Politics used to be defined as the allocation of public resources for the public good. Elected officials and public servants were entrusted with spending taxpayer dollars on needed public improvements or programs. But today, politics is the meat grinder of biased thoughts, political correctness and nationalism.

It is harder for the average news consumer to find the wheat (Truth) from the chaff (Bias Propaganda). When leaders are only speaking to their base supporters instead of the whole body politic, it is merely a ploy to keep themselves in power. As a result, nothing gets done. The noise level increases. The rhetoric gets nasty. Words become threats. Former friends become enemies. Bitterness overwhelms common sense. This is age of Trumpism.




VOLUME 18 No. 2












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Politics is now the filter for everything. It is seeping into everything like an invasive plant species that chokes out the rational institutional roots of modern democracies. The internet has spread these invaders like weed pods. They are strangling the flowers of beauty, cultural, diverse opinion, compromise, public welfare and peace. With all the noise, misinformation, trolling, and Twitter wars of politicians, the average person does not know who much the world is beginning to unravel at an alarming pace.

People do not seek out real news. Journalism is now an antiquated feature like the horse and buggy. People are now conditioned to have “the news” to come to them on the smartphones or apps (through a series of unknown filters and keywords programmed by platforms with their own political axes to grind.) People in the Big Data world are nothing more a commodity like sheep. For every Chicken Little, there are a dozen wolves speaking outrageously enough to pull all the oxygen out of the room leaving confusion and apathy it its wake.

The political creep is now very apparent in pop culture, which used to be an oasis from political mudslinging. In late August, an Iranian gamer was in a Tokyo tournament. He was advancing towards the finals. However, his government told him to forfeit his next match because if he won he would probably play an Israeli player. Iran and Israel are bitter enemies. The Iranian game played his next match but lost. Reports concluded that he will still be reprimanded for not obeying the demands of his country.

Geopolitics is a dangerous stepping stone to mass chaos. Asia is a current tinderbox of past hate and increasing retribution between even allies



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Let's break down the current unrest in the region:

All summer, Hong Kong citizens are protesting their local legislature's policies which would strengthen control by mainland China. It began with a sweeping extradition law that would have given mainland China free reign to clamp down on free speech dissidents in Hong Kong. Hong Kong used to be a British controlled independent land. However, it was only leased from China. During the turnover, it was agreed that Hong Kong would retain its sovereignty for 50 years under a One China, Two Sovereigns policy. Hong Kong citizens would be allowed to continue with their traditions, laws and government action. China considers Hong Kong like Taiwan, a renegade providence that it still owns and controls. The only difference is that Taiwan had not been overrun by Chinese military action is the U.S. recognition of Taiwan as a separate nation. Recently, local government police have been arresting protest leaders. It is only a matter of time before violent suppression will happen.

This story about freedom has gathered the attention of the world. However, the politics of this matter have creeped into popular culture. Many Chinese actors and singers posted on SNS their support of the Chinese government. This led to a harsh and bitter reaction from their foreign fans. Even idols who debuted and flourished in South Korea used their social capital to back the mainland position were criticized for taking that position because they were profitably employed in Chinese entertainment industry. One former idol unilaterally canceled his endorsement deal with Samsung Electronics, which led to vicious comments against him.

This is not an isolated case. South Korean pop group TWICE is a mixed nationality girl group. Their Japanese members have been criticized in South Korea for being aligned with their Japanese government actions against South Korea. It is not even clear that any member actually supports the head butting between the nations. The Korean-Japan disputes have been long simmering verbal fights over territorial islands and remnants of World War II. The Japanese government still claims Dokko Island, but South Korea controls it. But the bigger issue has been the “comfort women” issue. Thousands of Korean women were taken to Japan to act as military prostitutes during the war. Japan claims it was voluntary. The women themselves claimed it was sexual slavery. This year, South Korean courts gave its final judgment awarding damages to the comfort women. The court also allowed Japanese assets in South Korea to be seized to pay for it. This has had a domino effect: Japan retaliated with an export embargo on materials needed for South Korea's electronics industries; South Korea retaliated with formal protests to international trade commissions; it has escalated into Japan reducing South Korea's favored nation trade status. South Korea then suspended its defense intelligence agreement with Japan. (All the while, North Korea is still firing missiles into the sea between the two nations.)

