Friday, December 11, 2020

The Many Different Kind Of Maskers: What Your Mask Says About You

When people first started wearing masks in response to Covid-19, they all looked the same to me. But the longer it’s gone on, the more I notice there are many different kinds of mask wearers. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but I can’t help thinking the way you wear your mask tells us a lot about you, too. Below are some of the many different types of mask-wearers I’ve encountered:

 The Noser: Apparently, the mask doesn’t make it all the way up to their nose. Or perhaps they are mouth breathers and aren’t aware that noses are used for breathing. I’m tempted to carry around a permanent marker and dot every exposed nose I see.

 The Chin Strapper: The number one way to stop the spread of a virus, according to them, is to cover up your chin. I believe they’ve had a life-long discomfort of airing their chins in public and have been looking for an excuse to don chinderwear.

 Hammockers: The mask is worn distanced from the face. In some cases, I have seen the straps attached to the glasses, allowing them to hang directly under their mouths. Apparently the theory is that Covid is very heavy and will fall from your mouth directly into the awaiting mask.

 Leaners: They wear a mask normally, but then they lean in when they want to tell you something and lower their mask to make sure you hear them.

 The Accessorizer: One who believes the purpose of the mask is not primarily to prevent the spread of a disease but to look good with whatever they’re wearing.

 The Neckbracer: Whatever it is they’re wearing as a mask makes them look like they’re waiting for the whiplash case to go to trial. This never even makes it as far as the chin, but merely sits around the neck.

 The NeckRomancer: Same as the Neckbracer but it is brought up over the nose. It reminds one of someone wearing a turtle neck to hide their hickies.

 Trick Or Treaters: Those who use a global pandemic as an excuse to dress in costume. Sometimes it’s just a giant smile that covers the mouth chin and nose, sometimes it covers the whole head like a ski mask.

 The Desperado: They’re rocking either the 19th Century bank thief or the person in the 21st Century that holds up a pharmacy to get their fentanyl fix look.

 The Patriot: They want to show how American they are by wearing faded or black and white flags on their buffs. They’ve lost their battle to not wear a mask, but they’re still representing their rebellious patriotism by disrespecting the flag.

 The Toucher: The guy who just can’t stop touching/adjusting his mask. In a matter of thirty seconds, you’ll see every part of his face that’s supposed to be covered, and he’ll touch every square inch of it with hands that like to touch everything else as much as his face.

 The Scrub Nurse: Looks like they’ve just stepped out of the E.R. after a grueling round of surgeries. The mask is in tatters, but damn if it’s not N95.

 Count Dracula: He forgot his mask and is self-conscious about it, so he’ll use his jacket to cover the lower part of his face while he talks to you.

 The Muzzled Dog: Acts as if they are being punished by being made to wear the mask and all joy has been sucked from their lives.

 The Hermit: The mask has made them hypersensitive to the risk of human contact, and it has made them unwilling to interact with anyone.

 The Streaker: This person has forgotten their mask and feels embarrassed.

 The Flasher: This person does not feel embarrassed that they don’t have their mask on.

 The Complainer: You can see them standing around in public places not wearing a mask talking to other people not wearing masks, saying how f-ed up it is that their aunt is sick in the hospital from Covid and isn’t allowed visitors. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Traveler And The Castle (An Allegorical Free Short Story)

  There was a traveler whose journeys caused him to walk the face of the earth. He had wandered many miles one day until he saw in the distance a mighty castle. Its walls were immense, its towers clawed at the sky. And as he approached it, a mist arose about him so that he felt there was some enchantment upon the castle. He wandered through the mist until he was so close to it that the castle again appeared to his sight. He stopped and stared at the impenetrable wall that stood on the other side of a moat, and when he heard a voice speak to him from the wall, he knew that the castle was indeed enchanted, for it was the wall itself that spoke

 “WE…are the Republicans,” cried the voice. “WE guard our mighty nation against outsiders. WE stand firm against any who would attack us. We keep safe all those who belong here. We maintain the traditions that allow our kingdom to endure.”

 “Indeed,” said the traveler. “I have never seen walls so impressive before, neither so deep nor so tall. And yet I notice that there are many who live outside your walls. Those who grow the food, those who build the roads that I have walked upon, those who tend to the animals, they all live outside of your mighty protection. A stranger such as myself might be led to believe that it is not the whole of the kingdom you protect but merely the royalty who live in luxury inside the castle, along with all the wealth that they have managed to hoard.”

