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Occupied With Discernment

If you woke up over the weekend to find out that a park or downtown area of your city was filled with people marching and carrying protest signs you probably had the same initial reaction that I did:

“What are those people carrying on about?”

Your second reaction probably had to do with how long you’ve been alive.  For anybody who lived through the 1960’s or ’70’s the reaction was probably one of underwhelming disinterest.  For you this protest was probably like flipping past an episode of “America’s Got Talent”,  you’ve not only seen this kind of thing before, you’ve also seen it done much better.

If you are too young to remember the kind of demonstrations that included draft cards, fire, and the public brandishing of brassieres, you may have felt the twinge of concern that arises from fear, the fear of the unknown.

When we see or experience something we don’t understand, we tend to have a fear based reaction.  This is our survival instinct kicking in.

If you are confused, agitated, concerned, or frightened by the recent “Occupation Protests” it’s probably because you don’t understand the reasons why so many people are “sitting in” or “marching through” places like Wall Street in New York City.

If you don’t understand them or what they want, you aren’t alone.  Many of the protesters are as confused as you are. (more…)

When Adventureland Stinks

Have you ever considered just how powerful the Walt Disney corporation is?  On a truly global scale, they play a major role in shaping cultural attitudes and values at a level that not even public education can compete with.  For instance:

They have their own pronunciation of the word “Caribbean” and they’ve convinced you to use it.

When you look at a world map, or talk about taking a luxury cruise, you pronounce Caribbean the way the British Empire intended when they ruled the earth; you say it with the emphasis on the RIBB portion on the word.  You say “Ca-RIBB-ian”.

But the minute you set foot in a Disney Theme Park or movie theater you immediately begin pronouncing it like the name of the Disney ride; with an emphasis on the BE-IN part of the word.  You say “Care-A-BE-IN.”

While there is no official pronunciation of the word in a real world context (it can vary from Island to Island) there absolutely IS a correct pronunciation of the word in the Disney context.

If you don’t believe me, try announcing to your friends that you’re headed over to ride the “Pirates of the Ca-RIBB-ian” and watch what happens; people snap their heads around to identify the “idiot foreigner” who, quite probably, also has no idea that $9 is a reasonable price for a churro.

The ability to create an artificial environment of agreement where agreement does not naturally exist is a true demonstration of power.

Despite their considerable power I will tell you what Disney can’t do.

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The Cult of Personality

At the end of The Return of the Jedi a surrendered Luke Skywalker is taken into the presence of the Evil Emperor, in the throne chamber of the Death Star.  It’s a dark, mechanical, futuristic room that features a giant fishbowl window that looks out onto the vastness of space.

To me the room is all wrong.

The cold and heartless area was a nice attempt at designing the lair of a man who lusts for power and universal domination, but while the Emperor may be interested in dominating the galaxy, a plain fact of life is that cruel dictators are actually way more into themselves than they are into the thing they want to posses. This is why every toppled dictator has a palace filled with paintings and golden statues of themselves.

The Galactic Emperor’s chamber needed to feature a giant, gilded mirror as opposed to a massive window.

In the past year, the revolutions of the Arab world have shed a renewed light on the face of dictators and despots.  As palaces and residences have fallen to rebel forces, we’ve been treated to a predictable buffet of images dedicated to the former leader’s largesse.
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