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Monday, August 28, 2023

Under the Maple


Ollie sits with Twinkie and Sally as they wait for the others to arrive, and when they appear at the side gate to the backyard, they are in deep conversation. Harvey holds the gate for the other two men.


"Hi guys," says Ollie.


Greetings are exchanged, and Ollie returns to Shal, "Hey Shal, is that watermelon for us?'


"You betcha. Shall I drop it on the ground the way we used to as kids when we were stealing from Mr. Wilson's watermelon patch?


"No," we're sophisticated now. I'll get a knife. I'm ashamed that we were stealing."


"Mr. Wilson knew it."


"I know, but it was underhanded."


"It was a cat and mouse game. He loved it."


 "Yeah, but we could have asked."


"What, and ruin the fun? I'll go into the kitchen and slice this. You stay." Oh, by the way," he turns back, "You know what? After our talk last week about finding truth, I came upon a book titled How to Win the War on Truth the very next day."


"Fascinating when we find something on the very subject we were discussing," says Ollie, "Tell us about it."


I haven't read the book but listened to the author a bit. The part I heard was about recognizing propaganda.


"I'm listening," says Twinkie."


Shal sits down, still holding his watermelon." It was a crash course in recognizing propaganda. Did you know that after WWII, the word propaganda—by then, people knew it was biased and misleading information—publicists changed the wording to 'Public Relations."


"Nooo!" says Sally.


"Yep. "To recognize propaganda, we need to see that it is trying to sell something, whether it is an idea, a concept or a product."


Harvey chimed in, "Shal told us the word came from the church, in 'To Spread the Truth."


"Well heck," says Sally, Nothing wrong with spreading your ideas, just don't mislead us in the process."


"Ungh," Harvey drops his 250-pound frame into a lawn chair. "Wouldn't honest advertising do it?"


"Sadly, not in most cases," says Shal. "People resist parting with their hard-earned cash and need a compelling reason to do it. Try to be a used car salesman. People take your time, but are, ‘Just looking.’”


"Shal, you're not a used car salesman."


"I was to help pay for college."


"I'm glad I'm in the food industry," says Sally. "People don't need much of a push to eat."


"Your food is incredible, Sally, but few restaurants last longer than two years."


"Yeah, it takes business sense plus good cooking."


"Being Italian doesn't hurt, Sally."


"Yeah, why do you think I named it da Venezia, ‘from Venice.’ Was that deceitful? My great-great-grandfather was from there, and I use some of his recipes.


You're entitled to name your restaurant whatever you want. Hagen Daz sounds like happy days, but the words don't mean a thing."


"You guys are making me hungry. I'll go slice this watermelon. Let's meet tonight to Sally's for dinner. Sally, your Bruschettas are to die for."


"No dying here, Shal."


"Just a figure of speech."


Shal disappears into the kitchen whose widow overlooks the backyard where they sit. When he returns, the watermelon is in bite-sized squares with a container of toothpicks on the platter. He sets it on the low table in the center of their circle.


"So Shal," says Ollie, spearing a chunk of watermelon, "tell us more about finding lies."


"Well, some are clever marketing ploys, like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade the day before the hottest shopping day of the year. It's to promote Macy's.


"Listerine mouthwash, formerly used to clean floors, convinced people they had halitosis and needed a mouthwash.


"The 50-foot Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California, originally had nothing to do with the Hollywood Film industry but was put up by a Real Estate Company to sell houses. Today, it's an icon."


"Those are relatively benign campaigns," says Harvey."


"It emphasizes that manipulation is involved," says Shal.


"Yes," and see how a clever phrase or icon catches on." Harvey lays one ankle over his other leg. "People visit that Hollywood sign every year. Now we hear that they are looking at a Real Estate Billboard."


"But a selfie of them and the sign proves they have been to Hollywood," says Sally. There they are at the film capital of the world. Oh, is it of the world? See how I've been led to believe it."


"I think it still is," says Shal, "We just need to know that propaganda is to sell us something, and usually it uses biased or misleading information. If it wasn't misleading, it is marketing, although marketing is often overblown information."


"It's called dramatization. Shal," says Harvey.


