Observations on the Obvious | Beaufort County Now

For many years, I have had a percolating theory hiding just below the surface of my mind. Imagination and reality, Technology, Pirates, sailing ships
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Observations on the Obvious

   For many years, I have had a percolating theory hiding just below the surface of my conscious mind. I have been one of the fortunate ones who was raised in an age where technology improved the standard and quality of life for almost all of my generation. But it appears that this all came at a cost to individuality.

Observations on the Obvious

   Unlike my parents, I straddled the transition from information available only in written form to the current environment where information is available at the touch of a keyboard or screen.  Anyone who went to school in pre 1980 will remember the days spent in the school or local library doing research for a term paper.  For many it was a dreaded event while for others it was a peek into the past through a combination of facts and imagination.  Term papers used to be a combination of form and substance.  Not only were you required to show where your got your facts but you had better spend some time on penmanship.  I have always been a lousy penman.  My writing was so bad (still is) that I once had a paper returned with a note. "Unreadable, try again!" I won't go so far as to say my savior was the typing class in 10th grade, but it did improve my presentation though it did not help with the factual basis of my papers. 

   We got our first television when I was around 9 or so (1954) and I was in high school before I ever saw a color TV, thanks to a friend's parents acquisition of one so we could see Bonanza (1962) in color.  Color TV was available before Bonanza but economic circumstances dictated that only one of my friends parents could afford one. They also had a backyard pool. Obviously their house was one of the most popular in the neighborhood where I hung out.

   For most of my childhood, playing outside was the order of the day. I won't bore you with the "we knew when to come in when the street lights came on" but it does seem to have a ring of truth.  Most of our games were devised using nothing more than a few props and some ingenuity. I think I was 13 when the Hula Hoops became so popular.  I can't imagine a current generation spending hours standing in their front yard swinging their hips to keep that former garden hose going around.   

   Things got a bit better in high school when the transistor radio (1958) was pretty much the rage for Sub Freshmen in the eighth grade.  Of course we only had AM broadcast at the time and were pretty much at the mercy of the local DJ for our choice of music. Thank goodness for Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly and of course Elvis.

   The technology trajectory picked up fairly fast in the 1960s with the space race and the first moon landing in 1969.  And the rest as they say is history.  It was not until the mid to late 1980s that most people had access to a personal computer which began to change the way almost everything was done.

   I don't lament the loss of archaic methods of entertaining ourselves, but I do note that one thing has changed.  WE NO LONGER HAVE TO WORK TO ENTERTAIN OURSELVES. Just a push of a button, or a voice command can summon a host of things to keep our minds occupied.  I realize that this is not an original thought on my part, but I was recently reminded of the way technology can alter the cognitive operation of a mind.  I no longer can or need to remember phone numbers. There was a time in my career where I could remember the account number, phone number and address of my top 50 industrial customers.  I could also remember the part number of our most popular products.  Today, I cannot remember any phone numbers except my first two or three on the dial phone of my youth.

   I remember one of our design engineers lamenting about the crop of young engineers who did not know how to properly use a drafting table.  His claim was that AutoCad and other computer drafting software made for lazy engineers and lousy products.  Since you could make changes on the fly and have it ripple through the layers of drawings, you did not have to put much thought or calculation into your designs.  He was probably correct in his belief that you should think and plan before committing your design to paper.  If you screwed up badly enough the whole drawing had to be redone. I am sure there are errors in this article that I will not catch because spell and grammer check will red line the obvious errors, but not catch the errors that could be there in the wrong context.

   So what is this theory that I mentioned in the first paragraph?  When you no longer have to be proactive to entertain yourself you develop a lazy approach to other things, like though and problem solving.  Like I said above WE NO LONGER HAVE TO WORK TO ENTERTAIN OURSELVES. We are too quick to consume the pablum of 'FACTS' presented without though or effort. That pablum helps us form opinions not based in facts because we are either too lazy or too ready to accept the things that make us feel good.

   Aldous Huxley wrote a novel (Brave New World) in 1932 that hinted at the future of mankind. It is not so important whether his predictions (it is a work of fiction) came true as it is that the world was changing the way we act and react to technology and fake science. Science is not a democracy with scientist voting to form a consensus. It is either is fact or it is not fact. Calling computer modeling "SCIENCE" is the fallacy of the climate debate. The truth is we don't really know what the heck is happening to the earth. If we cannot predict the weather 30 days out I doubt we can predict the climate 5 or 10 years out. Here is the chilling quote about Brave New World that should warn us how fact and fiction can be manipulated by those in power.

