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P1010075I grew up in an age of portholes on graceful boats and yachts. They were beauty personified. They reflected an appreciation for elegance and style and a clean interface with the vicissitudes of nature. Like the Turkish royal yacht above or my own little trawler of recent years below, yachts with portholes were the only way to go. In my log, they still are.

But today’s ultra-modern yachts sport giant picture windows, both horizontal and vertical, punctuating their hulls. Some even have decks that fold out sideways like balconies and terraces. And upright bows and vertical lines that seem to sit upon the sea like stacked boxes rather than the sleek lines of good, classical nautical design that is one with the sea.

What these absurdities reflect, to my mind, is a growing inwardness in modern well-to-doers — viewing the world not as part of nature but as part of self, not looking out at the beautiful world but in. They care more about their personal “space” than they do about connections with the waters and land around them. It is, in effect, a degrading of man’s connection with the sea.

The result is distressingly ugly, fractured and disassociating. I won’t even show pictures of these “yachts” of today, because I can’t stand them. YACHTING Magazine, a long-time favorite of mine, is now chock full of these monstrosities. Are the “end days of yachting” upon us. I hope not.

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You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.


– Woody Allen

The Rolling Stone is at it again, and raising the question about whether Psy-Ops units charged with propaganda targeted at the enemy should also be “targeting” U.S. Congress people and other diplomats and leaders to influence their thinking about increasing funding or troop levels for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Normally Public Affairs units would prepare background briefing papers and message points and presentations to be used by commanders in their interface with such decision makers.

As an old Army public affairs officer, and a career PR person, I understand the role of Public Affairs in helping their commanders communicate with non-military leadership decision-makers, but I never encountered Psychological Operations staffs normally charged with propaganda to influence the enemy being drafted to use propaganda techniques to win over internal VIPS.

I don’t know enough to judge, but one wonders if some generals might have college paranoid fantasies they developed after reading the book 1984 bouncing around up in their festering base-camp minds and leading them to lose grasp of the distinctions between fact-based, rhetorical arguments and outright psychological manipulation.

Here’s the article prompting the current blaze of media angst: http://www.readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/46-46/5065-army-deploys-psy-ops-on-us-senators

I suppose this morning around the country, hundreds of thousands of people are contemplating “pulling a Slater,” like the Jet Blue flight attendant of that name, and ditching their lousy bosses, jobs, customers and the boring and abusive routines of their everyday lives. Hundreds will probably do it now, or soon, inspired by the story of this long-suffering flight attendant. This incident illustrates one aspect of human nature I learned as a boy, going to the movies in Berwyn. I found, through trial and error, that if I crossed or uncrossed my legs, the person on the side of me in the movies was likely to soon do it as well. I call it the copy-cat reflect. Public relations and marketing professionals, and political operatives, know they can use that reflex as a tool to influence behavior. Plus, of course, we all know what it is to over react to a situation, and do or say things we might regret. Slater might come out ahead on all this, if he’s clever and lucky, as sometimes, being an involuntary copycat or over reacting can build insights, if one survives the experience, and has the wisdom to learn from it.

September 2019
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