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The Era Of Approved Dissent

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Guns N Roses Frontman Axl Rose was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of assault and one misdemeanor count of property damage for the role he played in instigating a riot in St. Louis in 1991. He dove headfirst off of the stage and into the crowd to attack a man with a camera and then left the stage mid-concert. This angered the crowd and sparked a rebellion. Months later, when Rose returned to the states from a European tour, he was arrested at the airport. Axl Rose came under fire again in 1992 and was accused of homophobia for having used the word “faggot” in one of his lyrics. In the late 80s and early 90s, Rose was notorious for the use of controversial lyrics, getting arrested, and being a rebel.

By the early 2000s, as Axl Rose’s star faded, rap star Eminem ascended to take his place as the new controversial lyrical artist and troublemaker. What both men had in common is that they were probably the last true mega stars to have been true rebels. Neither artist was readily associated with any cause or social movement. In fact, like Madonna most of the time, it appeared they were being controversial, just to be controversial. Some of it may have been immaturity, drug induced behavior, or the result of a toxic combination of the trappings of fame and misguided youth. Certainly marketing was part of the mix. The result was that the controversy sold records. The polarization of their songs and actions is what stood out.

In 2021, one can’t help but realize that far too many artists have replaced polarization with conformity. Take the latest “controversy” over the news that Nicki Minaj is hesitant to be vaccinated. She revealed she is waiting and doing more research and she shared a story of people who she knows who have had adverse reactions. She has every right to feel however she wants and to express herself regarding this matter in whatever way she chooses. That her very reasonable response to not getting a vaccine is controversial is laughable when compared to say… starting a riot or sending a Native American woman to accept your Oscar award as a protest the way Marlon Brando once did.

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Minaj’s tweet about the subject left those longing for the days of rock n roll and artistic rebellion a little disappointed. She wrote: “If I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with 2 strings that grips your head & face. Not that loose one.” A missed opportunity for sure. Our increasingly conformist and authoritarian society longs for a time when artists were controversial and didn’t try to softly land their positions as Minaj does here with a nod to mask wearing. What happened to the Rage Against The Machine Mentality of “F&#Ck You I Won’ t Do What You Tell Me!” What happened to the music of liberation, the sound and lyrics of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, James Brown? Where is the spirit of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and NWA?

While most rational people understand that the actions and words of such artists are frequently grounded in hyperbole, and just plain offensive, most also understand that there are usually one or more kernels of truth in such works. This makes it entertaining. Some of the best art illuminates an injustice, uncomfortable truth, or articulates someone else’s hypocrisy uniquely. Until recently, it seemed rather common for an artist to lambast a national politician, a corporate figure, or law enforcement. One is hard pressed to find a recent song questioning our 20 year misadventure in Afghanistan, the militarization of the police departments, election fraud, lockdowns, social distancing, mask mandates, or forced vaccinations. We know that people, and certainly artists, have strong opinions on these matters, regardless of their position. Eric Clapton and Van Morrison recently collaborated on an anti-lockdown tune, but to little attention from the corporations. Perhaps many artists have found it easier to send a tweet than to write a clever lyric.

Today’s radio waves don’t have a Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” or a Joan Baez protesting for social or political change. Everything just feels corporate, quadrate, as if everything we see and hear has been approved in some boardroom. The truth is, it probably has been. Dissent is quickly purged from social media and the major television networks. We are living in an age of “Approved Dissent.” If you are protesting perceived racism, sexism, or police brutality, the protest is parroted by the mainstream corporate and social media. Protest an election result, a mask mandate, or a forced vaccination and you will get very little to no air time unless it is to paint you as a deranged conspiracy theorist.

Perhaps artists have figured this out. In the year 2021, the age-old question of “does life imitate art or does art imitate life?” has been answered. As approved dissent devolves into approved art, we see art imitating life.

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Conservative Justices are Still in Danger. Joe Biden Could Change That Today

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United States Supreme Court

Just because the Supreme Court ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade has finally been issued, it doesn’t mean the lives of the court’s conversative justices are any safer from pro-abortion extremists.

The President could immediately use the bully pulpit to minimize any threat to the lives of those sitting on the bench. It’s something he should have done weeks ago but should certainly do in the wake of the Dobbs. v. Jackson ruling.

Here’s the question that needs to be asked of President Biden or his spokesperson today:

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“As you know, a man with the intent to kill Justice Kavanaugh was arrested outside his home a few weeks ago. The pro-choice group, Jane’s Revenge, has committed many recent acts of violence and is now threatening a night of rage in response to today’s SCOTUS ruling. If, God forbid, a pro-choice extremist were to assassinate a sitting justice, how would the President think about filling such a vacancy?”

