Thoughts on the Effects that Media and the Internet have on today’s Culture

 

Gray Matter of the Modern Brain overloaded on technology

Gray Matter of the Modern Brain overloaded on technology

Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web.  The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.

  1. William Sikes, the author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the Internet, and depending on cell phones daily. He posits or contends this dependence on technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and creates a lazy society. Based on research, determine if this argument has merit.

 

Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement  has merit, two books, numerous  articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY[1]

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning  is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).

Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36).  Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).

Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse effect on social interaction, communication  and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail.  In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.

Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.

Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and Myspace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)

“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).

The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative.  Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together.  Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well.  1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences.  2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).

Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways.  The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.

Bibliography

Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W.    Norton & Company, Inc.

Daniel G. Amen, M. (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

General, O. o. (2008). Parents and Caregivers Checklist. http://surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html . Washington D.C., USA: US Department of Health & Human Services.

Jeske, M. (2008, Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA: 2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.

Patokorpi, E. (2007). Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University, Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology & Society Peer Reviewed Journal.

Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.

Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term Paper, ENG 350.

Richard Campbell, C. R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston, New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Snyder, L. (2007). Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA: Addison Wesley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda

“Ass in the chair is the only rule of art.” Donald Murray

Ernest Hemingway and Donald Murray

What I continue to learn! Why I am inspired by these giants of writing.
I have experienced 6 weeks of Monday night classes at Donald Murray’s home in Durham. I sat in as a want to be writer with writers of varied experience in his living room. I worked on a Friday night deadline for 6 weeks and held to it. The secret Don said was to write. He did not believe in writers block. He said to start with a word and go from there.

I have experienced 7 weeks of a class: Ernest Heming way: The Paris Years. It has been an ever changing and interesting experience. I only knew of Hemingway from his book The Old Man and the Sea and the short stories The Hills of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. I was amazed and inspired by all three works.

So I have gone from The Paris Years to the Portsmouth Ideas and enjoyed the ride. As Sir Robert said on the first night of class, that it is ‘’Like a river ever flowing, ever changing.” I have discovered that the more I read of EH and DM the faster the river flows, quickening the pace of change. There is so much to learn so much to mine for the craft of writing.
Mr. Wheeler also quoted Donald Murray, “I have to fight the tendency to think I know the subject I teach.” Ernest and Donald were now forever intertwined in supplying inspiration after that first night of class. I left that night enthused and looking forward to my readings and the next class.
I read of generations passing and searching for meaning in “The Sun Also Rises” and immediately realized a connection between EH and DM. They were both great observers of what is happening all around them. Murray had said in class that to be a writer one must see what others do not and craft a way to let them see what they missed.
I learned that there have been countless biographies on EH since his untimely 1961 death and that as a Journalist, Travel Writer, Short Story Writer and Writer of novels that he had squirreled away lots of writing. He did this despite being a womanizer, a drinker, a sportsman and a husband and father.

As a Journalist Hemingway covered stories for the Kansas City Star and then as an expatriate freelance writer covering post war Europe. I found that he learned valuable lessons there about writing in a concise manner. From the 1954 book, The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway the Early Years by Charles A. Fenton much was gleaned. Ernest Hemingway was a working newspaperman both intermittently and for long intervals during the years Oct. 1916 and Dec. 1923. Other influences were War, Travel, and Sport. His work habits were extensive, sustained and purposeful. He wrote expatriate fiction in 1922-3. In a very real sense his apprenticeship never ended. Hemingway had durability, he was demanding, always growing and had rigid discipline when it came to writing. He said to a friend in 1949, “I’m apprenticed out at it until I die. Dopes can say you mastered it. But I don’t know nobody ever mastered it, nor could not have done better.” [At it]
Hemingway only worked at the Kansas City Star for 7 months but the rules from the papers style sheet book had 110 rules which stayed with him for live. Language and words could never from this point be lightly regarded (pg. 32). In 1940 Hemingway said, “I’ve never forgotten them, no man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them (pg. 34). Some rules were simple; like never use old slang, avoid use of adjectives, and use short sentences. The only way to improve your writing is to write. The English language yields to simplicity through brevity (pg. 43). Charles Fenton an English Instructor at Yale said, “It wasn’t the literary hothouse of Paris in the 20’s that shaped Hemingway so much as fledgling High school journalism in Oak Park, Ill. and the newsrooms of Kansas City and Toronto.”
Journalism was writing for the moment; as such it was doomed to the death of topicality but the fiction writer by adding invention to experience gave his work the possibility of enduring life. Hemingway granted that it was okay to begin in journalism because it lumbers you up and gives you a command of the language, it was good practice. [Read Paragraphs pg. 232 and 225]

