Global Trembling Part 2: The Cure?

Last month we talked about how information overload is making us crazy with fear and paranoia, distorting our perceptions of reality.

But I also argued that Global Trembling isn’t merely hallucinations from overstressed minds, it has real causes.

To quote: “Information overload makes us feel out of control.”

The fact is, we aren’t in control. The forces that drive events today are infinitely stronger than the outdated institutions we created in earlier times to manage the world.

Not long ago the victors of World War II established the United Nations to enforce global peace and justice.

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Global Trembling: The Toxic Cloud

You can feel the tension everywhere. In America, where we’re having a fearful, farcical election. In Europe, from the Brexit shores of Dover to the refugee-laden borders of Turkey. Even at the Olympics, during what is supposed to be a celebration, the opening speech told us that the world was coming together in Rio at a time of dire, global crisis.

Really? The summer of 2016 is uniquely frightening and insecure, compared to other Olympiad years when things were so tranquil the speeches never said a discouraging word?

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The Popular Song: America’s Greatest Cultural Achievement

As beloved as it is, I don’t believe the popular song enjoys the cultural status it deserves. Perhaps that’s because the popular song is not an elite institution. But neither is the democracy that produced it.

The song instinct is as old as humanity. But, just as it took technology and a particular civilization to go from the mud hut to the Great Pyramids, it took technology and a particular civilization to go from war whoops to Stardust.

All the necessary preconditions for the emergence of the popular song came together in America. Many cultures from around the world gathered here, some voluntarily, some enslaved. They all brought their folk music traditions. Those traditions evolved in the new continent.

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Donald Trump: Tin Man

Like almost every pundit and prognosticator alive, I was totally wrong about Trump; I thought he’d burn out in a few months. But unlike most of my fellow scribes, I should have known better.

Writers tend to be a highly educated bunch, schooled in fine universities, equipped with the best that academia has to offer.

Not me. I was a Tin Man. Anything that could be sold in the home, I sold. Encyclopedias, aluminum windows, adjustable beds, vinyl siding, home security systems and cheap roof jobs: I knew how that game worked and I was pretty good at it.

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To Break the Gridlock, Break the Grid

The two party system of American politics has become the two party systemic dysfunction of political gridlock.

The parties created the grid. Now there are signs that it’s beginning to break up.

Exhibit one is Donald Trump. He is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party. But Donald Trump is a Republican like the leader of the Chinese Communist party, Xi Jinping, is a communist.

But this is not a column about Donald Trump. Though I can’t help but notice that Karl Marx saw Trump coming 150 years ago when he wrote: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Way to nail it, Karl.

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Diversity versus divergence.

Diversity has become a civic virtue. Politicians, businesses, sports teams, the Oscars, all must heed the siren calls for diversity or pay the price.

Diversity is a good thing; I’m not arguing against it. Groups long-excluded need the moral push of diversity to help them claim their fair share of the American Dream.

But diversity can run away with itself and become divergence. When the Black Lives Matter protestors boo a Democratic candidate for saying “all lives matter,” when Native Americans and Native Hawaiians want to secede and become separate powers, diversity is derailed.

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Spring Cleaning for Spring Training: Time to Take Out the Trash

Don’t let the rainy days fool you, my friends. Spring training has begun in sunny Arizona; the baseball season is coming on fast!

But before I can sit back and enjoy opening day, I need to clear up some space on my hard drive and make room for line drives.

To mix metaphors, and why not this silly spring, my mental attic is overstuffed with political rubbish, dimwitted talking points, and other election year residue. It’s time to take out the trash.

Let me begin with the Republicans’ foolishness in rejecting Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in advance. What are they thinking? They’re either going to nominate Donald Trump, who can’t beat Hillary, or go to a brokered convention, where they’ll pick some guy the voters rejected who can’t beat Hillary. So why would they want to blow their last chance to have a moderate justice selected by a moderate president Obama?

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Nobody is supposed to read your diary

The latest numbers of teenage and young adult suicide are horrifying. Kids are killing themselves at a near-record pace.

Experts differ about the causes of this alarming trend. But I believe that one significant factor is the lack of privacy caused by social media.

Social media can be good a good thing when it alleviates isolation. When you’re growing up and going through changes, it’s nice to have some virtual “friends” who are going through the same things.

But a part of you needs isolation, to discover who you are, to think privately and fearlessly about your fate and foibles, your present and your future.

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Why Do They Hate Us?

What has America done to make so many people hate us? Why are they so anti-American that they want to “blow it up” and make us start all over again, playing by their rules, not ours?

If they were from the Middle East, or pledged allegiance to ISIS, their hatred of America might make sense.

But they’re not from those places, they’re from right here, America. You can see their anger and hatred on display at every Republican debate, on the podium and in the audience. They’re us.

And it’s not just limited to Republicans, there’s plenty of hatred aimed at all American institutions.

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‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly?

We have come to the end of another year, a time when tradition says we should celebrate. But that’s coming a little harder for me this season.

I couldn’t even watch South Park the night of the San Bernardino shootings. It didn’t feel right watching my favorite TV comedy that day. I didn’t want to laugh.

I made it through this difficult year and so did you. We should be happy about that. But there is so much agony in the world, and recently in our fair state, that celebrating feels inappropriate.

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