Showing posts with label lockdowns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lockdowns. Show all posts

Sunday, August 29, 2021

I Saw That Puzzle

Cartographer John Spilsbury carved out a unique invention in 1766 when he cut a wooden map into an array of curved pieces as an educational toy. Since then an endless number of ‘jigsaw puzzles’ have been created in different sizes and shapes but the general overall concept remains so simple and effective that it has rarely changed in 200 years.

Nevertheless, the original wooden puzzles were soon created from cardboard and cut with a fretsaw (not a jigsaw). In the 1930s, hydraulic presses were employed in their manufacturing for increased mass production. During the Great Depression, jigsaw puzzles boomed in popularity and became a ubiquitous household item among adults as well as kids.

Later, roller presses replaced the larger expensive hydraulic machines used in the puzzle making for many years. Today puzzle sizes can range from 300 to 40,000 pieces.

"Jigsaw Puzzle Blues" by Fleetwood Mac

According to Wikipedia, jigsaw puzzles recently surged in popularity during Covid lockdowns. It’s a testament to the timeless and enduring appeal of a classic recreational hobby the world continually returns to time and again. Nothing really puzzling about that.

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Christopher Robinson

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Future Warnings

Indoctrination schooling, cancel culture, tech dominance, history erasure, government-dictated media, de-platforming— nightmarish
realities seemingly emerging without any precedent or justification. No one had foreseen the arrival of any of these disturbing trends, no one except perhaps, Eric Arthur Blair, later to be known by the pseudonym George Orwell.

Born in India to European parents in 1903, Orwell studied in England before serving with the colonial police in Burma in 1922. Resigning in 1928, Orwell retreated to the slums of London and Paris, living a willfully meager existence as a conscious reaction to his personal attitudes on his experiences in Burma. This inspired his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, published in 1933.

The Road to Wigan Pier, published in 1937, cemented Orwell’s socialist agenda while he enlisted in the militia of the Spanish Civil War. These experiences soon inspired Orwell’s newfound fears regarding communism which he expounded on in Homage to Catalonia, published in 1938.

In 1943, Orwell became literary editor of the socialist newspaper, The Tribune. The novella Animal Farm followed, which allegorically depicted the Russian Revolution with an array of farm animals. This paved the way for the work his name would forever be synonymous with. Nineteen Eighty-four, published in 1949, addressed the threat of Nazism and totalitarianism in a not-so-distant future.

In the novel, the story’s protagonist clashes with a draconian government which alters and censors previous accounts of history and monitors citizens by employing ‘Thought Police’ who seek to brainwash and eradicate any elements of individuality. Orwell’s greatest contribution to literature would also be his last. He succumbed to tuberculosis in London in 1950 at 46.

To now say that Nineteen Eighty-four fortuitously prophesied present developments is an arguable understatement. A rapidly evolving political climate where any dissent from those in power is immediately labeled as “misinformation” and even “immoral” obviates how many of Orwell’s 20th Century fears have been realized thus far.

The symbiotic development of these ideas within one year of Covid lockdowns can’t be chalked up to coincidence. A grimly premeditated power grab has clearly been made by those eager to take advantage of a dire global crisis.

Ironically, young Americans whose predecessors once burned draft cards have moved on to burning books. Presently, one wouldn’t exactly be alarmist to imagine Orwell’s work itself as the next pile on the bonfire.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

Will their utopia become your dystopia? By George, let’s hope not.

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Christopher Robinson

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Leaving the Building

Americans are beginning to see some of the effects that state lockdowns have had on local businesses. In many cases they either couldn’t adapt to the crisis for one reason or another or they lost too much time and revenue to pay their rent, utilities, workers etc.

One of my favorite local diners looks to have been resolutely affected by this crisis and will probably not reopen as the business that it had been for thirty years or so. It’s one more sad and disappointing reminder of how the country has been economically devastated in a variety of ways.

I can’t say that I have too many memories of the place but- wait! An odd reminiscence now comes to mind.

A local detective once told me that she had recently responded to a police call at the diner because one of the customers thought they saw Elvis Presley there(!) I found this to be slightly perplexing since Elvis sightings would seem to be low in critical nature within my limited understanding of police prioritization.

In any case, I don’t think the person in question turned out to be Elvis, nor did I believe it could even be possible.

The site of the alleged incident boasted a decent salad bar and reasonably-priced lunch and dinner specials but no all-you-can-eat deep-fried starch-fest that one would logically expect to be fit for the King. Besides, if it was him, what exactly were they prepared to do?