Notes:
Hemingway peaked early, burned out early, copped out and exited early missing a head, yet left a body of work. He lived his time fully but not a full life because you must finish the journey and he up and quit. He left a mess for others to decipher. He was another casualty of another lost and searching generation.
“Old’ man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you. I need someone to love me the whole day thru. Ah! One look at my eyes and you can tell that’s true” (Neil Young). I am not Hemingway but I do write. I am only alive because I put up a fight to survive. I mine for the words and a heart of gold. Pray I do not lose the spontaneity. Did EH become so tough because his name was Ernest or because he was? EH and DM were both bears of a man. Their paths may have crossed. DM knew of EH’s work and work habits and quoted them in his writing notes. DM went out with his writing boots on dying a day after submitting his last column for the Boston Globe. EH left us too early after burning out. Both lived full and humanly complete lives of observing and learning and writing it all out. Each part of the story gleaned from focused observation and from attempts at learning lessons. The jumbled beginnings of a journey jotted down from viewing another lost generation. From Donald Murray, “Ass in the Chair is the only rule of Art.”

Works Referenced:
(Weber) (Fenton) (Phillips) (Murray)
Fenton, Charles A. The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway-the Early Years. NY: Viking Press, 1954.
Murray, Donald M. Welcolm to the Writer’s Craft. Writing Guide. Durham, NH: Donald M Murray, 2006.
Phillips, Larry W. Ernest Hemingway on Writing. NY: Scribner, 1984, 2004.
Weber, Ronald. Hemingway’s Art of Non-Fiction. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Daily Prompt: Back to School , A post to the SNHU school newspaper

In 2008 I returned to University and majored in English Language and Creative Writing. I joined the school newspaper (the old elephant in the room.) This is one of my posts published in the newspaper.

Pothier_Creative_Story-telling Dream Free write

Ken Pothier_11/26/2009

A Story-telling Dream

I had a storytelling dream. In it I was camping on mother earth with father sky above me. Alone, but for the spirit of the ancestors surrounding me North, South, East, West, Above and Below. Felt in the knowledge and magic of medicine animals. I wanted to write, but there wasn’t a way. I was consumed with the need to get my feelings and observations recorded, to tell a story.
I then proceeded to observe, read, feel all of the great spirit in nature around me. Dusk came over the dream and I could not record what was felt in the subtle and palpable lessons of the land. I spent last light organizing the campsite getting ready for the night.

Alone, but for want of a way to write,
But for want of a fire to light,
But for want of a means to share,
It could have been a good dream.

I awoke with longing and frustration in my being. In a life tinged with sorrow I could not shake the feeling of the dream.
If I could not write:
I could live with it, carry it, carry on, and not put the heavy load of feeling down.
I could make a blanket of my tears for they roll down and carry salt of the earth.
I could leave signs, in the bank of streams and water’s edge of lake and ocean, where waves of wind, water, and time could wear them away.
I could etch my life sketch in stone, but there is too much to say, and words alone would consume the day.
I could read signs of nature and learn to live in wilderness on my own.
I could watch the seasons pass never knowing when it’s my last.
Could I not write?
Feelings, emotion, experience, knowledge, and lessons learned, would stay lost in time.
Though experienced and felt, never seen, not thought out, and only mine.
Dark and lost in shadow, never letting in the light of memory and time perspective,
Never leaving a clue to how I found my way as pathfinder.

