Rat Stew by Gene Stewart
I got a Nike wrist band for Yule. It is a watch, showing the time, and strongly water resistant. In addition, it collects a set of data on how much one moves and reduces it to a Nike number they call Fuel, as well as showing estimated steps and calories burned.
Having lost major weight using a food & exercise log, I understand the principles and like them. My experience of the Nike wrist band is interesting, though, because the first level of monitoring feedback it offers are color-coded dots. They appear under the time when you press the button to check it. They range right to left from red through orange, yellow, and green. Getting into the green is good. Means you’ve moved a lot.
It is a simplified, even simplistic, system but I find this child-like gold-star motivation works in ways more complex metrics tracking does not.
When heads-up displays first came into use they overloaded cockpits and helmets with hyper-realistic 3D HUD imagery and data. They were for a brief time essentially high-density video game scenes.
This confused the pilots and tank drivers. Simple shapes and basic colors worked far better to impart needed information. Making the displays abstract and simple was the key to increasing efficiency and decreasing distraction and blur. Color-coded circles, squares, and triangles on X-Y grids worked better than photorealistic depictions of terrain.
This is the effect I’m experiencing. I’d much rather see red, orange, yellow, and green dots in a line to mark basic progress than continually monitoring numbers and complex data interplay. That they’ve reduced it to a glance lets some criticize Nike but it is intended as an aid and support system, not a substitute for the genuine data tracking needed for in-depth analysis.
Diabetics almost always stop monitoring their blood glucose levels after the novelty and doctors’ scare-tactics wear off. The medicos even call it Diabetic Fatigue because to label is to be able to charge for in our commodifying world.
I’d bet more diabetics would stick with it if the system dropped the numbers and adopted colored symbols. Eliminating the need for blood samples would help too; there exist finger-tip light sensors that measure blood glucose the way they do O2 levels, by how the light refracts. These passive sensors are not widely available yet; the whole diabetes support equipment industry is still too profitable, with all the flechettes, stick pens, monitors, monitor strips, (each with gold in them, which is why you see roadside home-made signs for people wanting to collect them), and so much else for them to keep peddling.
There are also light sleeves that show phlebotomists where veins are ripe for drawing blood, eliminating multiple sticks, pokes, and rooting around under the skin. Hospitals catering to the rich have these; the rest of us can wait or do without. Did that hurt?
Rich folks can also afford and are afforded complex blood/medicine analysis perfectly to adjust doses, med mixes, and to eliminate unwanted drug interactions. Insurance won’t cover this despite the many lives it would save and the reduction of unnecessary meds prescribed (sold).
Profits would fall, so forget it, and if poor people die, well, who’s gonna notice, right? Repeal Obamacare! More guns!
As my 56th birth month draws to a close my wife is flying back from business in DC, her ears messed up by cabin pressure, airplane flu making her miserable. She said it was a bumpy flight with weird, glowy high-altitude fog, possibly a layer of warmer air higher than usual.
I nearly wrote “temperature inversion”. This put me in mind of the 1948 smog disaster in Donora, Pennsylvania. It was blamed on a freak temperature inversion, one that happened neither before nor since. Turns out that explanation was bullshit. Most likely industrial malfeasance caused it, as we’ve seen recently so often in situations such as the West Virginia Freedom Industries water-destroying toxic dump or North Carolina’s Duke Power devastating the environment for decades with untold violations of EPA rules and basic common sense.
It amazes how so much we’re taught and taught to accept as fact and reality is really a tissue of lies screening crimes and horrors. Unsolved crimes are often kept that way to protect powerful interests. Mystery bleeds into mystification to keep the masses ignorant of how things work. This keeps them docile.
We live on the set of a movie we’re not being paid to act in, set-designed and directed by 1% shadows.
Stories about those who look past the movie set or seek to escape the studio altogether are a staple kind of thriller. All this kind of thinking as we’ve traversed above was used well in Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, ostensibly the account of a search for a mysterious movie director but really an exploration of our existential plight. His films are so upsetting they are repressed, shown only in informal gatherings in places such as the Paris or Rome catacombs or in NYC’s layers of sewers. People go mad at them.
Echoing almost the same thematic structure is Flicker by Theordore Roszak, about a director of horror films who may have depicted the genuinely uncanny. The deeper one tracks down the movies, the less real reality becomes.
There is a Paul Theroux novella, Half Moon Street, about a beautiful college girl who finances her schooling at the very best economics courses in England by becoming a high-priced prostitute. Call girl, she calls it. She caters to the powerful, wealthy men in her father’s circle of business ‘friends’. In this way she gains access to people who run the world, the 500 or 5000 who count, who matter, whose absence or death would have world-wide consequences and repercussions.
She fancies her chances of attaining such stature herself until, at a dinner party, a bit tipsy, she lets her aspiration slip out into general conversation. A man who is a member of the coveted elite scoffs and belittles first her lofty ambitions, then her. “You’re nothing but a rapidly-aging, slightly tatty peasant who makes her living with the little patch of fur she sits on,” is more or less how he puts it.
It shatters her confidence and she realizes she will never be anyone who ‘matters’.
In EYES WIDE SHUT, Tom Cruise’s character, a restless successful doctor who senses, and wants, more to life, realizes in the end that, although he’s had a glipse of the makers of the world he inhabits, he will never be invited, or tapped, to awaken to it, and so must return to the mundane sleep of a lesser life.
In Night Film the protagonist, reporter Scott McGrath, realizes he must stay no only on set in the studio but in the shadow-play of life’s flickering movie. He will never direct.
All the same theme, essentially a cry of angst.
Debussy wrote music, some programmatic, some metaphorical, on similar themes. He was a Rosicrucian and of the Golden Dawn, among other esoteric groups, as were many 19th Century composers, artists, and writers.
Are there such artists today, seeking to pull back the curtain to see the little man behind the great and powerful illusions?
A few might name Kubrick or hint at Hitchcock, even as they think of Cocteau and certainly Ingmar Bergman. Among the living, Thomas Pynchon might qualify, or Neal Stephenson perhaps.
PKD is dead, alas, and no one has yet taken his place, if anyone ever can.
Perhaps the modern age’s visionaries who see past reality’s false theatricality are scientists. Hawking, Penrose, and that ilk come to mind. Maybe they will be recognized as visionaries, as Einstein was, only in later times, after their Tesla-like advancement is caught up to.
Or could there be none today breaking on through to Jim Morrison’s other side?
Numinous art exists; we find it all the time. It is spread via internet along with all the dross and it’s our responsibility to see it if we can, to find what we can of it and draw others’ attentions to it.
Only then can a tipping point be reached, a threshold passed, leading to a greater awakening that might, if we’re lucky, let us see things more clearly as they are, rather than as they’ve been arranged for us in this simplified heads-up world.
Fri 28 Feb ’14
14:14 Central Time
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