Of the last twenty TED talks, this one has the most views by nearly a two to one margin over the runner up:
David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful
I personally found it upbeat yet vacuous. He doesn't specify whether in the topology of his gratitude vector space, there's a primary node where all the gratitude goes in, and no gratitude comes out (presumably due to Hawking radiation, all that gratitude is re-emitted from the fearful symmetry as cosmic love). Asimov, of course, never held the majority standard for spiritual malaise.
I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great, spectacularly prolific writer and scientist, Dr. Isaac Asimov in that essentially functionless capacity. At an A.H.A. memorial service for my predecessor I said, âoeIsaac is up in Heaven now.â That was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. It rolled them in the aisles. Mirth! Several minutes had to pass before something resembling solemnity could be restored.
And yet ... the majority of the world's population continues to itch for any hint of a master honour roll for special snowflakes, no matter how shallowly disguised.
China did it. But yeah, it's really not a problem for first-worlders. Asimov didn't see that coming.
Brave New World was published in 1931. Asimov would have been thoroughly familiar with it. Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the only game in town concerning the control of the masses. First, we have all the drugs. Second, we do have laws forcing parents to turn their children over to the puppy mill of public education which--along with mass culture--promptly fills their heads full of all kinds of garbage, that only the most strenuous parental exertion can hope to mitigate.
So you can have a large family, but at some deep level, it's not entirely yours.
It amazes me the number of people attracted to the purity cult concerning the foods they eat (local/non-GMO/vegetarian/unprocessed), who barely blink over the obnoxiousness of the vast majority of the thousands of media impressions we soak in each day, the end result of which is that a billion people cared about two seconds of Janet Jackson's nipple.
We live in a society where it's a permanent, relentless battle to resist the frivolous.
We have this notion of "parental controls". We can keep our children ignorant of how sex functions in the real world (as opposed to the retail world), though this electronic chastity belt is ultimately futile if your child has half a brain. We can pretend we're filtering out violence. Yet most violence is social, and you can really only filter graphic depictions (unless sex is also involved, in which case social aggression is also considered graphic).
What you really want to filter out is not sex or violence, but stupidity, and for this the "parental control" widget has no back-lit chicklet engraved with an undiscoverable hieroglyphic rune. In 90% of MSM political coverage, they're not even trying, to put it kindly.
It was Asimov who postulated the discipline of psychohistory, in which the vacuous can be distinguished from the salient by the vigorous cranking of some vast algorithmic matrix. We've become very, very good at the vigorous cranking of vast algorithmic matrices, yet I have no channel where political figures never intrude on my consciousness unless in the act of making a substantive statement. I don't even want the operatic comedy of "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!" Whatever.
Wake me up when it reaches the level of 'Heck of a job, Brownie' calls Bush inattentive 'fratboy'.
That could be riddled with a hundred falsehoods, distortions, and lies but at least it contains testable hypotheses, unlike 99% of the vapid crap that ever came out of a Bush photo op. Yet which one makes the headline news?
Hardly any wonder we're left feeling cynical about copulating with cause.