TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Generation Wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Generation Wars. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Awaken the Amnesiacs 8: You are Now Inside the Computer


Image Source: The Hedge Mason.

The Urban Dictionary defines Youtube comments as:
"The only place where a polite discussion about kittens can lead to a flame war about government conspiracies."
Conspiracists vary in style. On Youtube, there is a spectrum. David Seaman's vitriol approaches incendiary levels, his this-is-not-a-threat promises are so chilling that they help me understand the history of mass psychology better, especially that of the 1930s.

This post is not exactly about Seaman, nor the accusations he levels in a brooding monotone at the bankers, politicians, deep-staters, evil cabal, establishment figures, and finally - the tech leaders who censor him (like Youtube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, whom he calls "Catshit Face"). This post is about Seaman's and others' rhetorical style in relation to conspiratorial subject matter, and what it means for all of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Enter the Frontier



Earlier this year, I developed an idea about 21st century change which I call the 'Wild West Theory of Innovation.'

The theory is about the real dynamics of change. It states that radical change produces actual, hard change and expected stabilities will not remain; moreover, the ideas and people that initiated the change do not and cannot contain outcomes. Those outcomes take change agents to the fringes, to the 'wild west.' Change can suddenly become a negative threat, because old ideas stop working, produce bad results, or can be co-opted by one's opponents. To find the positive aspect of change again, one must adapt to the new environment.

I developed the idea in relation to Bitcoin, not politics, Brexit, or the American election. But it applies to 20th century political animals and 21st century technological innovators alike, who have aligned themselves morally and politically with what they regard as positive change. They should not be surprised when they innovate themselves into a frontier territory, dominated by marginalized characters and alien concepts.

This is a non-political blog, so the point here is not to criticize any groups or counter-groups, but to consider why socio-economic reform and technological innovation are double-edged swords; to depict how we arrived at the outer edges; and to find a positive path through the frontier.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Blurred Line and the Hard Line


Under conditions of anomie, a fictional social network diagram shows competitive offshoots or spin-off groups, who redefine old norms to create new societies. Image Source: Wiki.

Technology, combined with the Great Recession and globalization, transformed societies, economies and politics through the turn of the Millennium. The mask of the materialist capitalist dream slipped with revelations from the Panama Papers, while also showing how that dream is connected to non-capitalist societies. The latter do not have better systems or superior ideologies. Hierarchy, exploitation and inequality are universal human problems. This post is not about who is correct, but who is seeking to control the claim to be correct.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Time and Politics 17: The Oath


Microbiologist Dr. Siouxsie Wiles brings science to the public in collaboration with artists who paint with bioluminescent bacteria: "Bioluminescent portrait of Donald Trump at the WSF Brisbane, painted by Ray Coffey. Photo by Chris Proud, Old Museum Network (Queensland Museum [Australia])." Image Source: SBS.

On 20 March 2016, Bill Maher joked on HBO (ep. 14/381) about Donald Trump's ignorance, because Trump claimed to get all his information off the Internet. Trump has also promised to shut down the Internet if he is elected. He stated he would shut down parts of the Internet domestically and internationally when necessary to restrict terror operatives. He later expanded that promise beyond terror threats. Snopes found the reports on Trump and the Internet to convey 'mixed truth'; on 7 December 2015, Trump stated in South Carolina:
"We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way ... Somebody will say, 'Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.' These are foolish people."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Hallowe'en!


Sepik: Arts from Papua New Guinea: "The first exhibition in France to be devoted to the arts of the peoples of the River Sepik in Papua New Guinea ... [an] exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly brings together 230 works from its own collections and from those of 18 European museums." This display of ethnographic art from Papua New Guinea runs from 27 October 2015 to 31 January 2016 in Paris. Image Source: Alambret Communications.

Happy Hallowe'en! This year's countdown proved truth is stranger than fiction, and horror is often not what it seems to be. From a press release kindly sent to me by Alambret, on a current Paris exhibition of the arts of Papua New Guinea:
The Sepik is the longest river in Papua New Guinea. It is situated in the north of the island and covers a distance of 1,126 kilometers before it disharges into the Pacific Ocean. Large swampland, since the first millennium B.C. this area has sheltered peoples who live on the banks of or in areas close to the Sepik River and its tributaries. These societies have evolved in a world where every object lends itself to being sculpted, engraved or pictorially represented by animal and human figures or abstract motifs.

