Archive for January 11th, 2010
The actor Dan Blocker, who played Hoss on the old television show Bonanza, suffered through an incident once that is by turns charming and chilling. He was at a public event, signing autographs, when an older lady came up to him and started complaining that the cook on the Ponderosa, Hop Sing, wasn’t feeding them right.
“When you get back there,” she insisted, “you tell you pa that you need to get someone who knows how to cook good American food, feed you all properly.”
Blocker, who by all accounts was the epitome of a gentleman, explained to her after a couple of minutes of this that there was no Ponderosa, that Bonanza was a tv show—fiction—and that he was just an actor playing a part.
“Yes, yes,” she said impatiently, “I know that. But really you must tell Ben to fire that Chinaman and get a real cook before all you boys dry up and blow away.”
She was absolutely convinced of the reality of the Cartwrights, the “fact” of the Ponderosa, and the need to be concerned on their behalf, as if the events on the show were somehow as real as anything she encountered in her daily life.
Charming, yes, but chilling in the respect of encountering a rock hard, immovable assertion of the reality of something fabricated. Made up.
One can dance around this in a variety of ways, philosophically speaking. As a writer of fiction I object when critics assert that what I do is tell lies for a living. “What you create is not true.” In one sense, I must agree completely. The events I depict in my stories have never, nor will likely ever, “happen” in so-called “real life.” But there is another level in which the “fact” of the story is itself a reality—the story exists, the events depicted have an effect in the reader’s imagination, there is no contravention of consensual reality in the sense that the story replaces the actual world, and yet there is a substance to them (if I’ve done my job well enough) that is not so easily dismissed as a lie. On yet another level, the question of truth comes into it in regards to the felicity of the essence of the story to what we might recognize as truthful observations, mainly about the human condition. A piece of fiction can tell a truth—in fact, good fiction does exactly this by examining human nature under conditions where a revelation about how people are takes place. We find ourselves responding to characters, in the course of reading fiction, as if they were, in some sense, real.
This is what Art does. It reveals truth.
[more, including several videos . . . ]
The largest telephone and cable companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of a level playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those of big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road. As you would expect, they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk. Independent voices and political groups are especially vulnerable. Political organizing could be slowed by the handful of dominant Internet providers that ask advocacy groups or candidates to pay to join the “fast lane.”
We need to make Net Neutrality the law of the land to ensure that all networks are open and free from discrimination. That’s why the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458) (introduced by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)) is so important. Take action today to pass this bill and to make Net Neutrality the law. This is not a bill you should fear. It is a 13-page bill written in plain English and it will protect your rights. No need to trust me on the interpretation of this bill. Take ten minutes and read the entire bill yourself. It is loaded with protections for all of us who believe in the freedom to use the Internet without interference by a telephone or cable company.
It’s time to tell the telecoms that they shall not be the Internet gate-keepers. You can do this by signing the SavetheInternet.com petition. Tell Congress to pass Net Neutrality legislation today. Here are the FAQs regarding net neutrality. More than 1.6 million people have already called for Congress and the FCC to support Net Neutrality. It takes only a couple minutes to add your voice too. You’ll be part of the team that is about to send a resounding message that Washington won’t be able to ignore.
Chris Hedges pulls no punches at Truthdig when he discusses what’s wrong with Wall Street banks:
These deeply stunted and maladjusted individuals, from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Robert Rubin to Lawrence Summers to the heads of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America, hold the fate of the nation in their hands. They have access to trillions of taxpayer dollars and are looting the U.S. Treasury to sustain reckless speculation. The financial and corporate system alone validates them. It defines them. It must be served. This is why e-mails from the New York Fed to AIG, telling the bailed-out insurer not to make public the overpaying of Wall Street firms with taxpayer money, were sent when Geithner was in charge of the government agency. These criminals sold the public investments they knew to be trash. They used campaign contributions and lobbyists to turn elected officials into stooges and gut oversight and regulation. They took over retirement savings and pensions and wiped them out. And then they seized some $13 trillion in taxpayer money so they could lend it to us with interest. It is circular theft. This is why we will endure another catastrophic financial collapse. This is why firms like Goldman Sachs are more dangerous to the nation than al-Qaida.
These corporations don’t make anything. They don’t produce anything. They gamble and bet and speculate. And when they lose vast sums they raid the U.S. Treasury so they can go back and do it again. . . . The foundation has not changed. The regulations are bullshit. The old assets are still crap.
Why does any of this matter? Because dollars are fungible, and so are tax dollars. They are not pre-marked for specific uses such as paying someone tens of millions of dollars in a “bonus” that is unwittingly financed by taxpayers. Those dollars that are being wasted on Wall Street banks could be going to critically important purposes, such as developing new methods of producing energy, researching new medicines, retraining workers. Or they could be providing better nutrition to people in need, including children. Of course, those dollars would be better used than they are currently being used even if they merely remained in the possession of the workers who earned them, rather than taxing those workers and then handing those dollars to too-big-to-fail banks.