"But unless overblown, it wouldn't be interesting. It's a catch-22 situation. When science becomes political, it's dangerous. For example, 98 percent of the world's scientists say that Global Warming is a fact. Yet there is that 3% hanging on that it isn't happening. It is a mystery to me. I grew up where we had severe winters that froze the river so you could walk over it. Now my hometown might get a snow flurry in February, maybe none at all."


"Maybe it's denial. Who wants to believe the world is heating up on us."


"You are being generous, Twinkie," says Ollie.


 "Yeah," Twinkie responds," but how do we counter that?"


"I don't think 3% have much to say about it."


"Maybe not, but it causes dissension among the ranks. And we need to know if people brought about the warming and if there is something we can do about it. We need to get together to find answers. Not argue with each other. Can we either slow or stop the process, and what should we do? Stop using hair spray, stop industries from throwing toxic chemicals into the air and water? Yes. Can we assist with the process? I want to know what that is. I could go back to the horse and buggy days if need be. And now we understand animals better and would be kinder to them. I should invest in horses.


"You go, girl," says Ollie.


"On one hand," says Ollie, "I'm impressed that people want to believe others are telling them the truth—it shows the goodness in people. One the other hand, it appears there is a range of people waiting to manipulate to promote their agenda. I heard that most of President Reagan's political people were from ad agencies."


"Oh, that's funny—well, not really." Says Harvey.


"Nothing wrong with promoting your product—people need money to live." Says Sally.


"Maybe that’s something we need to change. Well the subject of money can go off in an entirely new direction. Even with bartering, horse traders tried to disguise a lame horse under the guise that it was sound. What'a ya do?"


"Oh, we know fakers came in long ago in ancient marketplaces. And they came with an agenda," says Ollie. "It's a 'Look at me. Follow my way of thinking. How do we know the fake from the true? Isn't that what we were into last week?"


"Yes, we were trying to see what's real from what's not. Fear creeps into the discussion. It's like the people who believe in God have a moment of doubt, and the ones who do not believe in God have a moment when they think maybe they're wrong.? Oh, I’m sorry, I butted in Ollie."


"You're right, Sally. We have that desire to believe, and then there is the skeptical part of us. It's tricky. There are two fractions: the believers and the manipulators.


"I guess that's why I'm such a poor marketer," says Simad, "I don't like embellishing the truth, and thus, my books sell like day-old bread."


"You're a great writer, Simad," says Twinkie, "I believe that the people seeking what you have to say will find you. Like attracts like you know."


"I suppose," says Simad, not sounding convinced.


"Shal, though," says Sally, "How do we know the difference between good news and bad?


"Bill Moyers, the journalist, said, "News is what people want to keep hidden, and everything else is publicity."


“His buddy Joseph Campbell, the father of 'The Journey of the Hero,' would say we are drawn to the story.


"We like drama. We are geared to the story," says Sahl, the way Deepak Chopra said we are hardwired to believe in God. Simad here's where you come in. You're the writer."


"Then, I need to tell a good story."


"Right on, good buddy," says Shal.


"But, back to what you were saying, Shal, how do we tell fact from fiction?"


"Here is one way: Does what we see or hear cause a negative reaction? I don't mean in fiction; I mean in real life."


"Hell, I can't tell the difference," says Harvey, plopping a watermelon cube into his mouth.


In world events," says Shal, "in dealing with people, does it enrage us.?"


"Hell yeah," says Harvey.


"Harvey, we need some criteria with which to judge. Let your feelings guide the way.


"It does enrage us to find we have been manipulated. I know it's more fun to be a true believer; it's more comforting. But perhaps a good dose of skepticism is important in a world where there is too much. Step back and be with people as we are here. Be with people who want what's good for you. Be with people who have your back and you theirs. Be with people who support your dreams and call you on your bullshit." He turns to Simad. "Simad, tell us, how do you find your inner path through life?


"Well," says Simad thoughtfully, there are three rules to find that inner path." He pauses.


"Come on, Simad, urges Twinkie, “tell us.”


"Number one:" Simad holds up a finger." Do the inner work to find the thing that rings your chimes.


"Number two: Take a step toward that goal that feels the most delicious.


"Number three: Repeat steps one and two over and over until you're dead."


They all laugh.


See below.



P.S. Have you seen this picture of the one standing house in Lahaini Hawaii among all the burnt out ones?


