Friday, May 24, 2024

The Dizzinformation Age

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device

"Progress was alright. Only it went on too long." -James Thurber

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I'm still in the South of France, still thinking about making a pilgrimage to the Louvre, and still recycling old columns — which was supposed to be easy but which once again has resulted in a major rewrite.

On impulse, I went rooting through old columns to discover the story behind my favorite word invention, dizzinformation. I went a-googlin' to see if it had gone viral while I wasn't paying attention. No such luck.

Dizzinformation. Perfect. It seems so obvious in retrospect. Like one of those commercials for a product someone thought up that instantly provokes a Now why didn't I think of that?! — response.

See, I've been in search of this word for a while now, and I was stuck on disinformation, which just doesn't do it. We're told, and I agree, that this is the Information Age and that this is a RBFD (real big, um, feckin' deal). It's on par with the industrial revolution, the invention of the printing press, agriculture, that sort of thing. World-changing stuff.

[Speaking of dizzinformation/too much information I'll bet you've never heard of an interrobang, a character I've recently encountered that combines a question mark with an exclamation point I immediately pictured a much younger version of myself approaching a fellow H. sapien female who self-identifies as a cisgender straight or bisexual individual and asking her if she has ever heard of... Never mind.]

The Information Age has two huge, honkin' downsides — information overload and contradictory information. 

I spent months trying to think of just the right word, or invent one, that captures that no matter how hard I try to swim to shore I never seem to be able to get out of the Dizzinformation Ocean feeling.

Wouldn't it be nice to lay on the beach for a while? Better yet, stretch out on a lounge chair of some sort, with a cupholder, sipping from a tall glass of certainty/purpose/direction?

{What's wrong with misinformation?}

Misinformation, to me at least, just means incorrect information, information that was thought to be correct but turns out not to be.  

Dizzinformation is a new study by a reputable this, that, or the other that sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder and says wait just a second there sir/ma'am/other while you're busy multitasking your bum off, i.e. just trying to get through another day in the Dizzinformation Age.

For example, you're watching the local news and they do a story about eggs; eggs may not be as bad for you as you were led to believe. 

You love eggs! You could eat eggs every day and never get tired of them! 

You go a-googlin' because you want to know just how many eggs you can safely eat on a daily/weekly basis. Answer? I'll spare you any links to follow as I'll wager you already know what will happen, you'll get every answer from none at all to feel free to eat as many Paul Newman's character did in the movie Cool Hand Luke.

 {Wait-wait-wait. What about disinformation? Or is that the same thing as misinformation?

As it happens, Dana, I checked into this. According to Wikipedia "Misinformation is incorrect or misleading information. Misinformation can exist without specific malicious intent; disinformation is distinct in that it is deliberately deceptive and propagated." My emphasises.

I agree, but neither word comes close to describing what I'm talking about. The phrase too much information points you in the right direction but dizzinformation — dazed and confused by too much information — is perfect. 

The DSM-5-TR ("...the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders.") defines dizzinformation syndrome as, simply, dizzy from too much information: correct, incorrect, or, worst of all, contradictory.

{No it doesn't!}

Well, it should. It's not primarily because there's so much information, there's always been a lot of it. It's because it's so easily accessible via the worldwide web of contradictory knowledge (WWCK).

{AI is going to fix that... You keep pushing this WWCK thing, what's up with that?}

I wanna go viral, just once, before I die. Dizzinformation didn't do it back in 2016, maybe WWCK will in 2024. And for the record, AI is not going to fix that. AI can punt (as it does now) and tell you that there are contradictory answers to your question, which effectively renders it useless as a search tool in my opinion.

Alternatively, it will make it possible for someone who has the kind of power China's current emperor has to return government-approved answers and many of our tech overlords will be happy to help if it adds to their bottom line (or promotes their ideology) as they do now. 

It's only been about 50 years since...

{Fifty years is a looong time.}

Almost everyone who's been walking around the block for fifty years or more will tend to disagree.  

It's taken about 50 years to go from environmentally controlled computer rooms, staffed with clipboard-carrying people in crisp, white lab coats, to the smartphone in your pocket that can access more information than you could ever possibly consume in multiple lifetimes. 

And the Dizzinformation Age 
Is still 
In its infancy. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Friday, May 17, 2024

Abortion and Minority Rule

 Greetings and Salutations From France! 
Image by Thomas Staub from Pixabay

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device

"There are no solutions, only trade-offs." -Dr. Thomas Sowell

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

Yes, I'm still here, In France I mean. Please see the intro to this column if you're unaware as to the how/why I'm spending the month of May here. 

Collette and I are thinking about overnighting in Paris next week because I'd really like to visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (among other things) but she's trying to talk me out of it; I guess it can get a bit crowded. I'll let you know if we went and how it went. 

Turns out you can arrange early morning private tours before the museum opens. I went a-googlin' and discovered this service is provided by a bunch of privately owned firms and that all sorts of options are available.

The average price is about $250 per adult. A bit pricy but that's for 2-3 hours, and it includes admission.