Out on the lake appeared a lone snowmobiler, having a day with some time and a fresh coat of snow to play on. He circled the lake in an outline of the shore. Curved in at coves around the circumference and out where the land reaches to meet the snow covered ice.
A sixty acre oval repeated counterclockwise over and over and over, until it began to look like the concentric rings in the wood of a tree.
Carefully the task was completed, parallel journeys in time, close but never the same, he marked his time on the lake while I fashioned a dreamed story.

One man found a good rhythm in space and time, and beat out a path for all to see, until waves of wind, warmth, water, and time slowly take it all away.
Could I not write…? The day would be held only in memories, of the one who felt it, of the one who observed, and gone forever as they fade away.

Could I be a storyteller…?
Last light of sun’s rays break the clouds, and spotlight one man’s circles of time in motion…
As a work of art, in a rhyme of time, space, light, and words.

Dreams and signs can show the way…
See them, feel them, and own them-live as a warrior, storyteller, and pathfinder.
Tell the tales…etched in time…Hanta Yo…Go Forward…

© Ken Pothier

### 593 words

Communications 126–Media and Culture

English: A child not paying attention in class.

English: A child not paying attention in class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World wide web

World wide web (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Communications 126-Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web.  The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.

  1. William Sikes, the      author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study      indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the      Internet, and depending on cell phones daily.  He posits or contends this dependence on      technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and      creates a lazy society.  Based on      research, determine if this argument has merit.

Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement  has merit, two books, numerous  articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY[1]

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning  is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).

Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36).  Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).

Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse affect on social interaction, communication  and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail.  In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.

Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.

Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and MySpace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)

“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).

The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative.  Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together.  Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well.  1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences.  2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).

Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways.  The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.

Bibliography

Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World,   From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W.    Norton & Company, Inc.

Daniel G. Amen, M.   (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown   Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

General, O. o.   (2008). Parents and Caregivers Checklist. http://surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html   . Washington D.C., USA: US Department of Health & Human Services.

Jeske, M. (2008,   Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA:   2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.

Patokorpi, E. (2007).   Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational   Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University,   Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology &   Society Peer Reviewed Journal.

Pothier, K. (2008,   Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information   technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.

Pothier, K. (2008,   Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term   Paper, ENG 350.

Richard Campbell, C.   R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston,   New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Snyder, L. (2007).   Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA:   Addison Wesley.


[1] Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda

Memorial to Donald Murray with Poems: His Time Was Write and Hard Wood Writing

Never a Day Without a Line
When a mentor passes on–A Memorial to Donald Murray

I heard it on the 11 o’clock New Years Day news. Donald Murray died of a heart attack at the age of 82. He had submitted his column ‘Now and Then’ to the Boston Globe the day before he died. He never stopped working, learning or sharing the knowledge he had gained.

My connection to Donald started from a Now and Then column that he had written in late winter which mentioned a spring writing class and one of his favorite bookstores on Water Street in Exeter NH. A heartfelt feeling took me there and I bought the book he suggested and left my information. Fortune smiled and on a Monday nights for six weeks I found myself at Don’s house in Durham with a circle of writers and novices of the craft. Don in his chair teaching by drawing us in and sharing his life and the work he loves. A large man in both stature and heart held court as we listened and learned in a circle where he made us feel equal. No pretense, just the spirit of a man open and true. His words ring true in my head: ‘Find your voice and tune it to the situation’
‘Writing is personal-be as true as possible’
‘The voice must sound like you, if not something is wrong-you may not be close enough to the material’
‘I still sometimes look at the world as a soldier’
‘Write with velocity and lower your standards’
‘Good writers see deep important things about the human condition. They articulate the human condition for those who can not’
‘Surprise is wonderful, I want to surprise myself some more before the road ends’