Sculptures, hooks, necklaces made up of pearl oyster shells, slit drums, bamboo flutes, wickerwork headdresses, coconut bowls, panels of painted bark, modelled-over skulls, whether they belong to the everyday or appear during ceremonies, are adorned with images or signs linked to nature and ancestral figures either human or animal.

The exhibition presents the results of 35 years of research led by Philippe Peltier, Markus Schindlbeck and Christian Kaufmann. The pieces presented were chosen for their formal qualities and their ethnographic interests. Some of them are icons of the art of the Sepik. They all demonstrate the great diversity of forms developed and materials used by the inhabitants of the river banks.
The press release for the exhibition is here.

As for fantasy, if you want to watch a scary film tonight, I recommend It Follows (2014; see it here); filmed in Detroit, it is original, low-tech, and terrifying. After a one night stand, a teen girl finds herself relentlessly pursued by a dumb entity which can possess those around her. That simple and familiar premise is executed brilliantly, partly because the young characters are trapped in unsettling retro horror time loops. You can see Gen X director David Robert Mitchell explain the opening shot for the NYT, here. Below the jump, see a clip from the film, and a Millennial or Generation Y-oriented analysis of the film.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Quote of the Day: Generational Analysis is a Glorified Horoscope


A generational meme joke, brought to you by America's Tea Party.

Today's quote comes from a comment at the foot of an article at Aeon magazine (Hat tip: Kate Sherrod). The article argues against the use of generational labeling. See my earlier post criticizing the use of generational labels - a post-war marketing tool - because they are sources of stereotyping and bigotry: The 99 Per Cent, Generation Catalano, and Why Generational Labels are Fake. From Ramone:
I agree with your point about generational analysis being a glorified horoscope that leads to stereotyping, scapegoating and confirmation bias feedback loops. My parents are "boomers" so they are supposed to be wealthy, selfish, greedy and have robbed "Millenials" of all the good jobs etc. etc.

It's ludicrous to believe that people who, through an accident of birth, were born in the same generation all share personality traits because they were born between such and such a year and therefore are to blame for societal shifts affecting subsequent generations.

I find it frustrating that the so few people are making the connection between the capitalism-in-overdrive world we have today and the huge wealth gap, and the fierce competition for scarce jobs and resources. Sociopathic and stone crazy Silicone Valley billionaires openly talk about replacing the state [with] "efficient" corporations and collecting every piece of information down to our genomes and letting technology operate free of any oversight...and how all this will bring about a "utopia" (and coincidentally make them the most powerful people on earth)....well, TED talk audiences and media people listen and nod along with with these nutcases and the general public thinks it's only about electric cars, search engines, trendy gadgets and a popular website. Does anyone actually LISTEN and understand what these guys are proposing? Deluded evil (the road to hell is paved etc.) gets a pass but blaming the state of the world on the "inherent characteristics" of an entire generation is perfectly rational and reasonable.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rewrite the History of the 1960s


Unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty (1885). Image Source.

This week, my post on Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder was highlighted on one of Gen X's best blogs, Are You There, God? It's Me, Generation X. While thanking Jennifer James and checking the other links she listed, I was struck by the way Generation X remains ensnared as an echo generation, its identity projected upon from the outside by a narcissistic Boomer narrative. Jen writes: "Part of my intention is to maintain a tiny space on the Internet where evidence of Gen X society can be preserved." Why is her mission such a struggle?

Head of the Statue of Liberty, displayed in 1878 after completion at the Third Universal Exhibition, or World's Fair, in Paris. It was exhibited in Paris for several years before being shipped to the United States. Image Source: Albert Fernique (born c. 1841, died 1898) / LOC via pinterest. Published in 1883 in Frédéric Bartholdi's Album des Travaux de Construction de la Statue Colossale de la Liberté destinée au Port de New-York (Paris).