{A bit pricey?}  

Have you ever been to one of the Disney theme parks, Dana? Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

I have the pallet of an American little boy... Well, an American little boy born in the 1950s, the Stickies are now all at least 18 and eat all sorts of sophisticated stuff that my parents, and most of their contemporaries, had never even heard of. 

I'll wager there's no shortage of my fellow American old cranks who fear traveling to Europe for fear of the food. 

However, I had heard that McDonald's can be found everywhere in Europe. I verified this before I left and it turns out France has the most. Who would've guessed? No wonder they love Americans so much.

“Lafayette, we are here!” -Colonel Charles Stanton (not General Pershing).

{I heard they serve breaded deep-fried snail tenders...but what's any of this got to do with abortion, and/or minority rule?}

Nothing really, Dana, this is me avoiding the subject by doing what I'm famous for, entertaining my hordes of readers via the wit and wisdom of a garrulous geezer. 

I have only one thing in common with the late, great Isac Asimov, I often think with my fingers. Sometimes, often actually, I have to wait for my muse to reveal what I should write. You'll no doubt be relieved to know I've figured it out.  

As I explained in my first summer rerun column, I thought I could republish some old columns with minimal editing while on vacation but my writing style, some quoted statistics, and some of my opinions have shifted anywhere from a little to a lot.

That column required massive rewriting, but this week's column was supposed to be a piece of croissant. The first time I wrote about abortion, in 2015, I came down decisively on neither side of this never-ending debate. I still feel the same way. 

How about a compromise wherein neither side gets what they want? Permit me to sum up my position and move on to what's really bothering me. 

{We can't wait!}

What if abortion was banned, everywhere, with or without common sense exceptions (incest, rape, or likely death of the woman involved immediately spring to mind), would there be no more abortions? 

Obviously not. A rich and well-connected woman would still be able to get one in relative comfort and safety. Anyone else who thought they had a compelling reason to seek an abortion would be forced to take the "back alley" route and no shortage of women would be killed or physically/emotionally damaged. 

So what if there were no restrictions? It's a free country, it's your body, do what you want! 

I'm not going to go looking for statistics as I can confidently state two things. First, nearly all of even the most radical pro-choice advocates are revolted by the idea of aborting a viable baby no matter what they say. 

Second, there's a tiny minority that are comfortable with absolutely no restrictions right up to and including infanticide and if you don't understand why they should be denied this right I have nothing to say to you that's going to make a difference. 

I have kept an eye on the relevant polling before and since I first wrote about abortion and the results have been consistent. 

Gallup, 7 July 2023 (that's how we say the date on the Continent):

"When asked about the legality of abortion at different stages of pregnancy, about two-thirds of Americans say it should be legal in the first trimester (69%)...the majority oppose laws that would “ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected [about 6 weeks]...63% favor allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be available in the U.S. as a prescription drug." (My emphasises.) 

So what's the problem? This is a democratic republic so I'm sure Congress will write some sort of clearly worded law to put an end to this, compromise on the details, and tell the extremists on both sides to go pound sand so we can concentrate on worrying about AI and robots destroying everyone's job. 

{Sarcasm isn't always appropriate.}

Wait, I've got an idea! What if we relitigate the issue? Maybe the Supremes will decide that since there's nothing in the Constitution to base a decision on, the individual states should decide?      

{More sarcasm? Seriously dude? About such an important issue? I suppose now we're going to be subjected to what's "really" bothering you.}

You betcha. 

The Founding Pasty Patriarchs were well aware of an ever-looming danger of democracy, a tyranny of the majority. That is to say, what if 51% of us agree that killing the other 49% of us would be best for all involved.

{That's a goofy, vast oversimplification of the subject!"}

"Hyperbole in the defense of a valid point is no vice!" -me  

Anyway, Socrates, murdered by his fellow citizens in the city often credited with inventing and implementing a democratic system of government might disagree. 

America is a democratic republic. The Founding Pasty Patriarchs, aware of the potential downsides of democracy, set up a system in which we choose which weasels we want to represent us in the Swamp so that we can devote our time and energy to important things like making a living, and making and trading Taylor Swift friendship bracelets. 

Unfortunately, they had no way of knowing how effectively relatively tiny minorities would eventually be able to easily mess with majorities thanks to the onset of the Dizzinromation Age and the rapid subsequent spread of the WWCK (worldwide web of contradictory knowledge). 

We're at the mercy of motivated minorities cheered on by a rabid media that actively/deliberately promotes controversy to keep the money flowing.

No form of democracy can survive without rational compromise. 
Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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I post links to my columns (and other stuff) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publicly flogged.  

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Summer Reruns Continue

This weekly column consists of letters written to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now and haunt them after I'm deleted.

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC-65: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring {Dana}Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Babies don't need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach...I'll go over to a little baby and say 'What are you doing here? You haven't worked a day in your life!'" -Steven Wright

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders), 

Yup, I'm still on vacation in the South of France. If you're unaware of how this came about last week's column explains all. 

