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PONDERING THE RETURN TO SMALL TOWN AMERICA–THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY

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Greetings from the mountain top…

Once upon a time, when The Guru was a tiny lad, life in America was simple.  Truly.

Like John Mellencamp (I truly miss Johnny Cougar), The Guru was reared in a small town.  Life wasn’t fair or equal or just for all, but it was simple primarily because of the small town and the fact that far less people were roaming the lands.  Bing Crosby played on the radio (we never heard him hit his children), Count Basie and his orchestra calmed our jangled nerves, Gary Cooper stood 30 feet tall on the big screen and always did the right thing, Abbot and Costello made us laugh, Gene Autry kept watch over the prairie (where the hell did they hide the orchestra as he sang while on horseback?) and people strove to do the right thing far more often than not.

People weren’t better or more morale then, contrary to popular opinion.  They simply lacked the anonymity to do wrong.

In a small town (we had party telephone lines then–all houses on a street shared one phone line and you could listen in on your neighbors phone call) anonymity is nonexistent and your choices are instantly broadcast throughout the county.  Do wrong, date a married woman, take some cash out of the till, hit your wife, come home drunk, or lie in business and your neighbors, friends, and relatives know pretty quickly.  Self-policing at it’s finest.

Then the nation exploded, we all migrated to big cities for big opportunities, we became increasingly anonymous, and trouble soon followed.

Peer pressure can be a negative, but it also serves a positive purpose in a civilized society–it keeps us honest and moral.  Chris Rock, one of The Gurus favorite young comedians, says that “Men are as faithful as their options.”  Therein lies the problem.  Too many options (and too much anonymity) lead to too many wrong choices.

The internet, however, is in the process of shrinking the world at an exponential pace which has had the unexpected consequence of yanking our huge, rapidly expanding and anonymous world back into a figurative small town.  Politicians can no longer escape their actions by blending in with the crowd.  School teachers and priests can’t diddle students without the video surfacing on YouTube.  Neighbors can’t steal and jerks can’t escape and wrong-doers are ultimately exposed even in the government (thank you WikiLeaks) because the small town is alive and well albeit online.

The small town of 2012 doesn’t look like the little rest stop in which The Guru was raised.  There isn’t a soda shop or only one traffic light, everyone doesn’t call you by name as you walk down the street, and you probably won’t be visited by the Ladies Auxiliary to be asked to contribute to the Veteran’s Day parade but make no mistake–the small town is alive and well and we should all be thankful.

Thank you Bill Gates (or Al Gore, or whoever the hell wants to take credit) for returning transparency to the universe even if it wasn’t your original intention.  The world is again small and, through positive peer pressure and an increasing lack of anonymity, we’re more and more likely to choose right if only because our ability to get away with wrong is shrinking.

Yes, the internet allows us to hide.  It also prevents us from hiding.  Each incarnation of technological advance seems to strip away a bit more of our anonymity and while that is dubious for privacy rights it is also a positive in terms of the pressure to do right.

_____________________________
Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small – communities  John (Cougar) Mellencamp, 1985

Peace out ya small town freaks

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PONDERING GEORGE CARLIN AND THE WORD ‘FUCK’

Greetings from the mountain top…

One of the many advantages of teaching 20-something, wanna-be, hippie chicks (currently from Lithuania) is that you get to revisit old material. After ingesting copious amounts of the herb of Mother Earth, the conversation last night turned (as it often does) to philosophy, semantics, and definitions of Americanisms.

When The Guru welcomes students from other nations (currently 26 countries receive daily teachings online from The Guru) the questions often turn to Americanisms. A few favorites are pornography, idioms, music, fashion, and cussing which brings us to the word ‘fuck’. The word is used often, but no one in history does it more justice than the late, brilliant comedian George Carlin. It is with utmost respect and reverence that the following is shared from one of his most famous routines.

“Perhaps one of the most interesting words in the English language today, is the word FUCK. Out of all of the English words which begin with the letter F, FUCK is the only word referred to as the “F” word, it’s the one magical word. FUCK as most words in the english language, is derived from German, the word “fricken[?]”, which means to strike.

“In English, FUCK falls into many grammatical categories.

“As a transitive verb, for instance. John FUCK-ed Shirley. As an intransitive verb, Shirley FUCKS.

“It’s meaning’s not always sexual; it can be used as an adjective, such as John’s doing all the FUCK-ing work.

“As part of an adverb, Shirley talks too FUCK-ing much. As an adverb enhancing an adjective, Shirley is FUCK-ing beautiful.

“As a noun, I don’t give a FUCK.

“As part of a word abso-FUCKING-lutely, or in-FUCKING-credible. And, as almost every word in the sentence, FUCK the FUCK-ing FUCK-ers.

“As you must realize, there aren’t too many words with the versatility of FUCK. As in these examples describing situations such as fraud, I got FUCK-ed at the used car lot. Dismay, Aw FUCK it. Trouble, I guess I’m really FUCK-ed now. Agression, Don’t FUCK with me buddy. Difficulty, I don’t understand this FUCK-ing question. Inquiry, Who the FUCK was that? Dissatisfaction, I don’t like what the FUCK is going on here. Incompetence, He’s a FUCK-off. Dismissal, Why don’t you go outside and play hide-and-go-FUCK yourself?

“I’m sure you can think of many more examples.With all these multi purpose applications, how can anyone be offended when you use the word?

“We say, use this unique, flexible word more often in your daily speech. It will identify the quality of your character immediately. Say it loudly, and proudly!

“FUCK you!”

Peace out ya fucking freaks

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