During the height of the rhetoric, a Japanese artist installed an art exhibit which featured a comfort woman statue. The Japanese government ordered it removed from the exhibition. South Koreans were naturally outraged by the action. The artist said he merely wanted to bring up the issue to the public because it was not taught in Japanese schools. At the same time, a Korean-American film maker was completing his documentary on the subject. He interviewed experts in both nations to tell their sides of the issue. Remarkably, it is being shown in both nations (because it does not take one side or the other's position.)

These are passionate subjects that build SNS momentum. The fall out for entertainers is less sales and endorsements. A damaged reputation is very difficult to cure in Asia. That is why many entertainers do not mention politics or public issues because there is always someone on the Internet who will blow it up. South Korea's past president was convicted for using her office to blackmail and black list celebrities into following her political orders.

It happens every minute in the United States. We have a president who every day Twitter bombs opponents. It riles up his opposition and rallies his base supporters. It is an organized mob action without a physical confrontation (which is different than the Hong Kong protesters blockading the airport and clashing with city police). Since you can always find someone on the Internet who agrees with your position (no matter how false, wrong or insane it may be), there is an empowerment of position. If you ideas are reinforced by others, you will believe it is right and any contrarian is wrong. This does not lead to healthy debate to find the truth. It only leads to arguments, fights and division. “ A nation divided cannot stand,” President Abraham Lincoln said.

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This web site quietly tuned 18 years old. In most countries, that is legal age for all sorts of cultural rights and vices. But in the World Wide Web, it is a fossil.

If you don not believe us, just think of how many web sites you consistently visited for more than a decade? If you cannot remember, go to your browser's bookmark tab. How many of those listed bookmarks have you not clicked on in a month, a year or a decade? Then try a few old ones. Do those sites even exist anymore?

That is the nature of the beast called the Internet Everyone on Earth has access to it. Everyone on Earth is a consumer of it. Everyone on Earth can be a content producer on it. Everyone on the Earth is dog paddling through an ocean of data and information.

Eighteen years ago the computer age was still working its way through businesses as a means of increasing productivity. Most offices still had land lines and typewriters. Networks and personal computers were luxury items. But now, people use technology on par with breathing oxygen. People cannot live without their smart phones, their Internet steaming services or their social media. The Internet has gone from being a useful utility for business to an invaluable appendage to humans. A few people take care of their technology machines like they are new born infants; they cannot go or do anything without them.

The freedom of technology has given us a complete dependence on technology. It is a paradox. We now have more information at our disposal than a brick and mortar library, but we do not learn as much as we used to. People used to navigate by reading maps or learning a route. Today, most people rely upon a map app to tell them where to go. It is a the rise of the dazed and zombie tech consumer. How many times have you nearly run into, run over or run through a person looking at their phone instead of where they were going. We have seen little kids weaving on bicycles because they are looking at their smartphones. We have seen pedestrians walk through stop signs into traffic. We have read the headlines of distracted drivers causing fatal accidents. We have read of social media addicts falling off cliffs trying to get that ultimate selfie.

Darwin predicted that all species will evolve over time. But evolution does not necessarily mean progress. The rise of social media has lowered the standard of truth and accuracy in information. The rise in social media has lowered public discourse on important issues. The rise of incivility in daily life has led to more violent interactions among people (physically and emotionally). It seems that many people appear pleased living in this great digital age but are these people actually happy?

If you take away their smart phones, there is addiction withdrawal symptoms. If you tell them what is trending, they will follow like Pavlov's dog. If they follow an influencer, they will believe that they are hip, cool and part of the popular group (re-writing their high school years). Is this healthy?

Big tech is trying to make money off Big Data. Putting smart devices on your body means personal data collection, including health conditions. Genealogy DNA and health data being captured is the greatest stealth invasion of privacy in the history of mankind. People do not seem to care. They do not seem to notice it because they are now conditioned towards instant gratification that a search screen provides them.

We have tried to monitor these changes in technology and culture. It is a fascinating time in which to live. But it is also an increasingly dangerous place to live because harm also lives in both the real and digital world.

