After a bout of watching commercial tv I just feel violated after too many commercials. I don’t feel especially clean after PBS either but I can usually shut things off knowing that the program is over and I’m just missing the multi-national corporate screed of why they’re at least a little good because they’re sponsoring a show or series. But no holds barred commercials just get to me after a bit. Do ad agencies really think we’re that malleable and gullable? The commercials are usually much louder than the program and often very busy, both visually and audibly. Often they wake our old dog and he is usually undisturbed by seismic events. But then, he can hear the refrigerator door open from 50 paces, so that might not be a valid point. He might just know that people go into the kitchen when the tv sounds like that. Still, I find myself resenting the commercials and the Faustian bargain they represent. I remember 25 years ago when one of the ideas of cable tv was that the commercials would not intrude into the programming. Or perhaps that is just constructing a idealized past that didn’t really exist.
Anyway, I just feel so disconnected from much of what is happening ‘out there’, outside this little house in the ‘real world’. As an aside, I got cut off in traffic on the way to work today by a Ford Excursion with American flags flying from little stalks on both front doors and a large flag covering most of the rear window. There were a couple of bumper stickers with flags too. I got a very close look at them as I locked the brakes while hoping the Rocky didn’t impact on the rear surface of that planetesimal. One sticker said something about ‘Americans pull together in a fight’. I thought, “unless you’re in rush hour traffic”. But then, maybe traffic was a combat substitute for the driver. As long as commuting doesn’t become a contact sport. A second later he charged back into the other lane, flipping another driver off while blasting the horn. I just felt like I was watching me drive to work in the Rocky. Like I’m in a raft on a river, seeing little snippets of weirdness as the current carries me along, past these vignettes on the bank. The same way I feel about 90 seconds into yet another 4 minute chain of commercials for fast food, 0% financing on SUVs or a yet to be introduced car model, and yet another trailer for a movie I’ve never heard of. Television news, especially what passes for local news, I find particularly disorienting. I try to remember the things O’Sensi said….
If Audrey is in the room, she will sometimes mute the tv which breaks the surreal spell. Then she’ll smile and ask me if I’m OK. I usually say something like, “I am now”. Then we both laugh because I do the same for her at times.
I feel hopelessly out of step when I get very far away from these computers, Audrey and Ian, a book, or doing archaeology. I feel very attuned when I’m holding Ian, watching him sleep, or watching Audrey hold him. My world gets very focused and distilled to a shining, crystalline point as I marvel at how soft the skin of his cheek is, how he smells, the little noises he makes while in my arms, and how small and defenseless he is. Lately, Ian will look at me in that vaguely unfocused baby way and I suppose he is mapping a face (my face!) to that voice and the smell that goes along with that voice. Then I think the world can do whatever it wants to me later, as long as I can take the memory of those moments with me I’m invulnerable and resolute. These days I can’t imagine my life being any other way.
Solar System on a Floppy. via Wired
The State of World Population 2001 Footprints and Milestones: Population and Environmental Change from the UN is out.
And a year ago, a number of us voted for our choice for the President of the United States. We have never heard for sure how that really came out.
The Digital Earth Project, part of the Cornell Geoscience Information System (GIS), is a global database created by the Institute for the Study of the Continents (INSTOC) at Cornell to make accessible geological information accumulated by Cornell researchers over the last eight years. The Project includes the Digital Earth Mapping Tool.