The Boomer narrative, that blinkered, one-track view of history, started as a story about 1960s' youth counterculture and fighting for liberty from the establishment. Boomers' liberties made them into libertines, who erected a monument to their own whims and pleasures around the period from the 1967 Summer of Love through 1969. The entire world now seemingly turns around that temporal pivot. Sometimes, it is also treated as a historical bottleneck. For the post-war period, 1967-1969 becomes a shorthand for the social, political and economic history of what happened in developed countries, and everything must go through that chokepoint, as it relates to the Boomer story. But what if everything didn't go through that chokepoint? What if that is not the way things happened? What if other histories ran concurrently from the 1940s through to the present that go unacknowledged because they don't fit the generational story? What if this is not a story about generations at all? What if you can find millions of individuals who don't fit the generational idea, and what if constructing a whole new social order around social alignments based on horizontal categories like 'age' is fake? If any of these suggestions are possible, then the history of the 1960s needs to be radically overturned and rewritten.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of the Retcon 3: Time and Heroism in the Multiverse


Morrison's 18 Days retells the great Mahabharata in an animated CGI drama on Youtube (you can watch it here). 18 days is the length of the battle in the Mahabharata. Image Source: Broken Frontier.

The wavering fictional reality of DC Comics resembles theories from today's quantum physicists.  A comic book fantasy of multiple Earths and multi-dimensional universes aligns with contemporary scientific ideas of a fractured multiverse and mysterious dark matter.  It makes one wonder: if our physicists are right and the multiverse is real, what sort of creatures are we because of it, and how do we feel its effects?

Multiversity #1 (October 2014). "Every comic you ever read is real." – Grant Morrison. Behind the Panels review: "Morrison directly challenges the reader. 'Whose voice is speaking in your head anyway? Yours?' The same narration urges us to stop reading. That’s when things get beautifully weird."

Are we pawns of a larger order we will never perceive? Scottish writer Grant Morrison would say: yes. He is delivering his long-promised crossover, Multiversity, right now via DC Comics, and a glance at the multiversal map below shows that he is combining years of esoteric interests - mind expansion through drug dreams, a fascination with ancient Indian epics and religions, and a belief (expressed in 2012's Supergods) that modern superheroes are manifestations of ancient gods. More importantly, in Multiversity, the heroes exist along a metafictional continuity with our reality and time. They are part of humankind's long quest to define the line between creation and destruction, from which everything else follows in this world, and other worlds too.

DC's map of the Multiversity (August-September 2014; click to enlarge). Image Source: DC Entertainment.

From 2009 to 2013, Morrison worked with Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics to produce 18 Days, a retelling of the Mahabharata, in which a classic Indian battle sees the age of gods give way to the age of men. Two of the founders of Liquid Comics are author Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham Chopra. Deepak Chopra famously discussed these ideas with Morrison at several comics conventions; the Chopras also published a book about it, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (2011). CBR reported on one such discussion in 2006 in San Diego:
Superheroes, in Chopra's view, are not external beings. "These are archetypal beings that stoke the fire of life and passion in our own souls. These are potentials that exist within us, and by creating these superheroes through our own collective imagination, we are in a way serving our deepest longings, our deepest aspirations, and our deepest desires to escape the world of the mundane and the ordinary and do things that are magical."
Morrison draws from Indian traditions to marry that consciousness to the cosmos of existence. Thoughts become physical substances in other dimensions. The great epic of the multiverse involves the genesis of values in that consciousness through dharma and karma, action and negative action, creation and destruction, good and evil. In our reality, mythical heroes are legendary archetypes. But Morrison insists that these paragons embody physical forms in other times and places.








18 Days concept art by Mukesh Singh. Images Sources: Decode Hindu Mythology, Comic Vine, Concept Art, Dynamite Comics, Planet Damage, Mukesh Singh.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bitcoin's Origins: Generational Circumstances and Mentalities


Image Source and © Scenes from a Multiverse (27 December 2013).

Today's post explains the origins of cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin's alarming headlines. Under what circumstances was Bitcoin conceived? What do its proponents believe? And why do they think they are ahead of the curve?