 “If it were not for the royalty, there would be no kingdom,” said the wall. “And the wealth belongs to all. It just needs to be kept safe from those who would steal it, and from those who do not properly know how to manage it. But should we be attacked by other nations, we would allow the lesser folk to find sanctuary within us. We serve and love all who belong to our kingdom.”

 “Perhaps if the noblemen spent less on walls they might be able to better love the people who grow their food, make their clothes, tend their animals. And as for protecting those who live outside your wall in times of war, I’m inclined to believe that you send them out to fight those wars instead.”

The wall uttered indignant responses to the traveler, full of the weight and confidence one would expect from such a sturdy and immovable edifice. But the traveler was distracted by a light laughter like the sound of running water that slowly grew louder until it drowned out the pontifications of the wall.

 “Well said, traveler,” came a voice from below. “Unlike the wall, we do not fear those who come from afar but welcome them. We are well aware of what it is the wall protects, though it claims it stands for everyone.”

 The traveler looked down and saw that the voice seemed to come from the dancing waters that were in front of him.

 “And who might you be?” asked the traveler.

 “We are the Democrats,” said the ethereal voice, gaily, “and we are nothing like the Republicans.”

 “I can see that,” said the traveler. “You are the very opposite of a wall of stone. IT stands tall, while you modestly do not even quite rise to the height of the ground. IT is hard and imposing, while you are light and yielding and non-threatening.”

 “Yes,” said the laughing ripples, quite pleased with themselves, “nothing like Republicans at all.

 “And yet I cannot help but see that you serve the same purpose as they,” said the traveler. “You too circle the castle. You too protect those elite few on the inside rather than protecting the entirety of the kingdom. You too stand between the few and the many.”

 The waters roiled in displeasure, spilling over onto the traveler’s boots. But the traveler seemed not to notice, and continued:

 “And while at first glance there seems to be nothing threatening in your waters, if I look carefully I can see dangerous creatures swimming in your depths. Your purpose is not different than that of the Republicans, the only difference is that it is not so obvious.”

 The once-placid waters now became positively agitated, as though unseen creatures were swarming in menace below. The traveler waited, expecting a response. And soon a voice spoke, but it did not come from below him at his feet but rather from above.

 “What right do you have to speak such blasphemy?” said a voice full of authority and certainty.

 “I speak only of what I plainly see,” said the traveler. Looking up he beheld the source from which the voice came, the lofty towers that stood above him. “I mean no disrespect, but I am quite used to speaking frankly and see no reason why I should not do so now.”

 “Things are not always as they seem,” said the voice from above. “That is why we are here to explain the truth to those below, who have not the background to discern truth from lies.”

 “And who are you who can explain away what I can clearly see with my own eyes?”

 “We…,” said the voice, pausing for dramatic effect, “are the media. We sit above all so that we can report objectively the facts regardless of who it affects. Not only do we sit above the small lives of the ordinary people, our position gives us perspective you lack.”

 “And yet what I see is that those who claim to be supporting the people are clearly only protecting a few very privileged people. And not only are they only protecting the privileged few from outside attack, it seems like they are protecting them from the people themselves.”

 “You do not speak from wisdom. It is evident that you have been abroad and heard many strange stories from others who are hostile to our kingdom. Whether you know it or not, you are spreading dangerous ideas that will only hurt the people you say you care about. Leave it to us, the experts, to tell you how to see the truth. After all, we have a much better vantage point from up here. And we have direct access to those who rule this land, as well. We are in a position to see things as they are, not simply as they appear.”

 “That may be true,” said the traveler. “But how things appear is that you sit above others precisely because you see things in ways that benefit those who live within the castle. And you call out from your towers precisely the messages the royalty wants you to tell the people. And I suspect that should you cry out any but the official message of the royals, you would quickly be dragged from your lofty position and thrown outside the safety of the castle, and you would be replaced by someone who is willing to say exactly what the royalty wants them to say.”

 “Those are wicked words,” came the voice from tower. “It is clear that you have been traveling in strange lands and listening to the lies foreign leaders speak in order to weaken the trust of the people for their nobility, who only wish to do well for the people and the kingdom. It is best that you leave this land and never return.”

 “I am leaving now,” said the traveler. “But first I must tell you why I have come. I am here to tell you that from this day on the people outside your walls no longer have need of royalty or those who protect them and make their pronouncements. If you wish to speak to the people, you must come down from your towers to speak to them. And you must not merely speak to them but listen and respond to them as well. If you claim to protect the people, you must do more than defend the few who profit from their labor. Instead of forcing them to build walls and moats and towers, you must allow the people to build useful things for themselves. And you must give them time to do what they will. And you must cease your endless worrying pronouncements from your towers so that they have time to listen to their own thoughts.”

