“War of the worlds” – a harmless 1938 prank, or an early psychological warfare experiment?

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Orson Welles impersonating an eye-witness in a staged mass-casualty crisis for CBS Radio in 1938.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.1
- George Santayana

The usual man or woman, who listens to the “news” faithfully, is constantly (and inevitably) exploited by all kinds of shrewd people…2
- Not-Two Is Peace

On the evening of October 30th, 1938, a few days before my mother was born, a fleet of Martians invaded the earth.  Or so CBS Radio told millions of people over the course of a now-famous hour-long radio broadcast.  This broadcast pretended to interview real eye-witnesses, convey the sounds of explosions and screams, and provide live speeches from U.S. government officials, as an intensely real but fake tragedy unfolded in real-time.

While in retrospect this may sound clever or amusing or “totally cool”, at the time it was not a tongue-in-cheek farce but an extremely realistic production, which included a cast of highly paid professional actors, state-of-the-art special effects, impersonations of FDR’s voice3 and people pretending to be top military commanders.  Occurring just prior to World War II, some listeners who tuned in after the program had already begun thought it was a German invasion.  Estimates were that over a million people panicked and began evacuation procedures.

Was this a simple Halloween joke?  Was it entertainment?  Or was it an early psychological warfare experiment using the new technology of mass media?  It depends on who you ask. Continue reading

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The truth of this time…

WTC-Fireman

Heralding a new era, a New York City fireman gestures toward the sky on September 11, 2001.1 (image source)

Hey everybody.  I’ve been on the road the past few weeks and don’t have a full article ready today, but here’s a couple quotes plus some images you might appreciate.

Some – many – might not like today’s quotes, and if so, please know that I sympathize completely.  Just passing on what I see and hear.

I have heard and seen enough.  You cannot imagine how fierce I’ve grown in my room.

The lion that will rush upon the world in the form of a black cat is the Truth Itself, the Demon of God, forced into a corner above the world.

The Smack of my Epiphany will ruin the surface of the world,
the thousand forms of your own machine will turn upon you,
and all the war and natural horrors you have feared will be my very act. Continue reading

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God and the “dad filter”

dad-filter

Filters bend and absorb light before it reaches us to shape what and how we perceive.  (image source)

Throughout my life I haven’t thought about God as much as some people. When I have thought about God it’s often been in the context of uncertainty, or really, distrust.

Which is weird because this is very similar to how I felt about my dad1 growing up.  My dad was not always there for me; he moved out of the house when I was five.  And more than that… my dad would re-enact certain “rituals” with me of the kind his older brother had once done with him.

For instance, I remember being at a roller-skating rink when I was just a wee lad, probably about eight years old, and I was zooming around having the time of my life, with dozens of kids and parents zooming around with me all moving in sync to the music.  My memory is that I was going the fastest, weaving in and out of everyone.  I was so happy.

Suddenly I had a bad feeling.  I looked up and saw my dad up ahead with a strange smile on his face.  As I got closer, something was wrong.  Continue reading

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First things first… who are we trying to please?

will.work.for.likes

This might be an honest confession for some of us..!

As anyone who runs a business knows, it’s not a bad idea to please your customers. Respecting your employees might even be a good idea, depending on whom you ask.

But outside of the workplace, if we look at life in general… whom are we trying to please in our lives when we are not at work, and how much effort and energy are we putting into it?

Here’s a very rare – an unbelievably rare – perspective:

The first thing we learned from Sri Ramakrishna was to pay no attention to the opinion of others. He used to say: ‘Spit on public opinion! Look toward God and try to please him!’1

- Swami Turiyananda (1863-1922)

Continue reading

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Gun control, Gandhiji, bravery, and true peace

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Cooperation + tolerance = peace.1 (image source)

Prejudiced people will listen only to one side of a story. Swamiji had an open mind. He would take every point of view into account. He had a generous and forgiving heart.

- Swami Turiyananda speaking of Swami Vivekananda2

My whole life I have never been much into guns, and never had a good feeling about people who used them on others.  You know?  Violence seems like a bad way to try to solve problems, at least the vast majority of the time.

More recently I’ve had friends who owned guns, and I started getting curious about this topic of “gun control”.  Why do people feel the need to have guns?  Sometimes if I can get inside people’s heads and see how they see the world, it makes it easier to have a dialogue, to cooperate, to find new solutions together.

Does that make sense?

In this article I’ve summarized some rationales I’ve discovered for why some people have not been favorable to so-called “gun control”, including Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) of all people, one of the most famous promoters of non-violence in living memory.  And I’ve tried to take a step back and put all this into a spiritual perspective that we could consider, no matter what religion we might subscribe to.

Warning:  this article describes situations that might be uncomfortable for some readers to think about. Continue reading

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Monogamy, polygamy, and true marriage

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“The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship.” – Jackie Kennedy.  Wow.  It seems that even rich, beautiful, decent people can still have complex or even disappointing sex lives. (image source)

Hey everybody.  I don’t have a new article ready this week so I’m just posting a short quote with pics.

This is something I happened to read earlier this week which I thought was cool and thought you might enjoy it.  It’s from an essay entitled “Monogamy, Polygamy, and True Marriage”.

Conventional sexual desire is inherently promiscuous.

It is moved by worldly attractiveness, reinforced by romantic illusions, and both frustrated and stimulated by the factual limitations of bodily pleasure and mortality itself.

Marriage is not properly a means either for satisfying or confining the power of sexual desire. Continue reading

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Darwin’s theory of evolution: good science or faulty philosophy?

charles darwin

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is considered the father of evolutionary theory but apparently it was really his grandfather Erasmus who formulated the theory of evolution. (image source)  Modern science, I was surprised to learn, seems to show that evolution cannot possibly be true.

When I was little I learned about evolution – the idea that as humans we evolved from lizards and microbes through a process of competition and violence, with the strong surviving while the weaker members of the species die off in the struggle for life.

As a child I initially found this theory depressing but then I accepted it and made it my own – I identified with it on a very deep level.

In high school I won the award for best science student in my graduating class, and later on, I found myself doing research in a genetics laboratory at a major university as an undergrad.  I was hopeful that the answers to life’s most important questions would be discovered by science someday.

After graduation, when I met people who didn’t believe in evolution, I felt uncomfortable, like I was meeting someone from another planet.  Did they use a fork and spoon to eat their food?  Did they sleep upside down?

To reduce my anxiety, I developed the attitude that ridicule, contempt and avoidance were probably the best ways to relate to non-evolution believers.

More recently I stopped running away from people who didn’t believe in evolution, and started getting curious – what would happen if I didn’t dislike or fear them?  Finally when I came across professors of biology (!) who didn’t believe in evolution, that was the last straw.

What I learned from those professors surprised me.

This article is written in an attempt to answer some lingering questions I still had about Darwin’s theory of evolution – what science has to say about it, what the theory’s effects are upon people like you and me, and then what kinds of politics surround the theory.

1. Please don’t freak out

For those of you who identify strongly with the theory of evolution, as I did, please keep in mind that disproving Darwin’s theory of evolution does not mean that a religious doctrine you once heard about on television must now become your own belief system.  It doesn’t mean there’s an old man up in the sky, oiling his tools and cleaning his workshop. Continue reading

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