This post does not deal with Satoshi Nakamoto's founding Bitcoin white paper, so much as its context. To understand the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is to understand the perspective of younger generations - X and Y - coming out of the Great Recession. They reacted to this crisis in a most unexpected and radical way, by developing a whole new digitized financial system. This post reveals Bitcoin in terms of how its users see it, and is part of a continuing series on this blog on the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies.

What follows is an observation of a series of trends which contributed to the way younger cryptocurrency enthusiasts look at Bitcoin. While this post looks at positive aspects of this technology - as seen by its supporters - a future post will deal with its problems, other perspectives, and Bitcoin's theoretical challenges to the system of western economics.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cryptocurrencies: Doge-ing the Economic Bullet


Image Source: Geek Culture / Joy of Tech (2013) via Syes Wide Shut.

In February 2014, the Financial Times argued that the older generation is monopolizing positions of power and authority while enjoying dwindling fruits of the economy to the detriment younger people. In the summer of last year, Pope Francis warned against the impact of unemployment and reduced opportunities on the younger generation. Other reports similarly state that during the Great Recession, generations X and Y felt betrayed by their Boomer elders.

Under these conditions, members of the younger generations are making a lateral move, building different areas of economic activity and new financial institutions which by-pass the established spheres of economic authority. Can they really dodge the economic bullet?

Among these shifts, none is moving more quickly or explosively than the advent of cryptocurrency (which started in 2008). But does the very youthfulness of cryptocurrency, both in terms of how new it is, and in terms of the geeky culture around it, prevent it from being used and taken seriously? Also, there is a question of criminality, hacking and total ineptitude in this nascent financial area. This is one of several upcoming posts on the meaning and long term viability of cryptocurrency.

In the wake of the Mt. Gox exchange collapse, this joke isn't so cute anymore. Image Source: Vice.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Millennial Cultures of Belief


Jan. 7, 2014. White whales and their trainers present a show for visitors at Harbin Pole Aquarium in Harbin, China. Image Source: Lintao Zhang—Getty Images via Time.

For many today, this is a secular age. Yet everywhere, we base our actions on belief. Popular investment in the system depends on faith. Every time you get on an airplane, you are participating in a culture of belief; you are trusting the credentials, training and abilities of the pilot and co-pilot; the company which hired them and which maintains the airplane; and the company which built the machine in the first place. You have to believe that they will collectively see you through to the arrivals gate at the other end of your journey. You are placing your life in their hands for a few precious hours. To travel by air, you have to believe you will survive.

Faith transmits an individual's power into the system. On the basis of belief, we offer our ability to work, think and function - the whole span of a personal lifetime - to every facet of larger society. Institutions and governments demand the same trust as an airline, but extend the period of trust across decades. In exchange for accepting these structures, as well as cultural and sub-cultural products marketed as mass and niche norms, we develop relationships and communities which support us. We participate in economies which should support us. The political, economic, social, institutional, business and governmental systems are worth as much faith as we give them. And if we stop believing in them, their power dwindles down, sometimes to nothing, and migrates elsewhere.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nuclear Leaks 32: Fukushima's Media Mirror


Critics of anti-nuclear critics take to the Web: Fukushima worries are being labeled as hoaxes. Image Source: Hoax-Slayer.