 “Begone, you spreader of lies!” and this time it was a chorus of voices coming from the towers, the moat, and the wall. The booming voice of the wall, which was once paternal, had now become threatening. The light and motherly voice of the waters was now shrill unto shrieking. And the academic voice that came from the tower, that before had sounded like a caring teacher, now spoke like a judge rendering a guilty verdict.

 “I have said my peace,” said the traveler. “I will go.”

 But the voices were not done. As he turned to go they shouted at his back. “We will never leave our castle,” they cried. “We are safe here. None can assail us. You are a fool!”

 At this, the traveler turned around.

 “Stay, then, in your castle. You will be safe there. The people will not attack you. The people are done with you. Keep your gold, which is worthless to the average person. Let it sit in your castle as it once sat in the tremendous tombs of the ancient leaders. It shall be reclaimed one day—just as the gold of the pharaohs was reclaimed—long after you and your kind have faded into history.”

 “The people need us!” cried the voices. “Other kingdoms will attack them and they will be destroyed without our protection.”

 “Yours is not the first kingdom I have visited,” said the traveler. “Other kingdoms will not attack the people of this one because the people of the other kingdoms no longer do the bidding of those who hide behind walls and moats and towers and send people to war. There is no longer need for castles, except as monuments to past ways.”

 The traveler turned again and the voices grew silent. It was an ominous silence, so complete that the traveler could hear the arrow whistling through the air before it pierced his back.

 It was a pointless act of violence, the traveler thought, for he had already spread his message throughout the kingdom before he came to warn those who lived within the castle. It was the last act of a desperate, dying mentality of hatred. As his consciousness faded from him the last thing he could hear was the deluded laughter and boasting of those who sat within their own tomb.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Weekend Without Internet

I left the house recently for a weekend cabin-in-the-woods getaway with the express purpose of leaving all connected devices behind.

 It almost didn’t happen. I found as many excuses to bring something with as Bilbo found for not leaving his ring behind. But in the end my inner Gandalf convinced me that it had gotten too great a hold of me. And so my wife and I headed north in my car that lacks even a CD player, relying on the spotty reception from small town radio for any kind of news from the outside world.

 Not that I had planned on leaving it ALL behind me, of course. It was my little experiment, not my wife’s, so she had her cell phone. And the cabin had advertised it had Netflix and Amazon Prime. What with a pandemic going on and deer season just starting, I knew our options for amusement would be limited. We’re not the kind of people to spend a day binge-watching, but with the woods and crowded areas both potentially lethal we had a good excuse for such an indulgence.

 When we arrived at our cabin, I went almost immediately to the television in order to acquaint myself with someone else’s setup. It’s never a simple task: I was faced with four remote controls, one containing 57 buttons, the second 35, the third 29, with the Roku remote mercifully having less than a dozen. Included with them was a list of instructions written by someone who was never going to be hired for a tech writing position. 

I spent an hour of my time—in a cabin, on a lake, in the woods—engaged in the very same stressful, tedious and yet oddly addictive behavior from which I had attempted to flee. And in the end, for whatever reason, I was unable to get an internet connection. Not that I didn’t try. I engaged hopefully—earnestly—in what can only be described as technological ritual. Even when I came to realize that the communion with the great other was not going to take place, I religiously performed the instructions, engaged in the holy rites which summon the spirits from their mysterious dwellings to appear before us and work their miracles. After all, belief is vital if we are to please the gods of technology enough to have them do our bidding.

 Fortunately, my wife was there to urge me to let go, my faithful Sam who was with me at the moment of my final temptation. And in the end, I was able to let it go. No longer desiring to harness the awesome might of a power beyond my reckoning, I had passed the test and remained Galad—I mean, James. 

But ridding oneself from a crutch means relearning to walk naturally again. I found myself in moments where I would ordinarily turn to some device for distraction, only to find there was no ring to gently caress. I had to relearn the art of talking with another human being. I had to relearn the art of listening to that inner voice inside of me. It was a little unnerving because even though I had spent the better part of my life without the internet, it all seemed so far away from me now. But over the course of a weekend, I was able to rediscover a bit of who I was before the internet changed me. Changed everybody.

