The Art of Not Really Paying Attention

The potential for this post to make me look even more aloof and out of touch is going to be fairly high. These are the risks one must take however. Plus, I’m just trying to write more. It’s a practice I’ve always wanted to have more discipline in and one I find difficult to adhere to. Writing for pleasure, both mine and hopefully the readers is something that should occur more often. And so, here we have that attempt, internal monologue and all. Hopefully I bother to proof read this a couple of times before positing. But the likelihood of that is difficult to actually predict.

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So, they tried to burn London down. I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been reading closely the reasons why this occurred. Not that I don’t think this action is historical and important and pertinent to my existence. Not even because it feels so far removed from me. Riots in London feel very real and tangible to me. It’s violence is contextually relatable to my own privileged, white background. Further, my little understanding is that a collection of underemployed, undervalued, and ultimately bored younger people, tired of being useless in their society and seeing no way for stability under the capitalist model decided to burn that model down. I can sympathize with that, being over educated, fairly spry still and unable to find gainful employment. Some of that is out of choice and design, not working, but the prospects of even finding a job that I could sustain my present state of well-being as well as save for the unseen and the future is dim. I can’t even get an interview for mediocre jobs with a college degree and ten+ years of corporate experience and dedication to one company (by dedication I mean, I worked at one company, not that I devoted my spirit to them). By all accounts, I did everything a man at 18 is supposed to do. Go to school, get a job, work hard, buy a car and a house and a wife, breed children, subject them to the same system so they can repeat the program. Okay, so I never married or had kids, but I was well on my way before the bottom of this shaky, not necessarily fulfilling model fell out.

So it’s not that I don’t have a particular interest in the riots in London, but I am in a state of rebuilding and part of that rebuilding is intense focus on doing things for the love of doing them and attempting to live a life that does not impede on that. For as utterly violent and destructive and chaotic as I can and have been in my life, I strive for creativity. I want community building, skill sharing, sustainability. At 34, in a small city, that sits alone in the middle of a desert about as far from the modern world one can get without actually being isolated, I am finally finding these things. In London, the youth have attempted to clean out the old, to make a new model. That at the core, is what destructive riots are about. Tearing down that which is obsolete and replacing it with something new. It’s a metaphorical act with physical change against the landscape.

And there is the violence, the redistribution of material wealth, which is both sad and somewhat understandable. You have a working or poor class, educated to believe that success and happiness and sustainability is found only in having the best TV, the nicest clothes, essentially the things that don’t matter. And while these communities are at the crux of such riots, their involvement is always misrepresented in the media because it is often so misguided. We are so resigned to accept that there is a small pack of salivating wolves that stand at the top of these modern mountains we call skyscrapers and we have to accept our position based on their greedy decisions. We are so resigned in fact, that we hardly consider someone else’s profit off of our labor and toil.

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News media, including the journalism of music is trying very hard to draw me in too. The major news sources are sure to feed me attempts of Prime Minister Gordon Brown trying to re-write history in his favor as it happens, as the news travels faster than he can bumble out his idiocy. And while I think it’s funny he would consider censoring his own citizens through banning Facebook and twitter feeds, it shows 1.) how cruel these people can be, 2.) how little they learn from the collection of people (Egypt Mr. Brown?) and 3.) how truly stupid they actually are. The great Richmond punk band Inquisition taught me that though I may be mortal and thus fallible and weak, ideas are in fact bulletproof and can not be killed. The music media is trying to gain my sympathy by letting me know an indie music distributor was burned as part of the attacks and that this is a tragic casualty. But it fails to recognize what rioting and looting is. The loss here is not to the company, they are insured and will be fine. This is always the case. The tragedy is also not kids not getting records. Kids will get records. The problem is the loss of jobs, probably on the lower end of the economic scale of the people who work in that place. Co-conspirators to neither side, the low wage employees who pack and unpack boxes, sweep floors, drive trucks and stock the shelves are all out of jobs, now a part of the problem. This is the moral question of riots. They are bread from anger by the disenfranchised, carried out as a message to the ruling class, often with some semblance of rationality, but in the end, it just further disenfranchises more people already struggling.

Corporations are well protected. There are entire industries whose sole purpose in existing is to protect the corporate brotherhood. The failure of corporations in a free market occur not out of supply and demand but ineptitude and greed. Anything in the free market can be sold and marketed to a person. I learned this from GG Allin, the gross, hate rocker. Millionaire he was not, but people still paid to see a grown man spout hate, get naked, bleed all over himself, shit and then fling that shit at the paying audience. If one person can hear about that and decide “hey, that sounds like a good time” then I am convinced anything is marketable. Corporations problems are certainly not that of need, but again, like I said, of their own greed and stupidity.