I met with him three times after the class ended. Twice for breakfast at ‘Young’s’ in Durham where everyone knows his name. The morning after class ended I picked him up at 5:45 AM. He told me he had stayed up all night as enthusiasm about the class, father’s day trip weekend prior, writing, and using his new art supplies would not let him sleep. He insisted on paying for breakfast and said that my turn was next. As I dropped him off at his house and told him to get some rest he answered, ‘after I write a little’. 82 years old, up all night and his motto, ‘nulla dies sine linea’ and work ethic still ruled.
For me he is gone too soon, too fast but he will always be with me. It’s his turn again to buy breakfast and he promised to come for dinner and meet my ‘Maria May.’
He believed in his family, his students, his friends and his colleagues. He gave us a confidence devoid of judgments that we could find our voice and tune it to the situation.
I offer a poem written with Donald in mind and submitted during what would be his last class. He had taken up drawing and painting recently for the sheer joy and surprise of it. The last line was added today.

Hard Wood Writing

Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then

His time was write

Found a mentor, ol’ sage, life almost spent

He opened his home, gave a last class

Unconditionally he let us in and shared a successful career

“Write Short, Write Quick,” the mentor said.

The world has changed–attention spans are short sighted

Draw them in, hold them, set them free, with words from the heart

An old man’s spirit shared

His time was write

Now and Then taught me ours is then and now

The road goes on and I will be one of Donald’s Acolytes–Apostles

Nulla dies sine linea–never a day without a line

Share a life til the road ends

To be taken up by a spirit who’s time is write

Copyright by Ken Pothier

Language and Indigenous Peoples

Language and Indigenous Peoples
Native American Culture and the history of the first human beings to populate the America’s have always fascinated me. The book Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill took me into a world and let me live there in a spiritual journey which continues today. The main connection for me was the courage and altruism of the people living with and as part of the nature of the places they lived. A quote from the introduction follows, “The American Indian, even before Columbus, was the remnant of a very old race in its final stage, a race that had attained perhaps the highest working concept of individualism ever practiced. Neither the word ‘free’ nor any corresponding term occurs in the root language, in the primal concept: there never was anything for the Indian to free himself from. His was the spirit not seeking truth but holding on to truth. And his was the mind nourished on choice. Whatever he needed to know, nature sooner or later revealed to him. And that which he desired to know—the best way to achieve his maximum spiritual potential—was the only mystery he chose to investigate.”
I believe Hanta Yo means ‘Go forward’ in Dakota. Dakota is the name of the allied ones, the true name of the Sioux Tribe. “Linguists know that the; unique qualities of a particular language reflect the characteristics of its place of origin and the cultural context of the people who speak it” Nancy Lord goes on to say, “Languages…belong to environments in the same way that living creatures do, shaped by and shaping the places that spawn them, both in the words needed to identify and address the particulars of those places and in the structures needed to survive in them.” (pg 481) Often single words are used for phrases, descriptions and identification of the natural environment around the indigenous peoples.
Immigrants may have destroyed the way of life described but they adopted words and place names from the language of the Native Americans. Last year I attended a Pow Wow run by the Abernakis at the Mi Te Jo campground in Milton NH. The dancing and drumming tell stories which keep the culture alive. Native Americans culture is a language and includes music, dance, story-telling and art that are all part of the whole. Words for them are both mysterious and powerful.