"It is important to recognize the distinction between science and technology. Whereas the State talks about progress and science, what it really means is the bettering of technology, not increased scientific exploration and experimentation. The state uses science as a means to build technology that can create a seamless, happy, superficial world through things such as the feelies. The state censors and limits science, however, since it sees the fundamental basis behind science, the search for truth, as threatening to the State’s control. The State's focus on happiness and stability means that it uses the results of scientific research, inasmuch as they contribute to technologies of control, but does not support science itself. " Spark Notes.

I have watched my grand kids play in the living room and immediately stop what they are doing the minute the TV is turned on to a cartoon or something else that catches their interest.  The immediately place themselves in a chair and are glued to the screen. Apparently ET has returned home.

   Naturally, as I said, this is not an original idea by me, but I did wait until I wrote this article to research the "How Technology is Changing the way we think."  Here is just one result of my research:

"You can think of attention as the gateway to thinking. Without it, other aspects of thinking, namely, perception, memory, language, learning, creativity, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making are greatly diminished or can’t occur at all. The ability of your children to learn to focus effectively and consistently lays the foundation for almost all aspects of their growth and is fundamental to their development into successful and happy people." Pyschology Today

   My imagination was sparked by the book Treasure Island written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883. Something about the X on the map grabbed my attention. I had vivid mental pictures of Pirates and treasure maps. I was already well into my own private pirate world when Walt Disney made a movie in 1950. I don't know the exact year when I saw the movie but it was most likely 1954-55. That may have been one of the first times I had to reconcile my imaginary images with the film images. Over the years, I have found it is better to read the book before I see the movie. That is the wonderful thing about having mental images created by you own mind rather than some film director.But I will admit that the movie images were pretty much the same as I had imagined, with the exception being that the little boy was me."

   I think that a child's imagination is ingrained into their makeup from birth, but I also think that it can be blunted by the constant input that requires no work.  Computer gaming seems to take away the patience that was once required as everything happens at the speed of frames per second.  Is it possible that the Attention Deficit of our youth is induced by the constant effortless free technology of TV, Ipads, Smart Phones etc? Parenting in today's world may be multifold degrees more complicated than it was for my parents and myself. If it is true that we are what we eat, maybe it is not too far fetched to see that we become what we watch. Can you remember the times when all you had to do was imagine your way into an adventure from the back porch or bedroom? Here is an example of how a child's imagination can take them to far away places with dreams of Pirates and sailing ships. Let's try a little experiment. Read the words below or watch the video and see if it does not bring back that innocence that you once had as child not hampered by a flickering screen or limitations of possibility. Just you, a friend and your imagination.

The Pirates of Stone County Road

   Written and performed by John Stewart

Henry! It's getting t'wards suppertime you know. Henry!"
There she calls from her second floor room
The end of a back porch afternoon
Where we'd stand on the bow of our own man-of-war
No longer the back porch any more
And we'd sail pulling for China
The pirates of Stone County Road
All weathered and blown
And we'd sail ever in glory
'Till hungry and tired
The pirates of Stone County Road
Were turning for home
"Henry! You better be getting on up to bed now, don't ya know, Henry!"
There she calls from her high wicker chair
As I climb to my room up the stair
Where the wind through the shutters
Sends the mainsail to fall
From the shadow of the bedpost on the wall
And we'd sail pulling for China
The pirates of Stone County Road
Weathered and blown
And we'd sail ever in glory
'Till hungry and tired
The pirates of Stone County Road
Were turning for home
"Henry! Can you hear me, Henry. Are you up there Henry? Henry!"

   Its okay to take a moment or two and day dream or use your imagination to escape the realities of life. In fact, it might even help you to separate reality from fantasy when you see the results of someone else's imagination presented as facts.






( May 5th, 2018 @ 11:25 pm )
I truly enjoyed the post.
( May 5th, 2018 @ 8:22 am )
A good conspiracy theory depends on the idea that it is far fetched. I have another theory.

"The Philadelphia Experiment and Russian Collusion"

Here is the link to the article on BCN:

It is the best I could do on short notice.
( May 4th, 2018 @ 12:39 pm )
The Philadelphia Experiment: I just wonder how much of that is real - seamen melded into the ship's bulkhead; disappearing and winding up on the James River. Wow.