That answer should be simple:

“Obviously, this is a horrible hypothetical which reasonable Americans of all parties hope never comes to fruition. That said, it’s a fair question given today’s heated political climate and one he has thought about deeply. In such a terrible situation, the President would nominate a new appointee that looks as much like the deceased justice as possible. Beliefs, age, temperament – all of it. Were a conservative justice to suffer such harm, the President would ask Republicans to find that matching replacement, whom he would then nominate. Those rare, few extremists who might think to do harm to sitting members of the court must know they will never gain a political advantage through such an act of violence. I would hope that leading Republicans would make a similar pledge regarding the next time they hold the White House, that this thinking will become the unwritten and well understood rule here in D.C.. It is one of the few concepts that members of both parties should be able to commit to with full voice.”

This message has to be plain and, given the political climate, it must be stated ASAP.

Would a Biden white house make such a statement? Doubtful, given the left’s tacit support of the violence it likes through its refusal to condemn Jane’s Revenge, BLM riots, etc.

So be it. If Joe Biden won’t answer the question clearly, it should then be forced upon him. How?

By asking the same hypothetical of all leading national GOP figures. Take this same question straight to Trump, DeSantis, Noem, Haley, etc. and let’s see what they say.

I have a lot of hope they would all answer that question correctly and convincingly, but let’s find out.

Joe Biden told us he would be a unifying figure. Is he capable of finally delivering on that promise for the first time, at a moment when it’s needed most?

*Photo credit: @davidlat at FreeImages

P.S. I haven’t written in a while but these articles have aged pretty darn well, if I do say so myself:

BBQs Cook Fish, Too — Beware the Weber, Trager IPOs

When the Market Crashes, There is Only One Place to Hide

I’ll be back with more on markets soon…

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Tech Tools Leading to Our Fast-Forward Future

Researchers will likely develop nearly every tech tool you’ve seen in science-fiction movies and television

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Lowell Catlett, a retired professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, observes that all the high tech products on your desk and in your home will soon be antiques from a capability stand point. The almighty chip grows smaller and more powerful, and thanks to advanced microscopics, they’re proceeding towards a time in which the chip will be no thicker than a fraction of a human hair. In fact, microscopic motors today are no thicker than a human hair!

A World of Marvels

Scientists and engineers will likely soon develop nearly every technology you’ve ever seen in sci-fi movies, Superman comics, and all of the versions of Star Trek. Many miraculous breakthroughs are available now, but simply are not cost-effective for the masses. Existing sunglasses – far beyond the ill-fated Google Glass – allow you to watch any television show while you’re wearing them, wherever you are.

As “sun glass” technology is perfected, future models can be built right into your eye. You’ll automatically have protection from sun glare as daylight levels change. Laser technology in sunglasses for U.S. Air Force pilots will enable them to fire missiles or operate plane controls through their eye movements!

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Professor Catlett says, “Once you combine laser and computer technology, you’re able to read smart books – books that know when you’ve lingered on a word and hence, don’t understand its meaning.” So, then and there, while you’ve got your magic sunglasses on and are reading this book, a synonym pops up on the screen.

Instant Updates

Well-funded fire and police departments will equip each of their officers with such sunglasses to instantaneously give them updated information in the field. A firefighter entering a burning building could be told to turn left to safety, rather than right. A police officer could be told that the bridge is out 50 yards ahead and to take a hard right into the sandbank.

One day, politicians will be fitted with such technology. A new algorithm for identifying thumb prints, ten times faster than what currently exists, is nearly ready. Hence, about 30 seconds after you look at someone across a room his name will spell out in the corner of one of your lenses. No more forgetting old what’s-his-name.

Every sales force worth its salt will be outfitted with such lenses. Imagine, you walk into a new company, you don’t know a soul, and soon enough you’re greeting everyone by his/her first name. Until the technology is widely known, you’ll be regarded as some type of wizard.

Think Your Way Through It

The electronic headband, an emerging product, allows you to think your way to everything you want to do in your home. Sitting in your armchair, you’ll be able to lock the doors. You’ll be able to start your coffee maker. Want the television on or off? You’ve got it. Same with the lights. Refrigerator door. Windows up or down.

If you want to write a letter to your sister in Des Moines, you’ll only need to think the letter. You’ll be able to “program” your personal computer, write, and e-mail the message simply through your thoughts.

Soon, jet pilots flying billion dollar planes will be able to sit in the cockpit, think about what they want to do next, and have the plane be totally responsive. “Ultimately,” says Catlett, “machinery will be totally user-friendly. No instructions, no need to speak, no need to do anything, just think what you want to do.”

The Ubiquitous Computer

The world will enter a stage of the “ubiquitous computer.” Computers will be all around you, anywhere you go, built into the side of walls. They’ll be so powerful and all encompassing that they’ll be virtually invisible.

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