published over the Internet. As newspapers close shop, the accuracy, and dependability of what we “read” as news, diminishes proportionally; that almost surely will adversely affect the nation as a whole — and substantially so!
The Internet has many marvelous features, and some remaining potential, but no one, myself included, envisioned that it would also destroy newspapers, and, along with them, the credibility of the news we absorb.
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated feature, by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to some reports (incestuously, from the Internet itself), each and every day, approximately 75 million persons participate in one or another of the dozen or so, social networking sites creeping across the Internet like a spreading fungus. Why are so many of us using our limited time in that way, and is it a worthwhile activity, or perhaps, as many say, “Just a destructive waste of our limited time”?
In theory, the idea has much promise for mankind. Essentially, it provides a means for persons unable to enjoy human social activity in person, to do so vicariously, from the comfort and safety of their homes; at the same time it offers everyone an opportunity to participate, actively or otherwise, in conversations about almost any and every imaginable topic. Potentially all that seems to be a marvelous, simple, convenient, and relatively inexpensive way for us to keep informed on topics of general interest, better stay in touch with real friends and distant relatives, while exercising our minds, which, let’s admit it, aren’t always used productively. But what are the facts; how are we using and abusing these potentially useful new tools?
It seems that the largest part of what is exchanged over these popular networks is just simply the works and ideas of others, or merely idle gossip: there’s precious little that is original, adequately thought out, or worth reading or viewing. We are quick to hit the “Copy and Share” buttons when we come across something that catches our eye, as we spend huge blocks of daily waking time sitting at a computer and “surfing” the Internet, or, more recently, doing something very similar on our telephones, which we seldom speak into anymore. Unlike most established newspapers, and mainstream magazines, wherein editors work to ensure the accuracy of what is presented (except for opinion columns, which are clearly marked as such), essentially everything presented on the uncontrolled and unedited social sites, is nothing other than one person’s opinionated dreams and mindless emotions, which are, fundamentally unreliable. Trouble is, human nature is such that we are all too ready to accept as fact, those opinions that we are drawn to — especially if they tend to support opinions of our own. Then, because of the extraordinarily large size of some such discussion groups, a certain “mob mentality” can begin to develop, wherein you must either agree with, and enthusiastically support whatever the current belief may be (e.g., global warming; the promise of pollution-free living thru solar energy; homosexual marriage; or falsified, propaganda pictures of some sort), or you are attacked and ridiculed by the group. behaving much like drunken fans at a soccer game. The result is that children, of all ages (even in their 50’s), become addicted to causes and beliefs that are either substantially, or totally, without foundation on fact. For example, there’s the wide-spread conviction that the U.S. never put a man on the Moon: the entire thing, it is believed, was a Hollywood film, just like Star Wars.
In addition to getting emotionally involve in projects based on false information, or half truths, and spreading such information like a virus, we seem to believe that anything and everything we come across while wasting time surfing the Net, must surely interest all of our thousands of cyber “friends,” so we copy and post an endless, repeated, stream of cartoons, hopelessly optimistic and romantic sayings, cute pictures of animals acting like humans (or humans acting in reverse fashion), which clutter up the social site, along with our minds.
Then there’s the photography! The unfortunate development of digital photography, and, especially the dreadful “cameras” built in telephones notebooks, etc. has made possible the creation of a flood of personal photography far worse that those intolerable “slide shows” we once were forced to suffer while a guest in someone’s home. In some, difficult-to-fathom, way, we seem to think that each and every one of the usually deplorable photos, which we mindlessly, and automatically, create, simply must be shown to the world, so we post the whole unedited bunch, of usually similar, blurry, poorly exposed, scenes, and do so without clearly-necessary explanation (which takes too much of our valuable time). This “quantity, rather than quality” trend is just one of the many undesirable spinoffs of the digital age and social networks. We produce more and more, seeming, evidence of our existence, but each piece of such is worth less and less.