I’ll give you an example from personal experience. I worked for a financial institution. The majority of our customer interaction came from our online face and telephone calls. As we were an online corporation, successful customers only ever needed to interact with the faceless website. This is a brilliant design of business by the way. If you can aim for an 85% rate of customer’s you never have to speak to, you are making money. The company I worked for, we weren’t that successful. For one thing, I remember a site wide meeting with some of the executive “leaders” of the company talking about our less than fantastic customer service ratings and following that up with a nonplussed statement about how that was expected because customer service had not been a top priority over the previous four quarters AND that the course of action wasn’t really going to change. This was proven shortly there after by a systematic dismantling of domestic customer service calls centers over the course of the following years that I worked their. Ultimately, call centers were outsourced to Thailand.

Thailand is a beautiful country, with an amazing history and, based on my interactions on the telephone for three years with our support staff their, filled with very nice, very polite people. This is actually a problem. There is, from my experience, hardly a sense of urgency in Thailand. Which is cool and great and amazing. It’s not that different from the tone I have come across in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But again, as our customers were calling because there was a problem, often with their most prized commodity, money,  there was no sense that shit was gonna get fixed in a timely manner. There was also a problem of communication. And I don’t mean these people were stupid or unable to speak English clearly or didn’t understand the language this business was conducted in. But there are cultural values of the people of Thailand that are not the values of Americans that often made accomplishing the tasks at hand difficult. Ultimately, this cost more money because it took more time to resolve problems and more customers took their money, the company’s only commodity, away. Not that the company ever did studies on this kind of shift in capital. Why I don’t know, we were in the red for over three years straight after the first of what seems to be many market crashes.

Never mind that it was a financial institution that was crooked and evil like all of them, hell-bent on bending the rules and regulations to maximize profits in the never-ending upward growth they attempted to create where somehow we all spend more money that doesn’t actually exist. But the point is, companies are protected by other companies. The company I worked for got a cash infusion from some investment capital firm in the billions. I don’t remember the amount, I just remember the day we got this money was the same day that France gave Algeria (I think) several billions of dollars and I found it funny that a country was getting not that much more money than a company with maybe 1,000 employees. When this doesn’t work out, the company I worked for, forever wounded and hurt will just be swallowed up by another company. It won’t so much die as become something else. Rebirth like a phoenix in the market place. It’s almost beautiful.

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In the wake of these riots is an unstable stock market. Now, I could go on and on about the fallacies of the stock market. I’ll try to keep it brief by saying aside from  ten years of working in the industry, I still don’t understand how the stock market actually works. There seems to be no logic to it. I might be really stupid, but I don’t think so. I understand how computer viruses work by talking to techie people. If I can find the system and logic from talking to those geeks (wonderful geeks I might add) I should be able to see the logic in any other type of system. Not so with the stock market. So I don’t have trust in it because I can’t explain it. It seems like a scam. I find it funny that we are in a crisis mode though financially, globally and yet the reaction to the continued volatility is one of shock and surprise. We are shocked and surprised that greedy people react without reason or long-term sustainability in mind. Their insecurity is going to ruin capitalism. That’s fairly clear to me now. And I am not trying to come off like the didactic, staunch anti-capitalist that I am. I think that the last 15 years has proven that without much counter argument available. I’m not an economist, so maybe I am off base, but an economy that relies on human rationality is ultimately one designed around a fatal flaw and can only self destruct.

So this is why I don’t pay attention anymore, why I don’t read too many news articles anymore. This stuff does matter. It is important and everyone should be as informed as possible if they chose to participate. I am trying not to participate any longer. No government or corporation has my best interests in mind. How can they, they are mindless organizations? Nor do they care about the communities I, or anyone else are interested in. They can’t be, because contrary to what presidential hopeful Mitt Romney asserts, corporations are not people. They are not capable of , motivated by, or influenced under the guise of empathy.People, so far as we are aware, are the only creatures with empathy, or at least that can negotiate the emotions that surrounds empathy. Corporations, while made up of a collection of people, are often run by a small few, driven by the need for more money and the interests of their investors. Investors don’t care about people, they care about money. Governments, they are a problem as well. Honestly, one I just don’t have the energy at this point to rail against. Governments are big, stupid, children with short attentions spans and no insight. They gorge themselves because they don’t know what else to do. The people in government, from top to bottom, (save for the janitorial staff) are people who have bought the story fed to us in our state-run schools. They see a history and an ideology, pacified and cleaned over and they buy in. Most of them are well-intentioned people, just trying to make a living in this crazy world. Unfortunately, it all feeds into this shit. It’s sad really.

I’m done with this nonsense. Seriously. There is too much awesome stuff to do. This Summer Salt album is really peaceful and getting me psyched up and happy about life. I got some reading to do and it’s time to call my mom. Fuck the world outside, call your mom. Or your dad. Or someone you love. Do it. Right now. I’m not kidding. That shit matters. That shit has value.


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