When the Fukushima disaster occurred in March 2011, one of the Russian scientists who participated in the clean up at Chernobyl warned that the immediate toxic effect would come not from radioactive fallout, but from governmental and nuclear industrial lies. This blog has covered the Japanese crisis since the moment it began. Throughout, I concur with that scientist, Natalia Manzurova, in the sense that the meta-reality of Fukushima's nuclear event is even worse than the event. From my first post on Fukushima:
On 12 March, physicist Ken Bergeron stated: "we're in uncharted territory, we're in a land where probability says we shouldn't be." As the crisis unfolded, the HuffPo announced that there was no word in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's glossary for 'meltdown.' In a way, that lack of vocabulary has characterized the whole story, which is a miasma of confused information.
How does one amend an absence of information from creditable sources, without discrediting oneself? In May 2011, Vivian Norris mused at HuffPo about the terrible consequences of media silence around Fukushima:
I received the following email a few days ago from a Russian nuclear physicist friend who is an expert on the kinds of gases being released at Fukushima. Here is what he wrote:
About Japan: the problem is that the reactor uses "dirty" fuel. It is a combination of plutonium and uranium (MOX). I suspect that the old fuel rods have bean spread out due to the explosion and the surrounding area is contaminated with plutonium which means you can never return to this place again. It is like a new Tchernobyl. Personally, I am not surprised that the authority has not informed people about this.
... Why is this not on the front page of every single newspaper in the world? Why are official agencies not measuring from many places around the world and reporting on what is going on in terms of contamination every single day since this disaster happened? Radioactivity has been being released now for almost two full months! Even small amounts when released continuously, and in fact especially continuous exposure to small amounts of radioactivity, can cause all kinds of increases in cancers.
Even at the very beginning of this disaster, Norris observed the Japanese government and TEPCO (which, in 2014, is soon to change its name and undergo corporate rebranding) released information to the international media indirectly and slowly:
While foreign media have scrambled to gather information about the Fukushima Reactor, they have been denied access to the direct information provided by the government and one consequence of this is that "rumor-rife news has been broadcast overseas."
In fact, access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.
Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget.
Fukushima became a disastrous test of the Web's credibility as an unconventional media source when compared to the MSM. What Fukushima shows is that Japanese and nuclear authorities did not even need to lie in order to discredit their critics. All they needed to do was release little or no information, or release it too slowly. By creating an information vacuum, they opened the door to endless speculation, which is wonderfully self-defeating, because it can all be dismissed as speculation, as hoaxes, as ignorant fear-mongering.

When guesses and speculation about what has happened at Fukushima prove to be wrong - or are declared to be simply unproven - then a false argument is constructed, whereby any truths about the dangers of the Japanese nuclear disaster can also be tossed out. Genuinely serious concerns, like the employment of homeless people in the clean up, are drowned out or dismissed on the grounds that there is 'not enough information.' And to worry about things when there is 'not enough information' is to become a crank who makes things up. It is a locked circle of anti-logic.
Fukushima showed that the Web is not the bastion of free speech and unvarnished truth which its most idealistic supporters want and need it to be. Rather, the Internet is vulnerable to competing cultures of truth, in which data-driven arguments defend findings and counter-findings. Sub-cultures sprout up to defend different hierarchies of data-believability. But how can one get to the core, or corium, of truth in all of this?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Millennial Malaise


Vampire awaiting invitation in the doorway: Sean Chapman  as Frank Cotton in Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987). Image Source: Life for Films.

My last post on the demolition of French churches added to a sense of Millennial malaise this week. It came jumbled together on the micro and macro levels. A friend called to complain about a week of rude people and worse - people who are post-rude - who never knew what social conventions they violated in the first place. Another friend sent a link to a Gawker story about,
David Gilmour, the University of Toronto English professor who told a female reporter that he is "not interested in teaching books by women." "What I teach is guys," Gilmour continued. "Serious heterosexual guys."
A news story in a nearby town reported on a pregnant woman who was raped by two men on a well-traveled path behind her house, while she was walking her baby in a stroller. The baby was unharmed. And these days, that is surprising. Another local news story - in a normally low crime area - involved a girl who was almost abducted from the sidewalk by two men in a black van with darkened windows.

In non-local news, 300 teenagers invaded and trashed the home of ex-football player Brian Holloway in New York state. They posted their party on social media. At first, Holloway responded with unusual grace, and offered not to press charges if the kids would show up and help him fix the damage. He set up a Website to make his appeal. Only four teenagers showed up (some accounts state that one showed up) to help Holloway; the parents of the teens "threatened to firebomb his house, and are now planning to sue" Holloway rather than see their kids charged. After that, Holloway began pressing charges. Nor is this an unusual incident (see here and here).

