Today is mi novia’s birthday, which of course calls for celebration. The nature of one’s birthday changes over the years. As a child, birthdays are exciting milestones on what seems like an endless march toward adulthood—which is impossibly far away. Over time, though, the temporal distance between the annual anniversaries seems to diminish exponentially (is it possible to “diminish exponentially”?). Birthday celebrations thrill children. Birthday celebrations cause adults to cringe for a few years, but over time the landmark events simply pass with little notice. “Milestone” birthdays lose their status as victories as one ages. Milestones become millstones. Then, later, when the luster of  accomplishment disappears and the ragged face of decay smooths into the silkiness of experience, birthdays have little impact on one’s world-view. Still, whatever the state of individual evolution, every birthday merits a tip of the hat…an acknowledgement of another marker of one’s experience in life.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist.

~ Jean-Paul Sartre ~

Every now and again I question whether all governments—the world over—are guilty of deliberately misleading their constituents. My answer? Most definitely. They are misleading us on a grand scale. No matter how “free” the society, carefully crafted messages are delivered to the media, and then to the people, in a coordinated effort to mold public opinion. In the USA, we are essentially instructed to dislike, loathe, mistrust, and otherwise think badly about Russia, China, and their respective allies. In Russia, the citizens are programmed to think of us as the bad guys. The same is true in China. Coordination between allied governments reinforces the messages each of the respective citizenries receive; the information we get manipulates the opinions we form.

Unless one reads the news (and listens to the news pundits) in a very critical, extremely attentive, frame of mind, the propaganda fed to us through a “free press” can seem unbiased and purely “informational.” But on careful consideration, it becomes apparent that the media, whether knowingly or not, plays into the more or less sinister intent of the powers that be…contriving to keep “the people” sufficiently docile and supportive of the government and the society it ostensibly supports and protects.

Regardless of how we answer, we should ask—and be serious about getting to a real, believable answer—these kinds of questions:

  • Is Vladimir Putin really as sinister as the US government and media suggests?
  • Was Hugo Chavez truly the ruthless dictator described by media reporting and US governmental assertions?
  • Is the power struggle between the USA, Russia, and China real? If so, what is the REAL reason for the ongoing tension?
  • Are Scandinavian countries really light years ahead of the USA (and much of Europe) in terms of access to affordable health care?
  • What, if any, are the truly attractive aspects of the brands of socialism or communism practiced by Russia and China and their allies?
  • What fundamental assumptions do I have about various countries and systems of government that may not be factual but, instead, were fed to me in an attempt to mold the way I think about the world around me?

I know. Paranoid much? No, I do not think it paranoid to question the motives of governments and the media’s role in either deliberately or unknowingly supporting those motives. I just wish I knew of ways to dig beneath the surface and get to the real answers. But I think that would require more resources and more stamina than are available to me. So I will just have to sit back and question everything; let my skepticism run rampant.


The capacity to combine commitment with skepticism is essential to democracy.

~ Mary Catherine Bateson ~


The Canadian wildfires concern me. Not just because of the smoke and smog enveloping much of the east coast of the US (and threatening to move south). I worry about the devastation of Canadian forests. And I wonder why the news media in both the US and Canada are focusing almost exclusively on the negative effects of the fires on air quality? Does the destruction of forest land and the potential incineration of entire towns in Quebec not merit equal consideration? Another example of government and media manipulation…or it could be simple paranoia on my part.


Time to relinquish control of this keyboard.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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