Of course, the simplicity, ease, and speed of Internet communications degrades more than just photography: our ability to write to be understood is being eroded as you read this. We flagrantly, and seemingly acceptably, forget the rules of grammar, spelling, and composition when writing for the Internet. We see it permissible to use crude and vulgar language, and those that may bring such to our attention are simply “rude, picky, old geezers”, that aren’t “with it.” To even save more of the time we’re wasting on social sites, we develop a rapidly growing list of unauthorized and unrecognized, puerile abbreviations (many obscene) which serve to confuse educated, mature readers, whom are castigated and publicly ridiculed if they dare inquire about the meaning of such. Do you know, for example, the meaning of “rotflmao,” “MIL” (not short for “military”), or “4Q.” or “FU!”? It seems possible that, if we continue in that way, we’ll eventually be “communicating” by largely unintelligible grunts and screams, which some seem to now do, anyway.
A quick look at what’s posted on the most popular social site (Facebook), shows that the large majority consists of copies of bits and pieces of trivia, quickly grabbed while mindlessly scrolling through endless pages of trash posted on the Internet. Included in that torrent, of worthless images and text, are catchy greeting card sayings; rantings by unknown and unvetted “experts”; fuzzy videos of dogs turning cartwheels, someone indistinguishable allegedly doing something naughty or newsworthy; and photos of (you can’t quite make us out, but that’s) my adorable (whichever) at lunch, with me, somewhere indistinguishable.
There are exceptions; they’re all too rare, but they’re there. A handful of my cyber friends are actually capable of writing an original, thoughtful, readable “post,” which causes the mature, intelligent reader to pause, think, and, perhaps, respond in kind. And there are another small group (some share both qualities) that are capable of posting a few of their own photographs, which are carefully selected, both for quality and possible interest to others. I venture, from my often categorized “addled, emotionally confused, drug induced, old man” state, to assert that, at least 90% of what’s eagerly posted on such as Facebook, is mindless mush at best: dangerous, warped, or tragically misguided beliefs, in all too many instances.
Yes, the unpleasant truth is that sites such as Facebook, which hold great promise for mankind, have been taken over by what, mostly seems to be a bunch of teenaged girls at a slumber party, wherein each talks, continually, and gibberishly, about nothing, because it’s all about me, and what I have to say, while of no significance, is more important than what I could be learning from others — especially my elders. And, surprisingly, such girlish traditions as slumber parties, are, in this suddenly “enlightened age” liberally sullied with vulgar language (e.g., “asshat,” and far worse). These social sites, all too often, accomplish little other than the promulgation and fostering of ignorance, rumors, propaganda, hate, illiteracy, false hopes, immorality, irresponsibility, sloth, and expectations that big government will take care of everything, as long as we toke a joint, join hands in a circle, and sing “kumbaya.” Sad, but true.
My present participation in Facebook, is my second such experience: prompted by suggestions from distant relatives, whom see more of the site’s promise than its looming failures and dangers. I terminated my first involvement (with Linkedin, as well as Facebook) because of disappointment in what those electronic groups were accomplishing; it now seems quire likely that I’ll close the Facebook door a second, and final time. There’ll apparently always be e-mail, with which to efficiently and easily stay in touch with those that really matter — even though there is worrisome indication that many of the younger set (whatever that may be?), are increasingly ignoring e-mail, in favor of even easier means of electronic communications, such as texting, which add still further to the continuing degradation of all-important, human relationships.
Well, that’s my take on the subject: but then I’m just an old man, so, what could I possibly know.
Of Cabbages an Kings is a syndicated column, by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at email@example.com.
It has recently become clear, to me, that the majority of what you read or see, on any part of the Internet, is carelessly in error, or is just plain intentionally deceptive. Of course, that includes what you’re reading at this moment, because what I have to say is only my opinion — even though such “opinion,” in my case, is based on 87 years of observant life, begun in a morally strong, conventional family, that placed the children’s education (in more than just the best available public schools) ahead of all else; then broadened and strengthened that by unusually useful college educations, extended military service, very wide, world travels, developmental work in emerging fields in science and engineering (e.g., space and electronics), jobs with national and international governments, along with 35 years experience in journalism.
