Friday, June 30, 2017

The Age of Wonder, Part II

The most visible signs of the Space Age, the Information Age, the Age of Aquarius and the Age of Other Cool Things Too Numerous To Mention were progress!

Human civilization was moving forward. In the aftermath of World War II, organizations and programs like the United Nations, UNICEF, Care, the Peace Corps and others were all working to bring the diverse people of the world together. As Disney’s dolls from the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair sickeningly but unmistakably harangued, “It’s a small world after all.”

Meanwhile, medical breakthroughs were being shared with the world, with global attempts to defeat malaria, cholera, diphtheria and other scourges.

The Space Age helped raise the awareness of science and technology, but government celebration of the arts also helped promote education in music, literature, visual and performing arts.

All this amounted to an Age of Optimism. World War II was behind us, and it seemed we had the power and the will to make the world a better place.

But somehow during the 1970’s, that will eroded. It was replaced by the conservative view that we’re here to look out for ourselves, and other people are simply not our problem. Maybe our disastrous experience in Vietnam convinced us just to mind our own business.

And since, we’ve been back and forth, ping-ponging between the competing visions: “America the bountiful” versus “America, land of the me and home of the craven.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Age of Wonder

I was born at the dawn of the Space Age.

It was also the dawn of the Information Age, the Age of Aquarius, and the Age of Other Cool Things Too Numerous To Mention. That last category includes Peace, Love and Music (later, Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll).

This period, the second half of the 20th century and the first smidgen of the 21st, brought many social changes and technological innovations. We can now carry TV sets in our pockets, and we have even more ways to waste time with them. There are new, even more boring kinds of lettuce. We have remote control voting machines. And we can now talk to our appliances, eliminating the onerous task of pushing buttons.

We eat health food out of single-serving plastic containers. We drive around in hybrid cars that reduce the CO2 emissions of going across the street. And we can share our most intimate secrets and deeply held beliefs with Mark Zuckerberg and hundreds of people we don’t know through the charm of social networks, the next best thing to being there.

We are now much more accepting of lifestyles and cultures that differ from our own, as long as they don’t appear in public. We have new gender categories undreamt of by our forebears. We have hate crimes in addition to crimes of niceness.

Truly we are living in an Age of Wonder.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Apologies to Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in the dump.
From scientific warnings dire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it’s up to Donald Trump
I think he’d be stupid enough
To leave us heading for the dump
Where climate stuff
Is a rat’s rump.


Pundits have talked about “Trumpism” as if there were some actual coherent thinking behind the President’s plans and priorities. From what we can infer from Trump’s words and actions, Trumpism consists of the following:
  1. Ally with anyone who says nice things about Trump.
  2. Get taxpayer support for any property with the Trump name on it.
  3. Promote close relatives of Trump.
  4. Attack any media outlets or individuals critical of Trump.
  5. Spread the word via the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.
  6. Promote the Trump brand and any Trump family businesses.
  7. Disregard world leaders who are not Trump.
  8. Make the world safe for Trump.
  9. Despite the constant negative press covfefe because … Trump.
  10. If there’s any time left, undo anything done by Obama.