Five Long Years

The fall of Western civilization can be charted by the declining number of book readers.

Yesterday was National Book Lovers Day, and on social media it came in like a lamb and went out with a whimper. On twitter, it never made Trending status in the many hours I was on which says a great deal about where everyone’s heads are these days. As expected, facebook and the mainstream media ignored it completely. Why? The answer is a simple one.

Readers a.k.a. thinking people, are dangerous to the rising regime.

“Book Lovers Day is celebrated on August 9 every year. This is an unofficial holiday observed to encourage bibliophiles celebrate reading and literature. People are advised to put away their smartphones and every possible technological distraction and pick up a book to read.” Wikipedia

I did my bit by contributing a half dozen tweets which were repeated on my facebook page that, not surprisingly, ranged from serious to amusing. Most saw no engagement. Yes some genuine book lovers tweeted, as well as some booksellers, but this was an opportunity missed by almost every author, publisher, educator, and library I know and about a million others I don’t.

We all talk a good game when discussing the importance of reading in America, but when it comes to actively doing something collectively about the problem, we fall flat.

Changing how we parent, educate, treat the environment, allow ourselves to be governed. . . all have become political, and this is why intelligent people no longer participate in these discussions. The prevailing rampant stupidity in politics has silenced the majority who need to speak out and be heard.

I thought book people would be different.

I know many are introverted. I also know they are smart. Why is it they do not realize their apathy endangers their beloved books. Here’s how the world works, kids:

If you are not fighting for it, they will take it away.

 

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Bureaucrazy

The only business that has never seen a downturn is government.

Public servants my ass!

Government employees are a special kind of crazy—similar to academics—in that they are completely incapable of functioning in the real world.

You need only look at a ditch digging project where the white and blue hats outnumber the yellow hats—the only ones with tools—to see how far removed from reality they have become. Collectively, one blue hat, two white hats, and three yellow hats are costing the taxpayers about $350.00 per hour as they stand around talking while looking at the ditch.

two man holding white paper

Productivity and efficiency mean nothing to these people.

None are motivated to work hard or to get the job finished as fast and cost effectively as possible. Their jobs are secure for as long as they want them, and a significant pension awaits when they have had enough. In addition to their generous top-of-scale salaries, they and their families enjoy complete short and long-term disability insurance, medical, drug, and dental plans. . . all paid for by the taxpayers.

The blue and white hats decide to have lunch to discuss the hole in the ground further so they jump into three separate government vehicles which they pay nothing for, and they expense their two-hour $120.00 bistro “business lunch” back to the taxpayer. In a bizarre rationalization, they consider themselves to be taxpayers because they pay taxes, so they feel entitled to such expenses. To them, it is as though they are paying for their own lunch. With only an hour or so left in their workday, they all head home early to beat traffic.

Meanwhile in the real world. . .

Somewhere out there right now is a young guy with a family to support, driving a ten year-old pickup truck which he bought; paid to licence; pays insurance on; pays to maintain; pays to put fuel in, and who also bought the pick and shovels in the back with his own money.

yellow pick up truck on grey concrete road

He is digging a hole too.

He estimates one hard day of ditch-digging should get the job done. His hands will be blistered and his back will be sore come lunchtime when he gets to eat his brown-bagged mid-day meal, lovingly made by his wife from last night’s dinner leftovers. On completion, the customer, which he had to find by making calls and sending emails each night after work, will pay him $200.00 for a day’s work. He will set aside 30% for income tax; 11% for business taxes, and 20% to keep his business operating. He and his family will attempt to live and build a secure future on the remaining $78.00. He worries about how long he can keep up this pace. Last month’s dental bill for the kids wiped out their savings. Regular dental checkups for himself had to be shelved in favour of keeping up with his workers compensation insurance payments.

He has been called the backbone of America.

Sadly, this hypothetical taxpayer’s back only lasted into his forties. He called up the government-run workers compensation department for help when doctors said he could not return to his job. The bureaucracy seized the opportunity to kick him when he was down. To them, with every denial and penny-pinching move they were saving the government money while simultaneously justifying their own continued employment within the bureaucracy. They do not acknowledge who pays the government they work for. ‘Claimants are the enemy. We are not accountable to the taxpaying general public.’

These bureaucrats had the audacity to question HIS integrity.

They are oblivious to the hypocrisy which is all around them. They even went so far as to accuse him of being a scammer before finally sending $680.00 each month.