It is sad that so many of the languages have been lost to time for a rich and wonderful history of the free and spiritual lives they led is also lost. The emphasis on nature is coming back and with the demise of our planet many are realizing the wisdom in the Native American way of life. I started a Database for this short paper which portrays how the natural environment was of great importance in words adopted and the meanings which described the nature of place. I will also bring in Art purchased at the Pow Wow and show how Art for them is also language.
Native American Language Influence
ID Tribe or Region Word or Place- Name-Definition- Remarks
5 Chippewa- hominy
6 Manhattan-papoose
7 Podunk- samp
8 Podunk- squash
9 Podunk- wampum
10 Eastern Tribes- caribou- Entered through Canadian French
11 Eastern Tribes- mackinaw-
12 Eastern Tribes- pone-
13 Eastern Tribes- Tammany- Entered through Canadian French
14 Eastern Tribes- terrapin-
15 Eastern Tribes- toboggan- Algonquin Tribe
16 West Indies- barbeque- Entered through Spanish
17 West Indies- canoe- Entered through Spanish
18 West Indies- cushaw- Entered through Spanish
19 Nahuat-Mexico- anaqua- Texas knock away tree
20 Nahuat-Mexico- coyote-
21 Nahuat-Mexico- peyote–
22 Choctaw- bayuk creek- Blend: Bayou w F de la Batre=creek of the artillary
23 Dakota- Minneapolis- minne=water+city=water city– Blend: with G/E (a)polis=city
24 Alabama- Alabama- state-tribal subdivision of the Creek Confederacy Indian loan of place name
25 Dakota- Minnesota- minne=water+sota=white, sky tinted or cloudy- Indian loan of place name
26 Dakota- Dakota- states- based on their word for friends or allies Indian loan of place name
27 Iroquois- Canada- from Kanata=settlement- Named by Jacques Cartier
28 Wakashan- potlach- feast-
29 Algonquin- hickory
30 Algonquin- chipmunk
31 Algonquin- caucus
32 Arawakan- Caribbean – sea and islands N. S. America throughout the Caribbean
33 Arawakan- hurricane
34 Arawakan- cannibal
35 Eastern Tribes- Massachusetts- state-from tribal name meaning large hill place- Indian loan of place name
36 Mohican- Connecticut- state &river from word for the long river- Indian loan of place name
37 Iroquois- Kentucky- from Kentahten meaning land of tomorrow- Indian loan of place name
38 Cherokee- Tennessee- from tanasi the name of a Cherokee village- Indian loan of place name
39 Algonquian- Mississippi- state &river from words meaning big river- Indian loan of place name
40 Ugakhpa/Quapaw- Arkansas- state-from word meaning downstream people- Indian loan of place name
41 Choctaw- Oklahoma- state-from words meaning red people- Indian loan of place name
42 Caddo &Allies- Texas- state-from word meaning friend or ally- Indian loan of place name
43 Iroquois- Ohio- state-from word meaning beautiful or beautiful river- Indian loan of place name
44 Chippewa- Michigan- state&lake-from word meaning great lake- Indian loan of place name
45 Iroquois- Lake Ontario- from word meaning sparkling or beautiful water- Indian loan of place name
46 Iroquois- Lake Erie- from word for long tail in referenc to the wildcat- Indian loan of place name
47 Chippewa- Wisconsin- state-gathering of the waters or grassy place- Indian loan of place name
48 Otoe or Omaha- Nebraska- state-flat or spreading water, ref. to Platte River- Indian loan of place name
49 Iowa– Iowa- state-from tribal land and river meaning beautiful land or sleepy ones- Indian loan of place name
50 Southwest Missouri- state&river-from tribal name meaning those with dugout canoes- Indian loan of place name
51 Sioux Kansas- state-tribe meaning people of the south wind- Indian loan of place name
52 Delaware Wyoming- state-from word meaning upon the great plain or large meadow- Indian loan of place name
53 Pima Arizona- state-from word meaning little spring placep Indian loan of place name
54 Ute Utah- state-from Eutaw meaning in the mountaintops or high up- Indian loan of place name

(North American Indian Culture, 2004 revised 2008)informational map from National Geographic
Edited by Clark C, E. P. (2008). Language-introductory readings. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.
Hill, R. B. (1979). Hanta Yo. NY: Warner Books with Doubleday & Company Inc.