There was the Kenyan shopping mall siege; I wondered if this was a not-so-dry run for terrorist attacks at other malls elsewhere in the future,  at Christmastime. A few other people thought the same thing (here, here, here, here and here). Then there was that island exposed by an earthquake off the coast of Pakistan, a bad dream made real, which is now emitting flammable gas.

Some entertainment news stories, like this and this and this, further reminded me that the cultural means for digesting the real world malaise have descended into an impoverished atmosphere. After that, I came upon a 2005 rant in the Guardian by the British actor Sean Chapman, in which he bemoaned the degraded state of the film industry in the UK.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ego-Enclosed Micro-Societies


Image Source: Time via Flavorwire.

By now, anyone who follows generational issues will have heard about Joel Stein's Time cover article (here) on how the Millennials will save the world. Joel Stein is a Gen Xer, and he should know better than to indulge in the same generational stereotyping that Time magazine used to condemn his own age group. Did his bosses put him up to it? For an overview of how Time cover articles have perpetuated  generational myths, see JenX67's response to Stein here. This is the worst kind of social propaganda and it deserves full condemnation.

If Stein had made broad generalizations about races instead of age groups in his Time article, there would be outcry across the MSM. Even when the message is positive, age stereotyping is no different than racism. Stein's article depends on two Boomer-generated narratives which depend on one another: 'Gen X is the anti-Boomer generation that failed'; 'Gen Y is the generation that will bear the Boomer mantle and save us.' This shows that Boomers, in their quest to build an immortal legacy, made age stereotyping and discrimination socially and professionally acceptable. The fact that Boomers now suffer from age discrimination themselves does not change the origin of the labels and their negative effects.

We need a new language to discuss generational matters and a new way to understand society that bridges age differences. Mr. Stein's unfortunate example aside, Generation X has become known (or rather: not known) for communicating about social experience in non-collective way. As a result, Boomers and Millennials often seem to think that Generation X has not accomplished, and is not accomplishing, anything. Where are Gen Xers, anyway? Why can't you google 'generation X' and come across ten national and international lobby groups and central hubs belching forth Propaganda on the Generation X Self? Where are the trumpeted announcements? Where are the big high profile articles in national magazines? Where are the Gurus and Big Leaders who associate themselves publicly with Gen X? Have you seen a Gen-X-labeled TV show lately? Where are the signposts which point to what Jeff Gordinier called the generational "kitsch" known as 'GENERATION X'? Gen X does not often speak the same language that Boomers and Millennials do. Like the so-called 'Silent Generation,' Gen Xers do not associate their successes with their generational identity. But that does not mean their successes do not exist.

Boomers and Gen Y cannot and will not 'change the world' until they abandon the mass-marketed illusions of ego-enclosed micro-societies and consider the behaviour of the Silent Generation and of Generation X. There are ways of functioning in society other than through self-definition and advancement at the expense of other age groups. The problems we face require consensus, cooperation, mutual respect and humility - and the smashing of generational stereotypes. We must abandon the promotion of the 'ego' as the ultimate source of virtue, power, strength, prosperity and success.

Consider what Millennials would be 'expecting' now, what they would be saying about themselves, and how they would be behaving, if they had been fed a different story from birth, a story that did not involve a grand manifest destiny for their collective Self. What if that story had simply said that they are all different, even though they share some cultural experiences with others their age? What if it had said that they have something to contribute, just as other people of other age groups do. Nor will their contributions constitute the sum total of success or accomplishment of civilization. It will be just another brick in the wall, another drop in the bucket. And yes, they have to defer to those with greater knowledge and experience, usually (but not always) a function of age. Similarly, those who follow them will have to defer to them, because in time, Millennials will know more than their successors.

For decades, youth-oriented marketing has peddled the idea that an explosive, 'fresh outlook' is the silver bullet in every circumstance, that brand new approaches are the best way to solve age-old problems. Usually, technology is mentioned as the game-changer. High tech has transformed age old problems into completely different issues, and Millennial brains are needed to grasp uniquely novel circumstances. It simply is not true.

