Sunday, May 25, 2008

PsyOps Detroit by Louis Evan Palmer

In 2005, the 40th playing of the Super Bowl came to Detroit (do they still makes cars here?), Michigan. It had been 23 years since it had been to Detroit in 1982 - basically, a generation ago. The game featured the Pittsburgh Steelers (do they still make steel here?) and the Seattle Seahawks (do they still make planes here?)

The half-time show "starred" the geriatric (yes, censor me) Rolling Stones who put on a pitiful stale performance of intensely over-played songs - how could people not retch at the sound & sight of "(I can't get no) Satisfaction" as sung by a faux-angry pathetically strutting rooster-like Jaggar? Being surrounded by his night-of-the-living-dead cohorts wheezing and bobbing with ghastly "smiles" pasted to their wrinkled drug-addled faces didn't help.

It would have been an affront at any venue - who does the NFL think their audience is anyway? But to "showcase" an ancient British band fronted by hundreds of phony young fans clapping and waving their arms in the birthplace of the Motown sound was as jolting an insult as could be delivered to a city. To be in the home of the one of the most amazing and popular musical styles of the 20th century and not to make that the centerpiece of the half-time show which is first and foremost a musical celebration boggles the mind. It's so nonsensical that one begins to wonder if this was a deliberate denigration of Detroit, even a psychological warfare operation.

Was there a massive pre-game protest campaign against this affront? Don't know - if there was it was remarkably quiet or hidden (or suppressed). Was there a boycott or post-game complaint mail-ins? There was at least one article in the local Detroit newspaper (McGraw, Bill. "JOURNAL: No R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Motown halftime"; Dec. 1, 2005, Detroit Free Press) which is no longer accessible via the internet. (surprise!) But not numerous articles and talk-shows, etc. Not numerous and loud and effective.

That it happened is bad enough. That it happened with barely a whimper of protest is worse. Detroit has its problems but it doesn't need gratuitous violence being done to its heritage and pride - which is what the Super Bowl 40 half-time "show" was. And a Motown half-time show would have been so much better!

PsyOps Dettoit, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Mysterious Moon is Vital to Earth (1) by Louis Evan Palmer

Moonlight was something to be avoided in medieval times as it might induce madness. It was also to avoided during nocturnal wartime operations when darkness was needed.

Ancient cultures were very aware of the Moon as it was used to measure the months and held to affect women's menstrual cycles. In today's modern societies, it's much less of a cultural factor. Yet, the pure raw physical impacts of the Moon are staggering - to the extent that life as we know it might not exist without it.

The Moon strongly affects the oceans and seas. Estimates run from 1/3 to 1/2 of the height of the tides are a result of the Moon's gravitational pull (the rest is from the Sun). This also affects the width of the inter-tidal areas around the world. This is the boundary formed by the low and high tides and is typically an area of great diversity of life.

Earth without the Moon would rotate much faster. The Moon slows the Earth down. If the Moon was gone, the days on Earth would be around 8 hours in length and we would have 1095 of them in a year. This would have an enormous impact on life on Earth.

In addition, a faster rotation would affect the wind. We would have very little north-south air movement. Most winds would flow west to east and would be very persistent and in the range of 200 miles per hour. Continuous hurricanes and cyclones would rage throughout the tropics possibly like the Red Eye of Jupiter which is, in fact, a centuries-old hurricane.

The impact of its physical effects on humans and other of Earth's creatures is hard to predict but would be significant. After all, we're mostly water.

It has even been postulated that the Moon contributed to heating in the Earth's crust and mantle and helped trigger convection and magma flows which led to plate tectonics.

The Moon also stabilizes the Earth's wobble. Without that stabilization, Earth's tilt would move around more and this would have a tremendous impact on the seasons and weather.

We should be thankful for the Moon because without we might not be here. Who knew?

The Mysterious Moon is Vital to Earth, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Murder as Entertainment by Louis Evan Palmer

Perhaps in Elizabethan times, murder and violence were prevalent to the extent that their depiction in most of Shakespeare's plays was a reflection of their society rather than a projection. However, in out times, in advanced countries like Canada, murder is thankfully a fairly rare event, and yet, the roster of popular shows overflows with murder-mystery-like stories set in a wide range of locales and exploring a variety of work and social settings. Even shows that purport to be character-based and devoted to relationships will veer into dark and violent realms when their ratings dip. How much of this is giving people what they like and will return for more of versus catering to baser fears and impulses? Can we always prosper financially by evoking the infamous trio of fear, uncertainty and doubt, and regardless, should we?

Now, it appears that we have crossed the (story) line from where murder was evil and its perpetrators deserving of relentless pursuit and justice to where it's offered as a diversion, where the audience gets to play detective. Maybe we can blame Agatha Christie for making murder seem somewhat innocuous and as something that might interrupt an afternoon tea but not much beyond?

In addition, in our collective efforts to produce better literature, writers trying to make their villians multi-dimensional have succeeded in making some of them into cult figures and anti-heros. The absolute glut of books and movies and TV series about serial killers bears no relationship to their numbers or the threat they pose. It does bear a relationship to the fear they trigger.

Fear, the natural safety-enhancing fear we should have, should push us into action to alleviate the causes of our fears. Watching numerous works, both non-fictional and ficitonal, about that which is causing our fears in no way deals with it in a positive way. The other reason to keep watching, reading or listening to these works is because they "entertain" us. This is a choice we should not make as it means that we don't want to solve our fear problem, we'd rather continue to experience it and "enjoy" it as it were even if that enjoyment is negative. The negatives always seem more intense than the positives and we often gravitate towards intensity.

Our entertainments define us as much as anything else. If we "relax" or "unwind" by watching murder stories or playing ultra-violent video games or we get a buzz by betting large amounts of money we can't afford to lose on sporting events then we're feeding the beast in ourselves and in our society. For example, in some parts of Texas, it's entertainment to sit on your back porch and drink beer while you shoot rats. We know because that's apparently what Dubya used to do with some good ol'boys in latter days. To try to categorize any of these types of entertainment as "fun" is to trivialize murder and violence in a way that makes it more likely on our streets and homes. It may even make it easier to start illegal wars - the Iraqis may have begun to look a lot like rats, ripe for some "US of A" shock & awe.

Obviously, we need and want to be entertained but we must exercise more discrimination in what we accept as entertainment and not let jaded, spent hollywood-styled hacks and toadies twist us to their world view. Say no to "murder mystery" fun and to shows that advertise about the terror, horror and fear they will evoke. It's there but let's not make it the main course.

Murder as Entertainment, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.