The Lyrics and Lanquage of Music

  

 

 

 

Lyrics in the music of a life

“Time may heal, time may steal, time to decide and every thought of you casts its own shadow and everything I wanted is subject to review as time the conqueror closes in on a life.” Words paraphrased from the first and title song of Jackson Browne’s newest creation, Time the Conqueror[1]. Many times in my life the language of lyrics have been the music that kept me going in hard times, that helped me celebrate joys and accomplishment, that helped me lift my head when others harsh words beat me down and sucked the life out of any possibility of spontaneous action or creativity. Lyrics well written and found in a timely fashion are an unbroken thread that permeates my long and winding road in getting to this point. A time which finds me lost and searching when I should be enjoying the fruits of past labors, a time when I know exactly where I wish to go and how to get there. I find that word-processing my thoughts while listening to a brand new selection of music and lyrics from one of my favorite singer/songwriters helps heal fresh wounds and leads me back to that road I was on. Once again focus returns and creativity flows. It has always been this way for me, life and people knock you down, you listen learn and move a little to the groove and move on.

            The Language of Lyrics, lyrics to go with the music of life, a writers blues survival. Rock and roll rebellion, the angst of punk, rap, hip-hop, the grunge of rainy day alternative rock, the blues based feel of southern rock, dance, and disco, pop, folk, country, reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, the cool of jazz, international flavors and the music of cultures all carry their own language and lyrics for those who listen closely.

Inspired by returning to University, tested, enthused, pushed to creativity and thought in a natural high derived from writing odds and ends, bits and pieces of a life lived, observed. A large part of what has kept me going over the years and the tears is the music of my life pulling me along with the thread of a lyric put to soothing melody or vibrant rock beat. It has kept me sane after separation and divorce from a post traumatic, obsessive compulsive, politically correct, emotionally special needs wife, supported by me in so many ways. She abandoned and left me in the downward spiral of a parental alienation syndrome from my three girls and in an avalanche of emotional pain that I never saw coming. Naïve, I believed that truth mattered when a first, false, unnecessary and unjust restraining order was filed only to be told by two lawyers that truth has nothing to do with the law. A reprimanded judge, (Heffernan-MA) who never should have been allowed again on the bench to decide RO’s “had no choice but to extend the RO” and destroy any chance for communication and connection with my family.  My life changed forever though I had never broken the sacred trust between Man and Wife, Father and Child. Truth lost except in the words of my journals righting it out, touching truth and reality in the only ways left. Writing, listening, learning and moving on from an emotionally dead man walking to an inspired man talking, the thread played a large and critical role in my survival.

The thread began with a sleepover listening to the 45 revolution per minute records of an older friend of the family. It was a time when Elvis Presley was King, a rebellious young man from Mississippi ahead of his time, raw, energetic, an original leader of the baby boom generations search for meanings of their own. The rock n roll era began when I was young but far from rebellious, I was hooked when a muse arrived in the guise of a portable record player and two long playing records, Chubby Checker Twist and Introducing the Beatles-VJ Records. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” grasped the thread of lyrics for me and never let it go. Love Rain or Me (The Who), Let it Be (The Beatles), to Great Big Sea (Band from Newfoundland), a palpable connection in 45 flip sides, artist, producer, label, LP-long playing records, album cover art, jacket liner notes expanded my universe and pulled me beyond a household of 9 children and a High School away from my home town which I had no say in attending. It carried me to a job at 16, girls, and a 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport with slush box on the floor, bucket seats trimmed in chrome and best of all a radio with rear speaker featuring reverb. The lyrics of the thread playing in the background were touching and intertwined with first loves. I bought my first three albums with that first paycheck, The Animals-Hits, Dave Clark Five-Best of, and The Rolling Stones. The sound and lyrics of The Animals: House of the Rising Sun with Gary Burton singing blew me away in the power of a bands performance touching words.