I'm embarrassed to say that I fell asleep on the beach at Village Naturiste Oasis Village while Collette was shopping and I'm so badly sunburned that I can hardly move. However, I was able to dictate this explanation and instruct her on how to post what follows below. 

I've recently been made aware that many of my gentlereaders see no reason to click on the link that is the closing of my weekly letter, having done so years ago, and which, by the way, is based on an old column written when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and has been tweaked just a bit.  

Also, believe it or not, I have fans who read my column via the dead trees format who have likely never had a chance to discover the origin of "have an OK day." 

Given all that, this week's summer rerun is what gentlereaders encounter if they follow the link in question. I'm feeling better and promise that next week's rerun will be a rewritten, full-fledged column originally published in 2015 about an issue that never seems to go away. 

When I'm king of the forrrest, the insipid phrase have a nice day will officially be changed to have an OK day. Hang in there will also be acceptable. Life is sometimes brutal, sometimes nice, but mostly, it's just SBDD (same bonkercockie, different day). So, Mark, how was your day? Well, some of it was nice, some of it was brutal, mostly it was somewhere in between. It was OK. I didn't win the lottery, but I wasn't tortured and killed. I hung in there.

"Have a nice day!," saith the fast-food worker as she shoves the bag containing my (often jacked up) order in my general direction while not making eye contact because her focus has already shifted to the next customer and she's hoping to get the drive-thru window closed before I ask for salt, a bunch of it. 

I always ask for a bunch, so that if I get lucky, I may get two or even three packets instead of one (or none) before she snatches her hand away and the window slides shut. Now, if I'm in a reckless mood, or I'm feeling annoyed because I've tapped on the window and received a what are you still doing here glare before she reluctantly slides the window back open I may exercise the nuclear option. 

As she reluctantly hands me my salt packets (apparently salt volume is the key determinant of profit or loss in the fast-food industry) I'll call up the warmest smile I can muster and say, "I'm sorry, may I have a few more, please? I define food as a salt delivery mechanism" in a charmingly self-effacing tone. I've even been known to chuckle. From the look on her face, I'd have to say that having to hand me salt (again!) has ruined her perfectly nice day.  

This is the second most effective way I know of to gently remind a fast-food employee associate (though chances are it will, at best, be a subliminal reminder) that there's a customer – the source of all revenue – right here, right now, and in spite of the odds, seeking satisfaction. 

Sometimes, you have to look for it, you'll get an almost startled reaction. Wow, it's one of those sources of all revenue! I've heard stories, but I never thought I'd actually have to do more than toss the bag and chirp, Have a nice day!  

I know, I know, she works hard for the money and is definitely not being overpaid. I have a similar problem. However, no customers = no pay. If you want me to have a nice day, gimmesumsalt, and don't jack up my order. Say thank you and I'll dance at your wedding (or divorce). 

What's the number one most effective way to gently nudge an FFA (fast food associate) onto the same level of reality as oneself? Order a sundae, and ask them to make it with half strawberry and half chocolate syrup. Awkward pause. But...but there's no button for that! Hilarity ensues. You may get to meet the manager on duty.

Now, if I manage to get more than one salt packet, with a minimum of hassle, this will indeed be, at the very least, a nice moment. If I get a thank you for giving up some of my hard-earned money I'll know it's a sign from God and buy some scratch-off lottery tickets. Maybe I'll win big... wouldn't that be a nice day? 

Alternatively, it could turn ugly and snowball downhill into a brutal day via not enough salt, a jacked-up order, flat soda pop, stale buns, fries that have cooled off and reverted to their natural state (plastic), etc. And, of course, having to deal with me could nudge her day in a brutal direction.

The point is that Destiny (we've become close) and I have fairly limited control over who or what wanders into our personal reality zones and sparks a nice or brutal moment or day. Also, nice or brutal can easily morph into their opposites. 

If I win big in the lottery it might ultimately result in my degeneration into a perverted libertine and slobbering drug addict, which would be (mostly) a bad thing. If I were to be kidnaped by ISIS operatives and tortured for information because they've mistaken me for the head of the drone pilot training program but I was rescued by Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his team, that would be a nice thing and me and my work might go viral.

{Gibbs is gone.}

In theory, but I recently checked in for the first time in years, and even though only two of the main characters are there it's the same show over and over and...

However, Destiny and I (who, for the record, is 76, and will be introducing me to her friends and parents when we go mall walking tomorrow), having rejected society's misguided embrace of the meaningless nice day concept, choose to embrace having an OK day, and hope you do as well. 

Brutal days are going to happen to you despite lucky charms, prayers, and positive affirmations. Nice days are going to happen to you despite curses, your boss, or The Fedrl Gummit. No matter what happens it could always be worse, and it might even get better. But there's only so much you can do about it, so why not split the difference and strive for an OK day? OK blunts the brutal and nurtures the nice.

On a personal note, Destiny and I have decided to get married, probably in June of 2025. All of my readers are invited but please RSVP and be aware that no one will be admitted without a gift. Hang in there.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down if you wish to share my work or access my golden oldies.   

I post links to my columns (and other stuff) on Facebook so that you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me publicly flogged.