Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Attention Span of Fungus

By Alan Caruba

We call it “news” because, presumably, the news media is providing us with some “new” information about events in the world. If editors and reporters could not come up with something new to write about, your daily newspaper or television news program or channel would cease to exist.

The problem is that most news is the same news. Only the names change.

There is, of course, the constant issue of bias in the reporting of the news, but quite possibly the most serious problem facing the news media and those of us who consume their offerings is the way our attention span is somewhere between that of fungus and algae.

As case in point is the astounding financial meltdown that eliminated millions, if not trillions, of dollars of value in the stock market, the housing market, imports and exports. We were all “rich”, i.e., had access to credit, and now we are not. Despite what is being hailed as the kick-off to the latest Recession, Americans were devoid of any signs of panic.

The reason, I suggest, was the now depleted American attention span. Credit crisis! Bailout! What’s for dinner?

For a generation whose idea of communication is text messaging “How R U?” the notion that they are avidly following the campaigns or aware of national and world events is laughable.

For an older generation whose water cooler debate focuses on wondering who the hell the Tampa Bay Rays are, an ardent concern with every nuance of the campaign is not to be expected.

An older generation that survived past recessions and wars are about the only people who can be counted upon to actually be conversant with the issues.

So the campaigns are reduced at this point to slogans about Joe the Plumber, shooting moose, and comparable inanities.

To the extent the whole thing has gone on far too long, we have only ourselves and our primary election system to blame.

To the extent that supporters of Barack Obama know virtually nothing about his life, his associates, his political agenda (liberal!), and what he is likely to do if elected, it really doesn’t matter. A short attention span requires only that he look good and speak well.

McCain’s supporters know who he is and presumably what he stands for (Conservative? Moderate? Bi-partisan?) simply because the man has been around so long. No need to pay much attention to John, we’ve heard it all before and now we’re stuck with it.

How many Americans will remember to actually vote is entirely predictable. At least fifty percent of registered voters never bother to vote. How close will this election be? At this time in the last national election, John Kerry was way ahead.


WayneSMT said...

The reason Americans were devoid of any sign of panic is that most Americans are still in denial over a great many things. And they simply won't get it, until they have no choice but to accept what has happened to them or not.

A better analogy, then fungus and algae would have been brocolli or sprouts or perhaps lemmings, sheep and monkeys. I loved Rudyard Kiplings description of the monkeys, who carried a stick all day, meaning to do great things with it, but all was forgotten at the drop of a nut. Fungus and Algae are tenacious, they hang on.

"An older generation that survived past recessions and wars are about the only people who can be counted upon to actually be conversant with the issues."

The older generation is the mentality and thought processes that have brought us all to the shores of this undiscovered country, that we find ourselves on today.

Do you honestly think that America will return to it's greatness and power of days gone by?

Not in your lifetime or mine or our childrens or our childrens children will America return to the status that it held during the time of my father and grandfather.

We may once again be held in high regard on the world stage, but the days of unlimited growth, cheap energy and a consumer / service society are over. We will revert back to agrarian / industrial out of necessity.

Did you notice the closing of some of China's factories. Those factories shut down and detooled, at least Mattel and Hasbro's. So American kids will have to settle for last years toys this christmas while 10,000 people starve and freeze in Dongxing Or starve on the docks of the Free Trade zones that we set up. You ever wonder where the retailers get the vast majority of their goods to sell us?

When no one is buying those goods, do you think the people that were assembling them are still employed?

These next four years, no matter who get's in, is going to make the Great depression be known as the First World Depression, since this new one is going to make that one look like a bad day at the dog track.

Alan Caruba said...

There are so many things wrong with your interpretation of events and trends that I will not try to rebut this post. It's here to offer visitors are different point of view and an extremely negative one at that.

One thing worth noticing is that the financial mess is already showing signs of abating. Quick action has averted a more serious financial meltdown.

WayneSMT said...

Alan, they are letting the air out of the bubble in stages. The market will go down, then huge infusions of cash will push it back up, then it will go down again and this will happen over the next few months. The end result is still the same, you cannot prop up an illusion with an illusion. An economic system or any system is still a reflection of the people that it represents, and the people aren't doing so well.

"There are so many things wrong with your interpretation of events and trends that I will not try to rebut this post."

Go ahead and try. I wish someone would. The only reason I started any of this to begin with is that I did not feel comfortable with the results of my own research and wanted independent confirmation or factual rebuttal using ground truths. No one yet to date has been able to rebut any of my writings, some actually hold me in very high esteem, for being honest enough to tell people what they need to know, not what is going to make them all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

My attention span has been focused on America, and the future that I have seen America moving towards my entire life.

Alan we are a population of 300 and some odd million on a planet that is getting closer to 7 billion.

Can you explain to me how and why the rest of the world will start to see us as an asset on the world stage and not a liability.

and can you explain to me how the foreign policies and economic policies of this country that was dictated by the "older generation" is not directly related to the failure of those same policies.