Bruce Springsteen strengthened my lyric thread with his life and our times written out, put to music and brought to a climax in concert with the E Street Band. Jackson Browne was contributing writer on a story about Springsteen in Rolling Stone Magazine. I was overjoyed when discovering this connection between two of my top lyric writers and musicians. I have taken selective quotes from the article and cannot outdo Jackson Browne’s portrayal of feelings (shared entirely by me) about the ‘Boss.’  Bruce Springsteen is the “Embodiment of rock and roll…combining strains of Appalachian music, rockabilly, blues, and Rhythm and blues, his work epitomizes rock’s deepest values: desire, the need for freedom and the search to find yourself. All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way.”

Jackson Browne on Bruce in concert, “…He had this descriptive power—it was just an amazing display of lyrical prowess live…”“It was drama, his approach to music, something that he would expand on many times over, but it was there from the beginning.” No concert is the same. “It was obvious that they were drawing on a vocabulary. It was exhilarating, and at the bottom of it all there was all this joy and fun and a sense of brotherhood, of being outsiders who had tremendous power and a story to tell…indistinct utterances have been magnified to communicate volumes……Bruce has always had enormous range in terms of subject and emotion…He is always working on a very large scale, a scale that is nothing short of heroic. He is one of the few songwriters who work on a scale that is capable of handling the subject of our national grief and the need to find a response to September 11th.[2] His sense of music as a healing power, of band—as—church, has always been there, woven into the fabric of his songs, He’s got his feet planted on either side of that great divide between black & white gospel, between blues and country, between rebellion and redemption.” The Rising on Columbia Records was Bruce’s answer to the events of 911, a short review from RS follows, “After everything fell down on September11th, 2001, Bruce Springsteen made the rock & roll we needed most–fifteen songs about getting up again—with the greatest backing combo in the world, the E Street Band. This Reborn in the USA swings between extreme despair (“You’re Missing”) and Irish wake (“Mary’s Place”). But in the grainy force of Springsteen’s voice and the muscular exaltation of the music, the power of ordinary men and women to build a new, atop so much loss, rings loud and true.”[3] Healing power drawn from lyrical truth found in focused listening just happens when the music touches you for his is an honesty which comes thru loud and clear. He is someone you can trust and believe in. As a retired Fire/Emergency Medical Response Captain, Springsteen’s lyrics in The Rising were palpable as he describes the thoughts and feelings of a firefighter responding to the twin towers in N.Y. 345 Firefighters lost their lives that day wearing the Maltese cross of their calling and as the men climb the towers their thoughts turn to their loved ones. Parenthesis added by me as the lyrics strengthen the thread.

The Rising

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me

Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind

I make my way through this darkness

I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me (duty)

Lost track of how far I’ve gone

How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed

On my back’s a sixty pound stone (SCBA air tank)

On my shoulder a half mile of line (folded pack of hose)

Come on up for the rising

Come on up lay your hands in mine

Come on up for the rising

Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning (firehouse)

Bells ringing filled the air (alarm bells)

Wearin’the cross of my calling (FF Maltese Cross)

On wheel of fire I come rollin’ down here (Fire Apparatus)

Chorus repeats

There’s spirits above and behind me (the already dead)

Faces gone black, eyes burnin’bright (fear in others faces)

 

May their precious blood bind me

Lord, as I stand before your fiery light

I see you Mary in the garden

In the garden of a thousand sighs

There’s holy pictures of our children

Dancin’ in a sky filled with light

May I feel your arms around me

May I feel your blood mix with mine

A dream of life comes to me

Like a catfish dancin’on the end of my line

 

Sky of blackness and sorrow

Sky of love, sky of tears

Sky of glory and sadness

Sky of mercy, sky of fear

Sky of memory and shadow

Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight

Sky of longing and emptiness

Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

Chorus repeats[4]

 

Not long before the 2004 election, Bruce for the first time took a political stance and endorsed John Kerry for president. An addendum of his words in Rolling Stone, September 2, 2004 is attached. He expresses my desires for a president who, “places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America’s citizens, courage and faith.” This is another juncture where my feelings and the lyrics of Bruce and Jackson Browne intersect. Both write about the historic winds that surround us with focused concern. On the Iraq War of choice Bruce wrote the lyrics to Devils and Dust-2005[5] and Last To Die-2007[6] in which he paraphrases John Kerry’s words to a congressional committee during Viet Nam. My wife and I stood up front with the firefighters for Kerry at the last big rally in Manchester days before the election. The rest is History.

Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake

The last to die for a mistake

Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break

Who’ll be the last to die, for a mistake

-From the same album and the song Magic

Trust none of what you hear and less of what you see

This is what will be, this is what will be…

…and the freedom that you sought’s

Driftin’ like a ghost amongst the trees

This is what will be, this is what will be

 

Jackson Browne’s song The Drums of War[7] intertwines with the thread of my feelings facing another four years under Bush and at War:

…time comes when everything you ever thought you knew

Comes crashing down and flames up in front of you

Roll out the drums of war

Roll back the freedoms that we struggled for

What were those freedoms for?

Let’s not talk about it any more

Roll out the drums of war

Whatever you believe the necessary course to be

Depends on who you trust to identify the enemy

Who beats the drums for war?

Even before the peace is lost

Who are the profits for?

And who are they who bear the cost

When a country takes the low road to war

Who gives the orders, orders to torture?

Who get to no bid contract the future?

Who lies, then bombs, then calls it an error?

Who makes a fortune from fighting terror?

Who is the enemy of truth and justice?

Where are the courts, now when we need them?

Why is impeachment not on the table?

We better stop them while we are able

Roll out the drums of war

 

            The last line is a call for a revolution of ideas and it has started with the campaigns of 2004 and 2006 leading up to this critical election and the choices to be made by the voters of this country. I feel a need to speak up for the truths I see, a need to build bridges of connection and communication, understanding and reason. The truths of Bruce and Jackson’s lyrics strengthen and intersect with both History and how I feel. They don’t know me from a hole in the wall but over the years they have touched me deeply and I am grateful. It is better to write than wallow in grief, to speak up and stop the thief, to feel the fire in your belly and shed light on the liars.  Our country changed with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. All were leaders I believed in and feel as if we have lost great potential for this country in the years since their passing. Jackson Browne touches on this and the connection of today’s History to the 60’s in the song, Off Of Wonderland[8]:

…there was change in the air

It was love everywhere

Living off of Wonderland

Ankle deep in contraband

Working on a life unplanned

Didn’t we believe in love?

Didn’t we believe in giving it away?

That didn’t really leave us with the love

To find our way

After RFK and Martin Luther King

 

Do you feel it today?

Love is still on the way

Coming over Wonderland

The world is in your open hand

Once again it’s at your command

 

Didn’t we believe in love?

Didn’t we believe that love would carry on?

Wouldn’t we receive enough

If we could just believe in one another

As much as we believed in John

Do you want to know a secret? (I believe that) before time the conqueror turns us to devils and dust a rising will occur over the great seas and that love will reign over us. That the ideals and ideas of the founding fathers of this country will be the last to die as the drums of a war of revolutionary idea wins. A global world will be built with magic, off of a wonderland thread of dreams picked up from the language of lyrics in music that connects us all. We will construct a house of the rising sun of reason, live in peace and let it be.

Language is the thread! Peace is the answer!


[1] 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.

[2] Rolling Stone-Issue 946—April 15,2004 by Jackson Browne

[3] Rolling Stone-Issue 912/913—Dec 26, 2002 by Fricke, David

[4] 2002 Bruce Springsteen-The Rising/Columbia Records N.Y.,N.Y. http://www.brucespringsteen.net

[5] 2005 Bruce Springsteen-Devils and Dust-Columbia Records

[6] 2007 Bruce Springsteen-Magic-Columbia Records

[7] 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.

[8] 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.