At present we do not plan to change our monthly web zine even though it is harder to produce it because of other time constraints (such as a real job). YouTubers claim that they are making money, but those are full time jobs with long hours and a fickle following. As fades, games, Twitch celebrities come and go, so do those digital gold rush stories. We are not doing this for the money but for the journey like what most others on the Internet are also doing on their sites



Hog Days is a rural Illinois festival celebrating the Hog Capital of the World, Kewanee, Illinois. Kewanee, a small town in North Western Illinois, was more famous for its boiler company. But as times and technology changed, the foundries and boiler maker went out of business. The town's population peaked in 1930 at approximately 17,000. Today, the town is only 12,900 residents.

We began coming to this area as part of a college reunion. Since 1979, we gathered a farm to relax, drink beer, debate issues of the day and laugh. It was a retreat into the countryside which was once standard treatment for dirty, loud and congested urban life in the 1800s.

Like the boiler maker, country drives and retreats are things of the past. Highly structured family vacations to places like Disney have replaced the weekend getaways. One thing that still amazes us is far out into the country, it is so quiet that it is erie. There are no trains, traffic, construction, loud music or noisy tenement neighbors. The rolling land filled with corn stalks and soybean rows have a soothing landscape painting for the mind. Suburbanites rarely interact in the wild with their grocery items. It is only a few hours away from the big city. One wonders why more people do not take advantage of the tranquility of the farm land.

As usual, we came into town with a hazy agenda. There were things to do like putting mementos into a local safety deposit box. There were old friends to meet. And there was the longest bar in Illinois to sit at to drink cold beers. We had not been to the Hog Days festival. Our late host usually had on his farm a pig roast for his high school friends. Adding college friends to the mix was too much. The local downtown was turned into a grid of closed streets lined with carnival rides, food stalls and merch tents. On Friday night, the streets were crowded to the point of realizing that there were so many young preschool children with their parents to think there was a sudden population boom. But we observed that this event was more like an entire town's annual Homecoming.

The bartenders were slow because they spent half their time greeting old friends and neighbors when they made their drink orders. The town probably doubled in size as the crowds filled the area to hear live bands and socialize with long lost friends. On Saturday, a light rain tried to ruin the long parade. It held off to evening which dampened the main stage band.

During the entire weekend, I was without television (the motel set did not work in my room). I used my smartphone to tell the time (since my motel room did not have a clock). I would have been totally off the grid except that text messages kept our group's location and ETAs in manageable form. In addition, we would all post pictures of the events around us to share with our non-reunion friends.

It was the Labor Day weekend so the ability to get away for a weekend was great. This year has flown by like light speed. Nine months ago we were in the heart of a cold winter. Now, we are quickly falling into a warm autumn. The years have past like fallen leaves but the memories are still strong when they are reinforced by repetition.

The next generation may become too dependent on technology to put it down to look around in their surroundings. They will not think about leaving their house. If they want a rural American experience, they can go on-line to play a farming simulation game. But trust us, it is not the same. To see a black steer the size of a Buick grazing on a deep green mat of grass is a different experience. It is reality without the television screen. The sight, the smell and feeling in the air cannot be matched by a VR headset.

School children may still have field trips but they may not experience it without cutting the cord to immerse themselves in something different. The little children jeered with laughter on the rides. Their smiles were smeared with chocolate and ice cream. They danced in the parking lot in front of the main stage with people older than their parents. Fresh air plus fresh experiences create strong memories.

Can we get off the grid? Yes, for short times. In fact, it would be more meaningful if we actually try to getaway from technology chains on the weekends like a forefathers used to do with a simple drive or picnic in the country. To clear one's mind, it is often best to not replace work with additional digital stimulation. Nature still holds the healing power of human beings. It just has lost some of its luster to captivate people's attention.


















Question: Whether President Trump's ego fueled Twitter rants will lead the US into an economic recession?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether in 20 years, Sunday e-sports telecasts will be more popular than American football games?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream

Question: Whether Facebook's algorithms to take down alleged offensive content will work?

* Educated Guess

* Possible

* Probable

* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

* Doubtful

* Vapor Dream























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