I was born on August 18, 1965. Former contractor and homeowner, former employer. Former treasurer of the Knights of Columbus former lot of things, former canidate for State House of Representatives in Montana. I'm homeless living in a tent right now with my computers. Beats being homeless in Livingston, Montana in the winter.

Since you are of the "older generation", presumably you are familiar with Dr. Marion King Hubbert and his work in the oil and gas industry during the 40s and 50's culminating with his report in 1957. Why didn't you guys listen and act then? Instead you ignored the situation. Even when 1970 got here, just like he said things would happen, and they did. "the older, wiser, generaion", still did nothing to change the course that we were on. When the second bell curve hit in 2006 and Saudi hit peak oil, you still "stayed the course" of grow, grow, grow, control, control, control. Being of the older generation can you explain to me, why you ignored Dwight Eisenhower's warning in his farewell address? Or were you just, as the older generation, thinking that we can make alot of money on the way down on this thing?

This economy thing is nothing more then one of many conditions of world peak oil.

The only credit any of us will have when this thing is wound down, will be the credit that you build up between yourself and another human being.

America is slowing down, and that is a good thing. It will give a tremendous amount of people alot of time on their hands to do some critical thinking.

Remember that movie, Network? That anchors diatribe on the attention span of the public.


You knew then, and you did nothing.

Please rebut me, please explain and show to me, in terms and ideas that I can understand, that what I know to be the truth is not true.

There is only a small percentage of the population that has the attention span of a gnat. They pay attention to what the media tells them to pay attention to. They are given endless games, games and more games to occupy their minds.

There are a vast number of people that are not so easily distracted and are paying very close attention.

Alan Caruba said...

Wayne: First, I truly hope you are not living in a tent in Montana or are homeless in any respect.

You've again presented me with a panoply of comments that I do not want to refute one by one. Life is too short to do that, but I will tell you, as an expert on energy issues, that there was no "peak oiil" as Hubbert predicted and those that continue to predict it keep having to move the date forward every few years because vast new deposits of oil are found all the time.

I do not give a rat's patout what the rest of the world thinks of the United States. We have, since the end of WWII, become a vast economy and a vast empire. Envy fuels much of the talk about the U.S. Meanwhile, we send millions in foreign aid to people who don't like us. Go figure?

Because everything goes in cycles, from the climate to the economy, we are about to head right into the ditch because of the idiocy of those we voted to represent us. We will climb out of that ditch in time, but not without a lot of people taking a beating for playing by the rules.

WayneSMT said...

You and I have two diametricaly opposed view points.

Which is a good thing. Your views created and helped solidify my world view and my reality as it unfolded over the years. And yes I am homeless, but not in Montana. We lost the house in Montana and the business at the end of August. The wife moved into a small house in Livingston, MT with 7 cats and two dogs and I hit the road looking for a new beginning. The day I left was the day the pawn shops in Bozeman, MT stopped buying everything except guns and gold and when I looked in their back room. I understood why. They probably had enough musical equipment to fully furnish 10 bands and a half dozen or so recording studios easy. I wound up offing $9000 in studio equipment and recording equipment for about $300 and change for gas money to get on the road. I landed in San Juan Bautista. California's central valley on the backside of the Monterey peninsula. I'm living in a tent and being supported by my new friends and neighbors in this little campground. I fix things for them and help them with maintenance and upkeep on their RVs, and help them begin to explore the big, wide, wonderful world of the web and information.

You can see the tent at the bottom of the page. I wasn't foolish enough to try to stay in Montana as one of the hardest winters they have had is getting started.

I have seen upwards of 20 people at a time walking on the freeway pulling wagons, pushing carts, men, women and children in Washington State, through Oregon and Northern California. I got to see a guy get hit right outside of Ashland, OR early in the morning as he tried to get out of the way of an oncoming truck that was running the shoulder on the grade. I have seen whole families living in converted job trailers and service vehicles along the PCH. The last one I saw was an electrical contractor who lost his home and business in Idaho during the first week of September. They were in Monterey, CA, out of gas. He took his parts racks out and put in a bed and some camp cookware for him and his wife and their two girls.

Tell ya what. Let's agree to disagree and put the who is right and who is wrong on the back burner for a bit. I will make you a gentlemans agreement. When it becomes apparant that you were right all along. I will post back and say "Alan, you were right and I was wrong." But, if, I'm right on this. I would like you to email me and see if we can work together on this. There is a possibility that I may be able to present at the TED conference on Feb 10, not for sure yet. But would you like to join me?

Alan Caruba said...

Sounds like the Depression has already begun. I hope you find employment and are reunited with your wife. Beyond that, my life is a bit too busy to engage individually with everyone who posts I permit here or who email. Good luck!

WayneSMT said...
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