This, of course, is all in accordance with a notorious long-standing supposition that the 42 year-old star never passed away 43 years ago(last week)on August 16th, 1977. But- were it true anyway, could an out-of-state police charge someone with a felony for faking their own death in another place, twenty-five years earlier?

  • Do logic and reason become blurred when something fantastic is at stake?
  • Do rules often leave you confused?
  • How do you determine which to follow... and which to flout?
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    Christopher Robinson

    Friday, July 17, 2020

    Cruising for Love

    One industry that seems to have been hit considerably hard by the pandemic lockdowns is that of the passenger cruise lines. New cases of Covid-19 among many Carnival and Disney crew members has led to an extension of sailing hiatuses for most lines until the end of the year with full capacity operations on hold till at least next year.

    For the time being, those setting a course for adventure, their minds on a new romance will have to settle for weekly reruns of one beloved and slightly unusual TV show.

    Airing for a successful nine seasons on CBS, The Love Boat debuted following three TV movies that introduced its stories centered aboard the Pacific Princess cruise liner to audiences in 1976. Produced by network wiz Aaron Spelling, Love Boat was unique as an hour-long sitcom that featured a well-cast crew of likable regulars who interacted with legendary guest stars, generally playing the ship’s romance-seeking cruise guests. Though additional cast members would appear as the series progressed, most of the original regulars remained throughout the series run.

    Gavin MacLeod memorably portrayed Captain Merrill Stubing, the ship’s respected father figure and boss who is curiously never seen checking in with the bridge or consulting with deputy captains or officers. Instead, Stubing ignores all ship personnel with the exception of a cheery cruise director(Lauren Tewes), a wry yeoman purser(Fred Grandy), a sagacious ship doctor(Bernie Kopell) and a jovial bartender(Ted Lange). Stubing’s chief responsibilities seem to consist of roaming the deck to pry into his guests’ personal matters while sporting his magnificent tan.

    By the third season, Jill Whelan joined the cast as Stubing’s lovable daughter Vicki. In the show’s final season, someone hatched the dastardly plan to feature a recurring team of Vegas-style showgirls dubbed The Love Boat Mermaids, who routinely took to the stage to assault evening dinner crowds with atrocious Flashdance-inspired song and dance abominations. All of it, of course, was done in the name of mindless escapism, with an emphasis on consistently light comedy and drama which was balanced in a crafty manner that kept its viewers amused and engaged.

    The show’s sexual subtext is surprisingly more obvious than one might recall as the situations and dialogue prove that the preoccupation with sex on shows like The Love Boat were just as prominent as in shows today, if not more so. The difference is the veiled manner in which the era required it to be addressed as opposed to the blunt and direct language now permitted in entertainment accessible to all ages.

    Sex does, in fact, seem to be a primary motivation for Stubing’s bachelor crew(Doc, Gopher and Isaac in particular), who chase skirts as though they’ve been away at sea for year-long solitary voyages.

    Even as the stories’ middle-aged guest stars trade one-liners and witty banter by poolside, a parade of young scantily-clad women and men, otherwise never seen on the ship, conspicuously flaunt their bods in the near background while posing awkwardly atop the uncomfortable perimeter of the soundstage pool careful to avoid any noise or splashing.

    The Love Boat’s enduring appeal may, in fact, be the impressive roster of Hollywood greats, some making final appearances, who sadly, are now mostly gone. Even more sad is noticing the many ostensibly unknown young actors and actresses appearing alongside the famous veterans who had perhaps hoped and worked towards stardom that never came, despite frequent television exposure.

    Very few of the younger guest stars were, in fact, recognizable names whereas nearly all of their older co-stars had already achieved success long before. It poignantly exemplifies just how short-lived and unrealized television careers can actually be for the average actor.

    Well, If all this has properly primed you for a bon voyage then I’m sorry to say you’ll have to remain ashore for a spell. Until then, the next best thing can batten down the hatches for the real deal.

    Do you sometimes need to see the world through media as a substitute for being there?

    In any case, good luck and save me a place at the Captain’s table!

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    Sunday, July 12, 2020


    If you listen to fools, the mob rules.
                                --Black Sabbath

    Symbols are undeniably useful tools in our world. They serve an unlimited array of purposes and the universal power they hold are obviated in their ubiquitous presence throughout all regions and cultures. They offer a means of communication without words or sound and can often convey more than that which is voiced or written.