Millennials who cling to the myths they were sold as children and teens in the 1990s will discover that they have been duped into supporting a very old school power structure. In that structure, the will not only not be leaders, they will be at the bottom of the pile. This Boomer-led establishment will tell Millennials any flattering lie about Gen Y's identity in order to retain power. If members of Gen Y continue to believe mistakenly in the marketing labels they are fed - and even if they believe anti-marketing which is supposed to be more credible but delivers the same myth in different packaging - they will find that their real world circumstances continually and increasingly do not match the world they were told they would find. That discrepancy should be their biggest warning sign to wake up. The last thing in the world they should do is get on that train, and start labeling others and themselves.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Boomer Legacies: The Employee-less Society


James Altucher: "People with jobs are like 'the walking dead.'" (2013) Video Source: Youtube.

The Baby Boomers inspire a long list of social and economic generational legacies which they do not care to acknowledge. As mentioned in this post, On Declaring Moral Bankruptcy, one of these legacies is the gutting of the liberal professions and the move to an employee-less society, in which employers feel no moral obligation or loyalty to their workers. The old concept of professional decency never worked very well, often was patriarchal or sexist and encouraged nepotism and other forms of patronage. Despite these deep flaws, there was at least a culture of professional behaviour which suggested loyalty ran up and down the workplace hierarchy. Increasingly, we see the opposite; workers are held to ever higher and more demanding standards, while employers wash their hands of responsibility to their underlings.

From Yahoo: the Daily Ticker's Aaron Task talks to James Altucher about why you should quit your job. See Altucher's site here, and his view in the video above that across all sectors in the economy, employers are moving toward temporary employees with no job security and no benefits. When employment numbers finally improve significantly, what you will not see in the stats is that we will be living in a new economy. In that new economy, there will be no job security.

The Great Recession, Altucher maintains, was just an excuse to get rid of expensive permanent employees whom employers wanted to remove anyway, due to outsourcing, technology and globalization. Your permanent job (if you (still) have one), Altucher insists, is going to disappear anyway, so start looking at what your parallel alternatives are as a solo-entrepreneur.

For the Baby Boomers who are seeking to cut costs, this is a remarkably short-sighted policy. It grounds the entire economy in the bottom dollar and ruthless soulless efficiency. But anyone could tell you that money is just an idea, and as such it reflects a philosophy of existence. Remove the humane aspects from the very human act of work and the society will overall become less humane. Could we not have made the transition to a more mobile and globalized economy without pulling the temple down upon our heads? That choice, which Baby Boomer employers made and are still making in the 2000s and 2010s, will have long term implications.

After being treated like this, I really wonder how eager Generations X, Y and Z will be to support Baby Boomers' exploding pension, health and other social welfare costs over the coming decades. Isn't there a chance that these generations might remember the 2000s-2010s, when they were casually fired and the culture of workplace concern for their welfare and futures was destroyed without a second thought? See my posts on Boomer workplace legacies with regard to Gen X here and here; Gen Y here and here and here; and Gen Z here.

For all my posts on 60s Legacies, go here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saudade for the Pre-Tech World


Youtube has a lot of great twentieth century media, which let us know just how different things were only 15 years ago.  One Youtube channel called Retrontario plays snippets from television shows and advertisements played locally in the Canadian province of Ontario in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. For those familiar with the area and time, Retrontario particularly conjures up the way Toronto used to be, when it still deserved the nickname 'Toronto the Good' (see my related post here).

Retrontario also carries several examples of TVOntario's public television offerings. Founded in 1970, TVOntario was and is Ontario's answer to America's PBS. It flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, when public TV was at its height. For decades, TVO's Elwy Yost hosted popular highbrow chatter about cinema and movie-making on Magic Shadows (1974-mid-1980s; see the opening here) and Saturday Night at the Movies (Yost hosted SNAM from 1974-1999; the show will be cancelled at the end of the 2012-2013 season due to budget cuts).  The end of a show like this symbolizes the end of an era on public television, pioneered by the so-called Silent Generation.

The province of Ontario has sometimes epitomized a negative stereotype of the Canadian character: stodgy, stuffy, earnest, traditional. The mentality of Toronto's sober, cautious, polite and well-fed burghers prompted Jan Morris to call ending up in Toronto, "second prize in life" in her book, Among the Cities.