Pull your heads out of your asses America.

This level of inequity is not sustainable.

Why be a starving writer when you could be a starving naked artist.

I am so sick of computers and everywhere they take us.

Being a writer means being married to your computer. Things are made worse if you are a published author because you also have long term commitments to social media and publishing sites. My almost one-year-old Dell is an evil wife. She has melted down twice in the short time we have been together; a RED FLAG if ever there was one. So why continue to put up with the daily torment of weak WiFi, boggy performance due to updates and background processes, and the general stupidity of the online world when there is little or no money in it?

I can do other things.

The real question is: What other things can I do which don’t involve computers? I could reinvent myself once again as a post modernist painter. I might use my initials to create a new artist identity: Ethan Alfonso? It has an artsy ring to it. I could add a hook as well: All Alfonso’s are painted in the nude. Post modernist erotic portraits of lonely housewives and  divorcées, painted by a still pretty hot naked guy, should get me laid more than writers do. The fee for such commissioned portraits would certainly exceed what I make as a writer; perhaps several times over. For a tiny initial investment—far less than book publishing—I could whip off a bunch of samples to lean against the walls of my apartment for prospective clients to peruse; perhaps over wine, if they are hot. I could sell some works beach-side while working on my tan. Once summer ends here, I can move into a spacious van and travel to various beach communities down South, chasing the warmth of the sun, and making Canadian winters something I don’t do anymore.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s possible I might be killed by a jealous husband, but this has always been my preferred check-out plan anyway.

Sounds like a worthwhile endeavour to me.

Where is that art supply store?

I’d Google it, but this hunk of junk Dell—soon to be ex wife—sucks harder than the vacuum of space during a hull breach on the Enterprise.

Now twitter is doing it.

As if the mother Zucker wasn’t bad enough with obvious societal conditioning techniques built into his flakebook algorithm, now twitter is showing its hand. They too have had their user privacy issues, but twitter was always a place where you didn’t feel as controlled and manipulated. You could reach out to people the world over, and if you added them to a list, you could see everything they posted. If they were not English speaking, you could click the translate button to see what was on the minds of people in Europe, Asia, the Middle East. . . to gain a more honest global perspective than what we are offered in American media.

That ended today!

Twitter has been ramming the “New Twitter” down our throats for a while, but we had the option to revert to “Legacy Twitter” which many users did. It wasn’t an option today, and the Translate Tweet function was gone in addition to some other user niceties.

‘We can’t have American minds being contaminated by other countries.’

They are closing up the box with us in it.

This final straw will hasten my departure from anti-social media. They just keep taking away all that was good about these platforms and replacing them with more ads and user data collection. I don’t need to stick around to watch the death of social media, I’m just glad to see it go.

Antisocial Media: 10 Awesome Protocols Nobody Talks About

Rated R.

Warning: this content contains Reality. Reader discretion is advised.

Social media tips from an antisocial misanthrope?

You are definitely spending too much time online.

Tip 1: You must do what everyone does to be one of us. . .

one of us. . .

one of us. . .

These online “societies” have rules and will not welcome, nor do they tolerate, anyone lacking their level of sameness; yet nowhere are their expectations of your behaviour written down so you might quickly learn how best to conform. There is a reason for this.

Tip 2: They want you to fail.

They are eagerly awaiting their opportunity rant over your misstep whether you goof up publicly, among friends, in groups, or in private messages—for you have proved yourself an unfit miscreant who needs to be beaten back into submission, if not ostracized completely, in the hope shame will drive you back under the rock from whence you came.

Tip 3: Being “friended” on flakebook or “followed” on twatter should be considered an honour not to be taken lightly.

It means you can DM (Direct Message) an egotist anytime of night or day. WAIT! I’m just kidding. Back when PC’s were the tool of choice to hop on social media, this was okay, but now that smartphones dominate and control their owner’s every thought, they are rarely ever out of reach and almost never turned off, so the likelihood of waking someone up becomes very real. Besides, it’s way too early in the relationship to be talking privately. Take it slow; you’ll be able to show them your boobs or penis soon enough. You must build up to a DM by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts for a period of not less than thirty days. Take it from me, this is how to get a narcissistic egotist turned on enough to get them naked.