    Symbols play integral roles in everything from the signage of traffic safety to recognizable brand marketing to the identifiable representation of corporations, restaurants, sports teams and popular music bands. In many cultures, especially that of indigenous peoples, symbols go hand-in-hand with written and spoken language.

    Arguably, one of the most classic of all symbols is the peace symbol, which in the 1950s, was initially designed during British nuclear disarmament campaigns.

    The yin and yang is another familiar design dating back to ancient China which signifies the codependency and unlikely harmony of two often opposed or contrasting concepts. Like Chi, the intrinsic energy flow through all living things, it is a prevalent force in the study of Chinese science, medicine and nature.

    Lately symbols are being exploited as a substitution for discourse and rational thought and action. The trendy stunt of toppling symbolic statues are rationalized as symbolic acts themselves by those who favor slogans and symbolism in half-baked activism running low on positive messages.

    If these actions are only in the name of symbolism than why destroy that which is, also, only symbolic? History invariably shows us that the destruction of societal symbols never ends merely with that destruction(or ends well at all, for that matter).

    Are you symbol-minded? What are the symbols that mean something to you? Why do they speak to you? Please send me your thoughts: click here, or use the form below.

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    Saturday, June 13, 2020

    Communication Theories

    If there is one activity in our lives that would now seem to be more crucial than ever, it would be our ability to communicate effectively with each other. The complexities of our lives coupled with technology, social media and the potential for misinformation stresses the importance of proper and reliable communication in our nation and world as the key to, not only public safety but societal order in general.

    The research and theory of interpersonal communication is a modular field which scholars study to determine how various methods, environments, factors and other elements affect the transmission of messages between a sender and a receiver. In recent years, the influence of mass media, politics and social media forums such as Facebook have created new disciplines within these studies that are yet to be fully researched or understood. Opinions are now sent and received in the guise of objective communication.

    Currently the country is witnessing some of the chaos and disruption in cities where aggravated groups seem to be mobilizing their varied protest goals by linking up with more aggressive and organized outfits whose motivations are more politicized and (ironically) authoritarian.

    Their communication methods are more social-media driven than grassroots such as the 1960s counterculture. Similarly, mayors, governors and local and state law enforcement officials need to have precise and effective communication models to deal with these unprecedented and increasingly dangerous developments as they transpire.

    The information regarding COVID-19 and the necessary guidelines and restrictions the public needed to take became the apotheosis of a major world health information campaign in the digital age of mass media, Twitter and Facebook. The tools we share are as readily available as the necessary outlets are ubiquitous. The remaining dilemma pertains to our ability to properly utilize them and derive the correct results.

    Are you communicating interpersonally? Is what you sent being properly received? Are you receiving opinions dressed as objective messages? Furthermore, does any of this frighten you a little?

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    Sunday, May 10, 2020

    Milestones and Missed Opportunities

    Friday marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day, when victory in Europe was declared by the Allied Forces in the war against Germany on May 8th 1945. The end of World War II signaled a new era and commenced history’s bloodiest chapter.

    It’s safe to say that WW2 may be the single definitive event in our modern history, that being within the timeframe that living Americans can still recall. Arguably there have been three such momentous world/national events since Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941, the current global pandemic being the latest. Relatively few of us have experienced the events leading up to VE Day, so it was particularly disappointing that its anniversary couldn’t be properly recognized due to current restrictions on public gatherings-one condition of history forestalling the remembrance of another one.

    Many among us recall certain global or national events for various reasons depending on our ages and the degree of association we might have with the events themselves. Some are significantly connected to major points in history that others merely observed as bystanders. Many of those events nevertheless carry equal importance among individuals regardless of their participation.
    Perhaps you have a ‘connection’ to one of those events-or another one that few others have claim to. The designation of any event’s importance can be subjective. What changed the world for you might not have even phased your friends, neighbors or peers. In a sense, we’re not always in these experiences together... or are we?

    Saturday, April 11, 2020

    Coronavirus: Making the Best of a Bad Situation


    Lately most of us are experiencing a surplus of down time. Hopefully everyone out there is staying safe and well.

    I mostly try to use the time creatively--that is creating something so as to use the time to my advantage and also do so in a positive way.

    What are you creating? Is it getting you through this? Let me know how you're doing with it.

    Christopher Robinson

    To connect with Chris: "Click Here."