However, on the positive side, it was that same stolid propriety that saw TVOntario cultivate in Ontario's public TV audience a civic attitude and responsibility toward intellectual engagement with culture. In a way similar to some efforts in the United States at this time, on PBS, and notably by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, TVO saw television as a medium of education. The aim was to depict a desired, prosperous and cultivated society. Television programs which dealt with popular and mainstream culture were crafted toward this larger purpose of higher culture.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Interview: Generation Y: Real World Praise, Virtual Control



I am pleased today to interview Matthew Duhamel. He is a writer and animator who recently wrote an opinion piece (here) at the Website Kotaku. The piece is entitled: All My Life I Was Told I Was Special. It Was A Lie.

Matthew, thank you for doing an interview with Histories of Things to Come to follow up on your Kotaku piece. You spoke in general terms about your age group. Your background chimes with some of the experiences commonly associated with Millennials. Therefore, I’ll include some generational questions, even though obviously an individual perspective can’t pinpoint group attitudes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Going Post-Political in the Siberian Forest


Image Source: Vice.

It is hard to believe how many people subscribe to simplistic political explanations of the way the world works, when the world is plainly so messed up that it defies easy labels. That discrepancy between reality and the explanations which we (and the media) project onto reality inspires cognitive dissonance, moral confusion and misunderstandings.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wire Hanger Moments


Joan Crawford (1905-1977). Image Source: George Hurrell via Photographers Gallery.

In this post, I mentioned a friend’s encounter with a Millennial who did not recognize Joan Rivers on television and had never heard of Alfred Hitchcock. Because pop culture and marketing so relentlessly target the youth market, maybe its not surprising that some members of that demographic don't see the world beyond themselves. Recently, a Gen Y commenter on Twitter claimed that one of the most discussed topics today in the world is his generation, the Millennials.

Really. There’s nothing else out there? The economy. The Web-turned-surveillance-society. The Arab Spring. Asia’s markets. The environment. The energy crisis. Space exploration. The tech revolution. Politics. Terrorism. Impending nuclear war.
Mass media create false realities; and it takes awhile to see past the bubble that has been tailor-made to cater to, and shape, one’s own demographic, nationality, subculture and class.
The path to understanding the falsity of generational labels begins when some extra-generational pop cultural reference leaves the uninitiated in the dark. Never knowing who a known figure is or was, is part of a natural process of forgetting in public memory. On the other hand, that memory is sometimes renewed through remakes, biopics, homages, quotes and similar references to earlier pieces of pop culture. In those cases, members of the younger demographic become aware that what they are looking at, or listening to, is a cultural artifact that is an echo of an echo of an echo.

I think back on my own Gen X ‘Joan Rivers ignorance’ moments. One of them came from the American sitcom, A Different World, the late 80s’ Cosby Show spinoff. In one episode (29 October 1992; see it here), main characters Whitley (spoiled rich girl) and her husband Dwayne (hard-working, bright Cosby scion) get robbed. All that’s left in Whitley’s designer clothes closet is wire hangers. “I hate wire hangers!” she shrieks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Virtual Slavery

Opiate of the masses: in 2012, gaming was worth USD$9.7 billion in China. Image Source: Dvice.

You don't need big bad government and corporate conspiracies to subjugate people in the days of the coming Singularity. All you have to do is hop online and look around. I noticed the advent of virtual serfdom a few years ago, when an eminent professor for whom I worked had one secretary whose main job was simply to answer his e-mails. People with real power do not go online and waste countless hours of their lives in virtual worlds. They hire others to waste their lives for them. Think of all the hours you have spent online since 1995. Undoubtedly some of it was productive - and creative - in online environments. But what about the time that wasn't? What could human beings have accomplished in the real world in the past fifteen odd years if many of them had not been plugged into the drug of the Millennium? Yes, we get a great deal out of the Internet and can communicate and socialize in ways never before imagined. But the next time you relax into the warm fuzzy cyber embrace of the Internet, ask yourself: to whom am I giving up my freedom, and for what reward?