Tip 4: Liking

There is a fine line between being a devoted follower and a stalker, and the line is different for everyone. I like to visit pages to see if people are really as uni-dimensional as social media algorithms make them appear—before I dump them. I am absolutely certain that on occasion, I have liked enough of their posts to be considered a creeper, but I don’t care. I’m a social media heretic. Don’t over-like or you may be cast out—leaving you no choice but to attempt to build an online relationship with people like me . . . and really, what are the chances you’ll make the cut?

Tip 5: Sharing

Twigger people want you to retweet their tweets so their thoughts might reach a wider audience. Conversely, fakebook people are often incensed when you “steal” their posts, which they found elsewhere on the internet all by themselves. Somehow, to them, searching for and saving a post grants them copyrighted proprietary ownership of a meme created by someone else. People have actually timidly asked me if it was okay to share posts I had already stolen from someone else on f-ckbook—so sweet, nice, and polite—I wonder if any of them survived this year’s slashing and burning of the deadwood?

Tip 6: Commenting

If you are following a hottie on social media, you will never get anywhere by telling them how gorgeous you think they are in their latest of a long string of half-naked selfies they just posted. The best you are likely to get for your effort is a liked comment. If you really want to have any chance of getting on their list of possible candidates for an online fling, you will have to follow them closely—a.k.a. stalk them—to find out where their passions truly lie.

Tip 7: Engagement:

In the olden days, engagement meant you had a fifty-fifty chance of getting some action. The same is true on social media. When you see them posting, it is a safe time to engage. Once you have stimulated your crush’s interest enough, by publicly commenting on their passion projects, or by feigning empathy and compassion when they are unhappy, they will begin to engage with you. This is public banter, flirting, or intellectual foreplay so it’s best to only be offering to stroke their ego at this point. Pretending to be truly fascinated by whatever you have been commenting back and forth about publicly, creates an opening to DM them with more private thoughts on the subject. Congratulations! You are alone with them. No, you can’t send nudes yet . . . unless they have confided the are lonely, drunk, and horny—even then, you should encourage them to go first. Most of the time, you will have to cultivate the relationship further before the sexting begins, but at least you can talk dirty a little. Remember, Mark Zuckerberg can watch the show, so you might want show some restraint.

Tip 8: Just the tip.

In this age of immediate gratification, there seems to be some added urgency placed on online sexual activity. It’s as though these participants are afraid their WiFi signal will be lost just as they are about to climax. Do they think they will never have another chance like this again, so they just get right down to business? Perhaps they are hiding in the washroom trying for a quickie behind the back of their significant other. Who really knows? You wouldn’t believe how many times I was flirting harmlessly—or so I thought—only to be gifted a spread eagle pussy pic with the classic two-finger labial parting stretch, when I was really just angling for a nipple pic. I’m not complaining, but a little bit of A to B to C makes it better. While I have only a dozen or so such experiences notched into my laptop, I feel it is safe to say: The younger the woman is, the quicker she will be whipping out the pussy. If I were to use a baseball analogy, they are getting a hit and running straight to third base.

Tip 9: Non-sexual DM’s?

I suppose a case can be made for such utilization of Messenger. I have some platonic online friends I chat with now and then, as well as a few business clients. The one thing I can tell everyone is: If you run a business of any kind, NO ONE wants to be pitched in Messenger. I’ve even been bitched at for sending people event invitations through Messenger. Apparently, the protocol is you must have chatted a little before any business can be discussed which goes back to what was said earlier about the cultivation of a relationship.

Tip 10: Wrapping it up.

There are a few redeeming aspects to online hookups:

  1. You don’t have to wrap it up. Apparently, computer viruses are not considered STD’s.
  2. You can have a wide variety of casual meaningless sexual encounters, but it’s best not to mention you do while it’s happening, if ever.
  3. For you cheaters out there, this is the safest, easiest, and most forgivable way of trying to satisfy the emptiness inside you.

As I inch ever closer to parting company with social media, with the exception of blogging, I try to find some highlights from the four plus years invested to take away with me. Aside from getting to know a handful of truly good people, only a couple of moments stand out. Years ago, I triggered a viral post with my comment which reached over 22,000 people. A short time later, I was one of a very few people Taylor Swift followed on twister. I thought it was kinda cool, and I used it to poke fun at, my then, semi-significant other who was, and likely still is, quite literally insane when jealous. Taylor, who I now laughingly refer to as “the bitch”, dumped me shortly after I tagged her in a tweet. She probably followed me by accident or expected me to behave like a guru with a PHD in psychology. I probably should have dick-pic’d her when I had the chance. The thought never occurred to me because enough famous female performers have already seen it—live, up close, and in a very personal way. Perhaps this is why I struggle to understand the males who engage in this behaviour and their reasoning behind perpetuating this phenomena.