As a child, my parent’s home was unusually filled with the best available newspapers and magazines; they, for example were charter subscribers to LIFE, and shelves were filled with carefully saved copies of National Geographic. Each weekday evening, Dad brought home a well-read copy of a NYC newspaper (long out of business today), which we three children read with great interest. We heard radio reports of more immediate news developments as reported by giants of the broadcast news business, such as Lowell Thomas and Edward R. Murrow. As a family, we freely discussed news and opinion, clearly separating the two into distinct categories: pure news seldom presented anything later proved to be in significant (never intentional) error, and was routinely accepted as fact; opinion columns, and editorial comment were always subject to analysis and debate as to accuracy and balance, and were thus justifiably, and vigorously. debated.
The arrival of television (c. 1939) didn’t change that much, and demands of WW II anyway kept television from becoming part of most homes, for at least another decade. During all of that time, we had basic trust in what was printed in newspapers, or reported by the evening radio news broadcast. However, by the late ’70s, when television’s lively presentation had already essentially doomed radio news reporting, begun to force news magazines out of business, and seriously reduced newspaper readership, along came the personal computer, soon followed by the fast-spreading Internet, which immediately, and seemingly forever, changed the way we received what we once called news, but quickly became gossip, rumor, and unfounded opinion.
The Worldwide Web, spread, like Plague, across the Internet, and quickly became the source of choice, by most of us, for obtaining what we continued to refer to as “news.” Almost overnight (so it seems anyway) scores — perhaps hundreds — of news and opinion “publications,” produced on the kitchen table, by egotistical, ambitious individuals, with little experience in anything worthwhile, began to appear on that Internet. Fascinated followers were soon quoting from, outright copying and claiming as their own work, and rapidly reproducing and forwarding the often unreasonable visions and irrational opinions of those creating such electronic publications. Not only were the written “reports” all-too-often dangerously flawed (sometimes intentionally), but even the photography (still and/or video) accompanying the text was frequently unrelated to the story, and/or was significantly altered or otherwise fabricated to support the author’s opinion, however flawed that was on its own.
The creation of social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), whereon individuals, by pushing a button, can copy an undocumented and unsupported “news” event, then post it on their page of that social site, so that their electronic “friends” can see how worldly, wise, and “with it” they themselves are, was an unfortunate development. Not only written texts, but artwork and documentary photography were thereby “forwarded,” copied and pasted (without appropriately crediting the originator, who’s soon forgotten), so that, if a story was salacious enough, it’ll “go viral,” becoming gospel fact, because, “I read it on the Internet.”
When you happily “share,” or otherwise copy and re-publish stories that you think will improve your image with cyber friends, you all too often come off looking ignorant, silly, shallow. or simply stupid. How many versions of the “news” report about the man that, allegedly, woke up after a colonoscopy, wearing women’s pink panties, have there been, and did you forward at least one of those? Are any based on fact (the photos with them are all different and have no association with the event, if it even happened). And did you fall for the report, with photo of attractive female soldier, that one woman had killed at least a hundred of those evil ISIS crazies, ensuring that they will roast in Hell? To how many did you forward that unsupported story? How many similar, eye-catching reports on the Internet have you quickly considered as worth forwarding, and bringing to the attention of your Facebook ‘friends”? We seem, in our thoughtless adoration of “click here” technology, to have embraced the Internet as some sort of ethereal intelligence, which it clearly is not.
Yes, there are reliable news items available on the Internet; they are usually identifiable by indications that they came from such as AP, UPI, or Reuters; that said, the vast majority, from giant Huffington Post (remember the big bad wold that “huffed” and puffed), to miniscule Rita.Rosenfeld.Blog, are little other than fanciful opinion, masquerading as news. Don’t be taken in by them, and never propagate what they post, without an obvious disclaimer as to the undocumented, unreliable source. The thing to keep in mind is that: If I saw it on the Internet, chances are it’s neither factual, rational, nor worth repeating nor discussing.
As I pointed out, at the start of this discussion, what you’ve just read, was presented on that same Internet (although it’s also been, or soon will be, printed in newspapers).
Of Cabbages and Kings is a syndicated column, by j.g.nash. Relevant comment may be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.