The owner was on the mainland when the fire happened, and was sure his house was gone, but when he returned he found this.  Not only was he shocked, but he had survivor's guilt. So he is dedicating his house as a springboard place for others to gather, regroup and rebuild. His house was an old wooden frame house that he renovated himself. It has a steel roof, and river rock in the yard surrounding it. It doesn't even look singed.


This blog had a good connection last week. 4.65k in one week. Thank you readers, and now:


Come on guys, how about a follow?

Look below.






Saturday, August 19, 2023

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, there was a land where people had a precious device sitting in their homes, on the table, in their study, their office, in their kid's rooms, out on the porch—wherever they were.

They called it a computer. Once it computed. Now, not only can it compute, it can help people write, read, research, play music, watch movies, and about whatever the minds of men could conger. And their device is growing in information and changing daily, like the people.

A group of six people left their devices at home alone one day to gather outside and sit under a maple tree. Ollie, the tree's supporter and waterer, popped the cork on a bottle of Vino, "Time to switch from coffee," she said and filled six glasses on the tray atop the round coffee table before them."To truth," she said. The rest of the group chose a glass and clicked each other's. "To truth."

"But, how do we find the truth?" said Tweekie, "hold on one minute, I'll be right back," and disappeared into the house.

Shortly after, she appeared with a platter of cheese, crackers, and grapes. "Okay, guys, no feet on the table, food's here."

"We were on hold until you returned, Tweekie. Thanks for the snacks." Sally picked up a cracker and slice of cheese and, while waving about, said, "Here we are drinking to something I have no clue about."

"Well," says Shal, "You know some things to be true, your dog here, us as friends, the weather, the kindness of people."

"Do you think people are kind?"

"Most are. Most want to assist their fellow man. Really, you see how boundaries drop in a crisis, or if someone has an accident, how they rush to help?"

"But we don't want a crisis to bring out the good in people."

"No, but we see it there. And most people want a better world; we just disagree on ways to do that.

"Finding the good is an admirable goal. That may be our first step.

"I believe Mr. X is accurate," says Harvey.

"Really? I don't think so," says Tweekie, "He says the world is flat."

"Oh, for heaven's sake," chimes in Sally, "hasn't he ever traveled in an airplane--you can see the curvature of the Earth. And what about objects in space? Planets are round. Our sun is round. The moon is round. Why would the Earth not follow the pattern of round objects traveling in a circle around a round sun?

"It is illogical," says Shal, but Mr. X wants to be unique."

"Well, he's got that, and people listen to him, but what he is spouting is nonsense."

"I guess it's true for him," says Shal.

"So, what do we do with people who have influence and are spouting garbage."

"Some people like to ingest garbage."

"Oh, Shal, that's disgusting."

"Well, you know that 'What is one man's meat is another man's poison.'"

"That goes way back to the 1500s, so I guess they had the same problem then, but, whoa, do we just let people believe whatever they want?'

"Won't they?"

Sally laughs, "I guess we have no control over that. But we should try to have factual information."

Shal refills her glass and offers to top off the others. "People don't want the facts. The facts are dry. They want sensationalism. It makes them feel."

"Then the problem lies in people's feelings?" says Ollie pulling over a foot stool and propping her feet on it. 

"I guess so. That's why headlines are so alluring—Their writers want them read. And you know the old adage, "If it bleeds, it leads." Sensationalism works. So does fear."

"Yeah, fear is built into us. But, we've had fear up to our eyeballs," said Ollie. "Our reptilian brain has become a raging crocodile. Hells bells, we don't even know if what sets off the reptilian brain was written by a person or a robot."

"You're right; it's funny when you really look at it."

"Like Forrest Gump's run and his followers not knowing what to do when he stops?"

"Yeah, like that."

"I don't think it's funny at all," says Sally, "we're being deceived, lied to, facts are distorted, and many are ignored."

"Yeah, I know. But look at it this way, we are adventuring beings. We like the unusual, the absurd, the outrageous. The blow-hard gets attention."

Ollie laughed. "Ain't that the truth."

Hey, we found a truth," says Sally.

"Only Shal, "What do you think? Do we throw out all Mr. X says because he has some cuckoo ideas?"

"Well, it does make me question his judgment."

"What evidence does he have that makes him believe that way?"

"Maybe he lives on a flat planet."