Being “social” implies people are: approving, welcoming, approachable, jovial, and cordial.

I just do not see how this applies to social media sites.

 

Waiting is the worst!

 

photo of a woman thinking
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

They say “No news is good news.”

I disagree. Not knowing fosters anxiety even in a guy like me who is wildly over self-examined. You receive a cryptic message about an emergency situation telling you they will get in touch as soon as more information is available. You wait; all the while consciously trying not to think the worst, but as the hours pass you inevitably let your guard down allowing the darkest possible outcomes to play out in your mind.

Times like these test your beliefs. As my handful of readers already know, I am not religiously inclined, and I have attempted to shed almost all beliefs—viewing them as traps which serve no other purpose than to allow us to be manipulated, usually through fear. I no longer fear for myself, but I do fear for others; especially those close to me. After ten hours of checking my phone, I did something that helped to ease my mind which could be labelled in a number of different ways depending on the beliefs of the person applying the label. I looked at the sky and thought:

‘Please, let them be okay.’

Most would call this praying. A far smaller number would say I was putting positive energy into the universe to create a desired outcome. For me, it was merely a mental exercise to firstly accept a situation that was outside of my control, and secondly, a way to master my anxiety once again. I never say there is no God or gods. Instead, I leave room for the possibility. While I would like to think we live in a deterministic universe where we each have free will and where, if we channel our collective energies in a particular direction, we can control destiny or fate. Sadly, thus far at least, there is no absolute proof of this one either. What I find fascinating at times like this is I am willing to give them a go without any belief in them. My “Leave no rock unturned.” approach may be the reason. If it can’t hurt and could help then why not?

Studies into prayer and meditation show the human brain behaves very differently when we partake in these activities, indicating there is “something to them”. Maybe we level up our consciousness, or maybe we just reduce our brain activity to a level where we find clarity; where we can accept that some things are outside of our control, and where we can let go of our irrational fears. After all, it is fear that spawns our worries, and it is the quantity of those worries we created in our head which can lead us into full-blown anxiety.

Some would say my “prayer” was answered.

I will not and cannot allow this label to be applied to my story, for if I do, I would become narrow or closed-minded with a singular viewpoint, and I like to think I have outgrown being that guy.

Why choose black or white when there is so much gray area to be explored?

It took two more hours of waiting, but the news I finally received was not terrible. Did God intervene at my request? Not likely. Did I use my incredible mind powers to have the universe alter our reality? I seriously doubt it. So what did happen then?

Life happened.

Things are not in our control. They never have been throughout recorded history. Everything is temporary, including each of us. The control freaks who rise to power and prominence do so by having a narrow focus. It serves them for a while, but historically, it inevitably leads to their demise because a time ALWAYS comes when they need to consider possibilities outside of their doctrine. We see maniacal despots in the media each day who are single-mindedly hell-bent on creating division and hatred everywhere they can. They only have power over the closed-minded, and this is why they work so hard at recruiting or creating the like-minded.

Avoid choosing a side because neither side can see the other possibilities.

It’s been a rough year, so why should December be any different? However, today’s news was not as bad as some of the outcomes from my anxiety based mental conjuring. For this I am grateful. As we enter the holiday season, I hope you and yours are safe, healthy, and happy. If you fall into this lucky group, please take a moment to realize how lucky you are. Not everyone is as lucky as you. Life really is about luck, and the funny thing about luck is it can change in the blink of an eye.

P.S.

If you know someone who espouses the notion that we make our own luck, remind them that while hard work and focus can help them climb the ladder of success, only a healthy person can cling to the rungs.

Happy Holidays.

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Turkey News

Dinner conversation for know-it-all’s:

croissant bread on clear glass cake stand
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Contrary to popular belief, tryptophan induced turkey comas are not a result of turkey containing a greater quantity of the amino acid than other foods, but only our overindulgence at this time of year. You most likely do not go back for seconds when you eat other poultry, nor do smaller birds allow for days of leftovers in sandwiches and soups or stews.

Enjoy your holiday.