Hey Bobby Tony: Would this be a B.T. subject?
( May 4th, 2018 @ 11:36 am )
No doubt, the original Groundhog Day. I enjoyed The Philadelphia Experiment original movie which was a rehash of the theme.
( May 4th, 2018 @ 11:29 am )
Billy Pilgrim's debut was in Schlachthaus fünf. Great book; decent film.

I had already read "Cats Cradle" and "Mother Night" in Slaughterhouse-Five. That whole theme of jumping between realities in some hidden tear in the Space /Time Continuum has been used multiple times since.
( May 4th, 2018 @ 9:39 am )
I guess Kurt's writing is an acquired taste which I never took the time to acquire or investigate short of a few quotes. Like Hunter Thompson, he was outside the norm in many of his tomes. I have no doubt that he suffered from PTS'D' and that may very well be why I dare no stir the ashes of his writings for fear of creating a spark in my own tinderbox. Perhaps it is time to prod a bit.

"Vonnegut definitely had survived a lot. His once wealthy family was impoverished by the Great Depression, causing grim strains in his parents' marriage. His mother committed suicide. His beloved sister died of breast cancer, a day after her husband was killed in a train accident. But the defining horror of Vonnegut's life was his wartime experience and surviving the Dresden bombing, only to be sent into the ruins as prison labor in order to collect and burn the corpses. The ordeal cropped up continually in his work, but most notably formed the basis of Slaughterhouse-Five, the book that made Vonnegut famous."

( May 3rd, 2018 @ 8:09 pm )
Hey Bobby Tony, I read almost all of Kurt Vonnegut's books, some twice.

I enjoyed his weird humor, and always wondering where he would take Kilgore Trout next. I figured Kilgore was Kurt's extra eccentric alter ego.
( May 3rd, 2018 @ 7:55 pm )
This line from my article 'Naturally, as I said, this is not an original idea by me' prompted me to follow my natural OCD tendencies and do further research.
I found this discussion of the writer Kurt Vonnegut last novel. It gave me pause for two reasons:

1. I may have inadvertently plagiarized Kurt in this Article.
2. If indeed my thoughts parallel Kurt's mind then I should be afraid. Be very Afraid!

"It is no surprise that Vonnegut, a writer who saw the golden age of short story writing collapse under the weight of the widespread adoption of television, is no fan of the screen. But Vonnegut’s reason for disliking TV is less curmudgeonly than humane. His final novel, Timequake, includes a short story about an alien who invents the television. The invention soon replaces traditional learning: rather than develop their imaginations, the aliens learn from a box that gives them images splashed across a screen. As they lose their imaginative abilities, they lose the ability to “read interesting, heartwarming stories in the faces of one another.”

( May 3rd, 2018 @ 11:19 am )
Beautifully explained and so normal. You are both individuals and we, individuals, can be mighty stubborn.

After all I have seen, I would have well respected your father, as I do you Bobby Tony.
( May 3rd, 2018 @ 9:58 am )
It is illustrative to note that I did not like the SOB for a good part of my early adult life. It was not until I began to understand his early life circumstances that I understood the "Forged in Fire" nature of his character. He was a hard "Taskmaster", but it probably saved my life. I was indeed fortunate that he lived to 99 years old when I could relate to him adult to adult and my brother and I became the caretaker. I will admit it took some time for the Fruit to take root but the ground was a bit rough for a while.
To plagiarize Robert Frost

"And that has made all the difference."
( May 3rd, 2018 @ 9:39 am )
The one thing that I well know of you, and your father is that he was an eclectic, but well accomplished man; a good man, and I will bet what ever sum I can scrape together "that his fruit did not fall far from from the tree".

With your posts, I get your view of the world, and your father's and your mother's too on occasion. That is very cool and a benefit for our readers today, and, moreover, tomorrow.
( May 3rd, 2018 @ 8:40 am )
I distinctly remember reading the book but the time frame was unclear. I think it may have been assigned reading for a 10 year old boy in the fourth grade (which would explain the 1955 time frame) and then the Disney movie was shown on TV which cemented the images.

My dad's reading leaned heavily toward Louis L'Amour. I never understood why he was so enamored with reading Books in French until I got older.
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