 "I get it," said the quiet one, Simad, "He's living by a different set of rules. If you don't throw in some absurdities, you're boring."

"You think it's hype? Could he have information he's withholding from us, or is he speaking allegorically? Maybe ‘plains of existence,’ or something like that.”

"I don't know. You will have to ask him. If aliens abducted you and you are here to tell of it, you might get some attention. If you've visited Mars, you might be listened to. If you have a brain anomaly and see everything as flat, we might cut you some slack."

“Some would. Others would think you should be put out of your misery."

"If you got rid of all the people who disagreed with you. You'd be alone on a lonely planet."

"I will let you disagree with me. I want you here."

"Thanks, kiddo."

"We all know that fear gets attention. More medical ads first ask if your toenails ache. And you think, yeah, my toenails are aching; what shall I take?"

"Your toenails are aching?"

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do. But our initial goal was to search for truth."

"Good luck with that. There are some universal truths, like gravity, which we can't explain, and some "truths" we agree to, like E = mc2, matter is neither made nor destroyed. But is that really true? I don't know. But it's accepted until proven wrong. We trusted Einstein."

"So, we believe people we trust?"

 "Pretty much."

Many people didn't trust Darwin.

"No. His theory of evolution threatened the established view of a Creator being. Like Copernicus telling people, the Earth isn't the center of our solar system. The sun is."

"Then they were thinking too small. Instead of understanding that species change over time, they went to the bottom line. Darwin threatened my idea of Creation. Instead of saying that information from the pantry of life is not going into my pie, you try to keep everyone else from putting it into their pie."

"Well said, Shal."

"I do get a little testy when someone challenges my thinking," Sally said.

"Don't we all."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"…we can't even agree to honor that."

"A lofty goal, though."

"Yeah, maybe goals should be it, instead of searching for truths, for it seems that people have their own 'truths" of which there are many."

"I'll drink to that." Ollie holds up her glass to be filled.

"How about, instead of frustrating ourselves, such as, if we say gravity is real, someone will counter it with, 'There are places where it isn't.' If we say your dog is real, some will say, 'He is an illusion, as is all life.'"

You must choose what feels right and then be open to changing your opinion if data presents itself. Life is a smorgasbord, and we can choose what to put on our plate."

"You're right, you like anchovies, I don't. You take them. I'll leave them."

"Wise choice."

"But I don't want anyone to give me smelt under the guise that it's an anchovy. I want true anchovies."

"I guess that's for us to dig through the pile and see what rings true.

"That is all well and good, Shal," but I want help finding the truth," Sally sighs.

"Well, we can't find it all in one day. Let's meet next week, same time, same station."

"Here, here."

Shal throws back the remainder of his wine and says, "Did you hear the one about two old couples walking down the street? The two ladies are in front with their husbands trailing behind them. "So," says one man to the other, "what have you done this week?

"We went to a new restaurant. The food was great, the prices good."

"What was the name of the restaurant?"

It was, uh, oh, like a flower."

"A rose?"

"Oh, Rose," he calls to his wife, "What was the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"



 P.S. Listen to Dolly Parton sing Let It Be. It will move you to new realms. Paul McCartney is on the piano, and Ringo Starr on drums. 


And if you would be so kind as to check this out and how about a Subscribe--It's FREE, no obligation, and it would help me reach 100 subscribers, a goal according to Substack.

Ah ha. I finally got the link to work. It only took me about 50 tries. Let's see if it will work for you. There is not much there for you guys for I repeat, however, my booklet Take The Leap is there. Some folks from my Travelswithjo blog wanted more on that subject. and I got  over 4.000 comments on that post.  Of late I seem to have lost a lot or readers from that blog, either I screwed it up or they didn't like what I was saying and didn't put it in their pie.

Supposidly joycedavis.subtack should work, but I must have a firewall of some such. I am so frazzled, I think I'll ask Neil to go out for ice cream to keep me from blowing a fuse.

Take a breather with me.

I breathed, and am back Monday August 21, 2023 OMG, Google did it to me. 

I just looked on site, and saw a comment I had passed over because it was in Japanese. I translated it and found if you have a drop in readers Google lowers your SEO. I had let my site drop from paid to free, and lost readers. I thought they didn't like me. It was google that didn't like me.