What’s a Selfie in East Baltimore?

Whether “selflies” are indulgent or the modern portrait is too distant in “Too Poor for Pop Culture” where D. Watkins shows money is access to popular culture. As the middle-class swoops down to new depths be prepared to return to radio, dumb phones, crap comfort food, and disinformation. You won’t know what you’re missing.

“A yo, Michelle was gonna beat on Barack for taking dat selfie with dat chick at the Mandela wake! Whateva da fuk a selfie is! What’s a selfie, some type of bailout?” yelled Dontay from the kitchen, dumping Utz chips into a cracked flowery bowl. I was placing cubes into all of our cups and equally distributing the vodka like, “Some for you and some for you …”

“What the fuck is a selfie?” said Miss Sheryl.

“When a stupid person with a smartphone flicks themselves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eyebrow, “Oh?”

It’s amazing how the news seems so instant to most from my generation with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actually it isn’t. The idea of information being class-based as well became evident to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old story as if it happened yesterday.

Money make the difference between participating in popular culture or not.

Dontay cleans nonstop. Roaches sleeping in the fridge, roaches relay racing out of the cabinets carrying cereal boxes, purchasing homes, building families, slipping through cracks for fun and weaving in and out of death — Dontay bleaches them all. Dontay doesn’t take handouts from us and won’t go on government assistance. He couldn’t contribute to the chips and vodka that week so he’s cleaned for Miss Sheryl and would clean for Miss Sheryl even if there were no chips and vodka.

“Chips and Vodka” Everybody just trying to get away. Better chips and vodka than a smartphone or iPad. If you wonder why…

Eventually the mass death of my close friends caused me to leave the drug game in search of a better life. Ten-plus years and three college degrees later, I’m back where I started, just like my card-playing friends: too poor to participate in pop culture. Too poor to give a fuck about a selfie or what Kanye said or Beyoncé’s new album and the 17 videos it came with.

I bought Beyonce for the sake of research and it weirdly rocked me for several days of indoor food preservation work while dealing with cold weather and holidays. First time I have bought an album within a week of its release–just hit “Buy” in iTunes. I didn’t even write about it, yet. That album is three days of chips and vodka. Listening to “Drunkin Love” or “Flawless”  doesn’t do the same thing

You can’t even comment on your own existence much less hear of others when chips and vodka poor. Urban Amish. Urban neoluddites  unable to break apart the machines taking their jobs away–or know what the hell a luddite is. I’ll send them a selfie of one.

Jim n

Checking Out Dudes in the Shower

Jonathan Vilma, is afraid a gay team mate would check him out in the showers? Are you freakin kidding me? This guy goes out and pounds people into rubble and is afraid he’ll be looked at for sexual reasons? This is why, this is the cataclysmic reason to bash and exclude?

Vilma represents that male population most likely to treat women like shit in sexual objectification and abuse–ok, that’s why. He knows what it is to give it and doesn’t want to get it.

It would be good for him to be in a team of boy-boy gay football players where he is only one of a couple of hetero’s, the other closeted.

Better yet maybe if he actually had male friends he’d get over the sex and nudity thing. If relationships create bridges then his best bet is a boy buddy. Once he’s trained, umm, had a relationship, he can stay or go back.

Jim n

I Can’t Watch the Debate

I just tried again to watch the debate… I got past Ham and got to Nye and that was it. It was either continue and throw up or stop.

I haven’t felt such a visceral effect since reading Nausea where Roquentin is overwhelmed by the portraits objectifying him and the world in their opressive stares.

It is a personal choice to engage in a debate.

We need communication on all levels.

This is really scary.

Jim n

German Bishops Pine for Obedience

In a Monty-Python inspired movie about a rabbit that kills people, the current pope puppy is most charmingly deferential, as if all can come to church. Well, yes but only come to church. The Eucharist, Heaven, Christ’s Presence? I don’t know, are you divorced? Have you had an abortion, use birth control, are gay, philander, or simply not willing to voice Christ is your savior?

German bishops are concerned too. The pope is sending the wrong message.

Since his election last March, Pope Francis has hinted at possible reform on divorce and at a more welcoming approach to homosexuals. But he has stressed he does not want to change core Church teachings such as the ban on women priests.

Hell, any of those are show stoppers for me but no women priests? Why would anyone care–rather women must be able to speak in this venue! Does this inanity of tradition have to be survived as Oprah says about racism in some?

The German bishops suggested the Church should move away from what it called its “prohibition ethics” of rules against certain acts or views and stress “advisory ethics” meant to help Catholics live better lives.

In a so-Catholic rhetoric the bishops say to advise not prohibit. I can almost hear William F Buckley softly hiss those words out as a pean to genteel and properly-educated charity, as hiding a really big stick.

The Trojan Horse was a beautiful sight. It inspired the eyes and hearts of those who knew not the wily ways of Greek warriors. Trojan leaders saw the hollow, wooden statue full of Greek soldiers as charity and recognition of superiority. Trojan people loved the beauty, grateful for peace…

Jim n

Einstein, Prayer, and the Superbowl

50% of the US believes that god or something supernatural has some sort of impact in the Superbowl. Considering what an upset it was it’s no wonder why. Like lab pigeons if we think a thought or do an act before a successful action we give credit for that success to something outside ourselves. It was the amulet, the little dance, the good words,  being with god that caused the success–50% believed this in the Superbowl.

Like a caveman we would hope that thinking like a Lion will make us able to beat the Lion–that was always the biggest point in foraging–think like the deer, rabbit, or plant or tree, if you wish to succeed.

We tend to think of empathy as a means of encouraging positive social relations but I would say it has a definite utility of manipulating the world in which we live. Knowing how your enemy or prey thinks helps conquer or capture them. Empathy enables conquest or support, either way.

I tend to think of it as the god-bias. Humans tend to believe they are god like or they have direct connections to god(s). An extension of the personal agency bias. It used to be rulers thought they were gods literally and now people think they have a godly connection. This is damn slow progress.

A letter from a student has shown up adding more fuel on just how religious Einstein was. “Dear Einstein, do scientists pray?”

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

The last paragraph is of course the clincher and is familiar with those who have followed the various posts last year on whether feelings of awe or awesomeness are proof of god or some such intangible spirit. Einstein is clearly stating that science hasn’t stopped faith in a personal god and also that many scientists experience a religious feeling of “a special sort” (wonder what the German is here) which is quite different.

Sadly religiots conflate any sense of being connected or feeling in awe as being that supernatural dictator that will allow that ball to go a little wild in the world series. A kind of in-between miracle. Not big and showy but enough to make the difference. Like that little change in time travel SF shows where the change doesn’t affect history greatly.

It can’t be a moral issue as who can tell who should win. Maybe one player is a jerk but the other team has jerks too. If morality were it, people would pray for the most moral or pure team to win and leave the judging to god. No, people pray for their favorite team to win for reasons other than morality.

Sad, really, all that prayer going to waste. If prayer worked wouldn’t it be far better to pray for the talks in Syria than some pro football game? Or if football really does inspire you, to pray for better helmets, fewer injuries, and less corruption?

Jim n