 Having seen pictures of the cabin when we chose it, I knew it had a record player, and so had unearthed some albums from the deep recesses of our basement. What’s more, I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather eclectic collection of LPs at the cabin, as well. From the cabin’s library, I sampled Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Nat King Cole’s Rambling Rose, early RollingStones, and even Marlo Thomas and Friends (you’d have to be of a certain age to know this one). I listened to a whole side of Paul McCartney’s Ram in order to get to Admiral Halsey. I never would have listened to those other songs otherwise, not in an age where the opportunity to fast-forward is always there. 

It was a pleasant, relaxing experience. I think that’s what listening to music is supposed to be like, but in the age of instant access to everything, even listening to music has the potential to cause anxiety and impatience. I often start a song only to get the urge to click another song after a minute into it. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a tendency online to move endlessly from one item to another without ever fully appreciating anything I hear, see, or read. This has led to a dull sense of never being satisfied, with always wanting more, always hoping the next thing will be the one that gives me what I want. It never does. Hence my desire to reconnect to the world I knew before the instant non-gratification the internet provides.

 We humans have a tendency to want to escape, to run away. But too often we carry with us that which we wish to be free from. So long as we have our cell phones with us, we can never distance ourselves from the habit of mindless scrolling and searching. If I had had access to the internet, I know I would not have found what I had been looking for. My inner state of being would be no different whether I was being eternally prompted by external electronic stimuli at home or in a cabin. But cut off from the great distracter that is always looking for our attention, I was paradoxically able to find a bit of myself and my past in a place that I had never been.

 The fight is not over, but I have been given a brief respite and a reminder of what life was like in the before time. The internet can change our lives for the better if we are careful, but it can change our lives for the worse if we are not.

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

All Aboard The Monkey Train

Once upon a time there was a train that travelled from one end of our country to the other. It was a typical journey, one made many times before, so none of the passengers thought anything about it.

But the company in charge of the rail line and the trains was seeking ways to increase profits, so they cut a few corners and let a few safety issues slide. For one thing, they got rid of the unionized work force and replaced it with monkeys. Yes, real monkeys. It’s hard to figure out what they were thinking, but the monkeys did work for next to nothing, so costs were reduced to a few bunches of bananas.

At first the passengers dared not allow themselves to believe what they saw. Nobody could be so stupid and greedy as to staff their trains with an all-monkey crew. Surely there must be some actual human beings in the engine room and in other critical areas. After all, this train had taken the journey many times and there had never been any major incidents before. At least, none of the passengers recalled seeing anything about it in the news. And so they all remained silent, pushing their concerns and fears down, distracting themselves with the video screens that were provided by the train company. These, at least, were in fine working order.

But as the train began to pull away from the station and pick up steam, the sound of the train was not at all healthy. It sounded like wheels and gears might fall off the train at any moment. But as loud as the clattering was, the sound of the chattering of monkeys could still be heard.

Until eventually the sound got to be too much for one of the passengers. He stood up from his seat and told the other passengers of his concerns if they didn’t do anything. But all it took was one passenger to call him crazy before everyone on his side of the train took up the chant “crazy man, crazy man.” Those sitting beside him had no desire to get in between the man who warned against their danger and the crowd on the other side of the aisle who called him crazy. After all, they were just on the train to get from point A to Point B. This wasn’t their fight, and besides, they were deeply engrossed in the movies they were watching on their screens. And so when the crowd from the other side of the train grabbed the man and threw him from the train, it was rather easy for them to get back to watch their Avengers movie or Two And A Half Men episode, or whatever it was that helped them wile away the time until they eventually reached their destination. They put their listening devices back into their ears and turned up the volume.

But truth be told, they could never fully block out the screeching of the wheels or the monkeys. It wasn’t as relaxing a trip as they all let on.

But before too long, the video one passenger was watching malfunctioned, and he was left alone with nothing but the squealing machinery and moronic mouthings of monkeys to occupy his attention. Until he could stand it no more and he rose to his feet, saying what everyone was thinking but nobody was willing to admit.

And this time, the man’s wife arose with him.

When one had spoken up, they considered him a madman. But when two spoke up, they called it a nuisance. It was a couple from the side that had dumped the last person off the train. And belonging to the same crowd, this group had no desire to toss one of their own off the train. But they still weren’t real happy about the disturbance. So when a group from the other side of the train grabbed the couple and bound and gagged them, nobody did anything.

But that was not the end of it. A little further into the journey, a dozen had gotten up the courage to speak out. Perhaps it was not courage so much as they were unable to live with the noise anymore. Now if one person was considered mad and two people were considered a nuisance, a dozen was considered a threat. This could perhaps lead to a shutting down of the train entirely, and that would be an inconvenience to everyone involved. The train had made this journey many times before, surely this time would be no different. All they had to do was silence the mob before it got out of hand.

But this time it was not so simple. There were people from both sides of the train clamoring for people’s attention. And even as they did so, more people turned down the volume on the shows they had been watching in order to see what the fuss was about. And doing so, they heard the shrieking of the wheels and the mad chatter of the monkeys that pretended to be running things when they had no understanding but only attitude.

Looking out the window, they saw they were approaching a bridge that had collapsed and not been repaired. And looking around the people on the right side of the aisle and the left side of the aisle, the people seated in front and the people in the back, all realized they were on the same train together and would share the same fate.

Were they able to stop the train before it plunged to ruin into a gorge? Were they able to wrest the control of the train away from the monkeys? I cannot say, but at the very least it could be said that they finally got off their dead asses, took control, and gave it a try.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

This Is What The Resistance Looks Like

Their first strike was when they donned hats and missed brunch to attend a rally:

Then they let people know they were offended by Trump's vulgar ways:

Using art as a weapon of the rebellion, they showed they would not tolerate men reducing women to mere sex objects and body shaming anyone who had a less than idealized physique:

They created art to show that love is love and that homosexuality was not something that should be used to mock people:

In order to win the hearts and minds of the people they showed that, unlike Trump,  they weren't xenophobes with an irrational fear of people from other countries:

Obama's and HRC's communication director
Unlike Trump and his supporters who pushed ridiculous conspiracy theories, the Resistance stuck to the facts. Because facts matter: 

These were not mere token displays of resistance, these were meaningful, impactful acts of protest: 

And when it came time to take a stance on police violence, the Democrats got real: 

They worked to build alliances with other rebel factions:

Of course, when the nation's leaders needed to come together to deal with the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic, the Resistance showed that they were able to work with the Republicans to help the average American. Because the Senate was the check on the emperor's power: 

Yes, the Democrats had a master strategy for success. That's why, when it came time to take Trump down in the 2020 election, they knew they needed a special kind of firebrand to handle the job, a man with bold new ideas and the kind of fire in the belly that would be required to stand up to Trump:

It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's hoping these pictures have inspired you to take up the flag of resistance and carry it into victory in November. Because when Trump's gone, everything will once again be as it should:

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

An Apology To A Cardinal (And To Birds In General)

At six o’clock Saturday morning I heard the song of a cardinal. I thought it rude of him to be so noisy so early in the morning and felt that he owed me an apology for waking me up on my day off. But by 9 o’clock as I was hanging my laundry to dry, hoping to enjoy a peaceful morning, my tranquility was disturbed by a neighbor’s air compressor, and another neighbor’s motorcycle. At that point I understood it was we humans who owed him an apology.

Soon after, I took my bike for a ride, the streets for the better part silent due to the pandemic. I heard a woodpecker at work, as well as the calls of other birds I could not recognize. Like many of my kind, I have spent more time in factories than I have in nature. I can recognize the voices of countless celebrities, but few birds, can tell you who sang thousands of songs I don’t even like, but can put a beak to very few bird songs.

But in the relative silence, I hear many birds’ voices now. They seem to be speaking to me, asking if we cannot maintain the silence we’ve been engaged in of late. I would be glad to oblige, but my voice too gets drowned out by the noises of the factories and the voices on the radio and television. My voice is heard no more than the birds, and is far less appealing.

Sadly, I know what is coming. In a matter of weeks. When the summer they have waited so long for will hit full stride, not only will the countless aural annoyances civilization has produced return in full force, but another horror will be unleashed upon them. The 4th of July is not far away, a time when children and adults alike will be playing with their trauma-inducing fireworks. I feel bad enough for my dog, who slinks down into the cold, dark basement every time one surprises her. But the birds have nowhere to go. Their homes, their places of safety, are the trees, and they are no refuge from the noise and the explosions.

Still and all, I am amazed they are willing to take up residence in my neighborhood. I’m amazed at how much nature still exists in the places where we’ve done our best to pave it over. I look out front to see the birds gathered around the feeder I had bought for my mother and inherited when she passed. There are many times I look back and think of how I could have done more for my mom, but in this instance, I feel that I gave her a special gift. I think of her alone, as I am now, listening to all the sounds of birds, appreciating the beauty and joy nature provides. I hope that someday when I am home-bound, someone thinks to place a bird feeder near my window.

It is an amazing thing to travel far to see the natural wonders of the world, but there is something equally beautiful in appreciating the little miracles that flutter around us.

If they could just sleep in a little later. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Does Genius Exist In The 21st Century?

There are people so brilliant that their genius can be detected in a single one-sentence quotation. Read a random quote from Oscar Wilde, for example. 

There are people so intelligent that their brilliance is apparent in virtually every single thing they say or write. Pick up any novel, short story, or essay by Jack London and be prepared to be impressed. 

The genius of some people bleeds over from their areas of expertise into whatever subject they speak on. Einstein is one such person. I can’t even begin to understand what he’s saying when it comes to physics, but he manages to impress me when he speaks about the human condition or politics, among other things. 

In short, when I see genius, I don’t have to have someone tell me how brilliant that person is: it hits me on a visceral level.

I have never read a quote from Bill Gates that in the least impressed me. Perhaps he is a genius when it comes to developing software, I’ll leave that to people more versed in the field than I. But when it comes to stepping outside his area of expertise, he does not impress me in the slightest. The only thing I’ve witnessed is the mutterings of a mediocre mind. I’ve read his book suggestions and not once have I seen a book among them that suggested Bill Gate’s reading list has anything of value to offer society.

So why is his name mentioned at all when it comes to the current pandemic? Has he gone back to school and finally got a degree in something, in medicine or virology perhaps? Why should I or anyone else care what he has to say? Who made him an authority on anything, and why does the world require his leadership? Who are today's arbiters of genius?

In fact, I would go as far to say that there is not a single person in the public eye at present who demonstrates anything I would say is clear, unmistakable genius. Thomas Friedman is always being held up before me as a great thinker. He can be clever, I’ll give him that. But his cleverness is more often used to rationalize than to elucidate. And history, I'm convinced will not be kind to his central theses.

Who else do we see on television or in print that could even be considered for the designation of “genius”? Neil deGrasse Tyson? Again, he’s assuredly intelligent in his field, but does that intelligence translate outside of it? A huge step up from Bill Gates, but hardly comparable to an Einstein, who was in turn also a much greater figure in science. Who, then?

I am almost tempted to turn to comedians to fill the void. They alone seem to be able to look beyond the rather narrow parameters of vision current society is stuck in. Among them, among those the mainstream admits exists, I would point to John Stewart as the closest there is. And he, sadly, has bowed out of the public eye, perhaps realizing that the public eye was winking shut on anyone willing to stare boldly at the truth of things. Not too long ago, I would have included Stephen Colbert, but the last couple years have shown that there is something lacking in him that anyone who might be considered to have genius must possess. A person of genius must be uncompromising in looking at the heart of the matter, of getting to the truth no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular the truth might be. That is not Stephen Colbert.

Where then, can we find the thoughts of genius we need in order to elevate our own thinking, and in turn elevate the way we interact with and improve the world in which we live? Fortunately, we can reach back in time, for the past is replete with the collected thoughts of those in touch with genius. To list a few would show my biases, but you can’t go wrong with the classics. You really have not need to go past the age of Christ to find genius from many sources around the world.

But is genius to be forever relegated to that past? Is there no room for it here in the 21st Century? The answer is no, there is not. At least it is not to be found in corporate media. Think about it: how many times have you heard the voices of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi on television? If the media cannot even acknowledge accepted genius, what chance is there they will ever permit the voices of present genius?

Genius does exist, however. It exists where it has always existed in eras where the truth is avoided because it contradicts authority: on the periphery. Not only does it exist, I’d go so far to say it is thriving. Again, I could list a lot of names of people who impress me with not only their intelligence but also with their determination to pursue truth beyond the stagnant accepted parameters. I could go with a well-seasoned mind like Chris Hedges, or youngish but vibrant minds like Niko House or Jamarl Thomas. If you want your intelligence and integrity to be served up with a healthy dose of humor, I’d say Jimmy Dore.

But if you want my pick for someone whose writing belongs beside any acknowledged voice of genius throughout history, I’d go with Caitlin Johnstone. She is everything I mentioned in the first paragraph. You can detect genius in a single sentence. You can see it sparkle in just about anything she writes. And while she is prolifically writing daily political articles, you see her genius spill over into her poetry, her drawings, her philosophical, psychological, and spiritual musings.

Check her out. See what genius looks like in the 21st Century. Because you’re not going to find it in the Washington Post or CNN.