Random thoughts on a Sunday evening:

 * What, you thought the Patriots were going to run the table? The “experts” will say the team got caught in a “trap” game, but THE PLANET would disagree. The Browns under Eric Mangini are a young team rounding into shape. Look for New England to bounce back, as they invariably do. Wethinks the season may come down to the game in Foxboro against the J-E-T-S.

* THE PLANET has a special invitation in mind for Christopher Speranzo, recently re-elected to another term as state rep in the 3rd Berkshire District despite running The Invisible Campaign. We shall be revealing the details in the near future. Meanwhile, FOC (Friends of Chris) let him know about this invite, wherein The People get to see where his loyalties lie.

* We love fall and the approaching of winter. Thanksgiving, the one holiday that crass materialism hasn’t figured out how to ruin, looms. After that, we get to enjoy the crystallization of the world, where all is gleaming blue, white, and ice. Sledding, skating, hiking, and getting cozy with loved ones: what’s not to like about winter?

* Hope all of you can join THE PLANET on Friday at Chapters Bookstore on North Street in downtown Pittsfield. We shall be hosting a launch party for the first release of Planet Media Books. The title is “Spring’s Third Day.” The author is Laura Gross from Great Barrington. The time is 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12. There will be free cheese, crackers, sweets, treats, wine, and soft drinks. Laura will read and sign books. THE PLANET shall speak as well. Please join us and say hello.

* “Third” parties such as Green-Rainbow and Libertarian are often the place to go for the best ideas. It’s not necessarily that they draw more intelligent candidates, although that is often the case. Rather, it’s that they can afford to put intelligence into their positions, since they presently have little chance of being put in a position of power to implement them.

Mainstream candidates are straight jacketed by a host of political considerations that, literally, prevent them from acting for the good of We the People. A government bought by the special interests will only serve the special interests. This leads to an interesting philosophical problem: Why should someone support a “third party” if that partry has little practical chance of winning.

Do you want the two-word answer to this: Mark Miller. The more involved answer is that alternative “third” parties can only coalesce into a viable alternative if they can raise more money than they presently do and if they can do what no one else has yet figured out how to do, and that is to somehow instill a sense of  responsibility for ordinary people to once again participate in THEIR government.

As for the money, think of the candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992. He pumped a lot of his own money into the campaign, and he won a sizable chuck of the vote (28 percent, but that is memory serving). Green and Libertarian efforts would do well to get someone with this kind of Perotian money. Short of that, they will have to schlep for dollars while managing to avoid selling out.

It’s sad to see for what fighting men and women of this country have gone to battle and died: for the privilege of people tuning out. The great Dumbing Down of the country now in progress must be especially appalling to anyone who has found themselves in the muddy, chewing the earth while ducking bullets.

The working man and woman have been burned too often by phony establishment politicians of the Chris Speranzo ilk. They live hurried, worrisome lives, and have neither the time nor the capacity for sustained commitment that the political process requires. The future does not look good, especially when one eyes the “rat in the belly of the python” that is middle schoolers and younger. They are digital natives and are on the verge of having their pockets picked and souls stolen by the “virtual” lives that they have been conditioned to prefer over Life Itself.

I have talked to a good many adults who deal with this new type of human: teachers, parents, clergy, and the like. The testimony is uniform and near-unanimous. The digital native generation, now in 9th grade and younger, is characterized by extreme passivity, an insular preference for being constantly plugged in by their electronic pacifiers, and a lack of basic social skills. They have little intellectual curiosity, do not see the need to learn anything when everything can be Googled.

They feel the need to send and receive many hundreds of text messages a day, remain solipsistic to the point of reduction, and lack nearly all discriminatory skills that make a reflective life possible.  Moreoever, they have been duped into succumbing to a dark, edgy form of marketing that forces them to grow up and out of innocence at far too early an age. If you want to see what this looks like, take a walk in a mall or in parts of downtown Pittsfield or Great Barrington.

What will this new type of person make of “participatory democracy”? One shudders at the thought.

* Should THE PLANET do the creche thing this year again in Park Square? Someone asked the other  day. If you recall, last December 24th, THE PLANET held a creche in park square and defied civil authorities to arrest us on the basis of protected free speech. We may. What think you out there?

* Is anyone else interested in the concept of “between” besides mathematicians, quantum physicists, and THE PLANET? “Between” is a little thought that contains an infinity of space and profound implications for a physical understanding of quantum reality. For example, how many numbers are “between” 1 and 2? It looked as if fractions had the answser, until decimels came along with things like pi and other infinite regressions/progressions. We quickly realized that there are an infinite number of numbers between 1 and 2. Ah, but is this infinitude the same “size” as the number of numbers between one and … [symbol for infinity]? Is one infinity “less” than 10?

THE PLANET always tested precociously (spookily) high in math, and we remember as a lad looking at the sequence numerals 1-10 we had traced on a chalkboard and feeling as if we were standing on the edge of the rim of the Grand Canyon. It is the same feeling I still get when I stand at the edge of a still puddle and look into the reflection and an chasm of sky. Someday, remind us to tell you of our independent research into the mathematics of space (geometry) and the calculus of motion (progressive movement, or finite absolutes). On the other hand, never mind, or you’ll start getting all “A Beautiful Mind” on me.


  1. Scott Laugenour
    November 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    The Progressive Party in Vermont has already won seats in the legislature. The Green-Rainbow Party will, too. Takes hard work, but we will.

    • danvalenti
      November 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

      The key is persistence and progress that can be incrementally measured. It was a big deal for Green-Rainbow that Nat Fortune pulled so well statewide. This will open up more funding. This past election cycle in the Berkshires opened up a lot of eyes and presented “third party” alternatives to Mainstream Politics as viable to an electorate so fed up that they do not vote.

      • JB
        November 8, 2010 at 11:53 am #

        I still say most of the non-voting is due to laziness and not apathy. Prove me wrong.

  2. carol
    November 8, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    As the parent of a sixth grade girl and two younger sons, I appreciate your comments regarding the digital native generation. I set strict electronic limits for my daughter and can see the benefits. Unfortunately, she goes to a middle school where History/ Geography is relegated to a half year course, so that an extra math period can be added to improve the school’s MCAS scores. The library in her school does not have a full time library, so the students have limited access. The city library has no young adult library either. Is it no wonder these kids are disengaged aqnd lack intellectual curiousity? We adults have created this generation and owe it to them to give them the right opportunities for learning and engagement.

    • danvalenti
      November 8, 2010 at 11:04 am #

      These are astute observations from some who’s trying to be a great parent in a most trying time. The Berkshire Athenaeum does have a section for youth. Ask at the front desk. The middle schools would be the place to launch a total reform of the way we handle public education. History/geography have been abandoned, sadly. We do owe it to these kids, but who’s going to lead the charge? The politicians? Administrators? School committee? Where have THEY been these many years? Thanks for the post.

      • carol
        November 8, 2010 at 11:44 am #

        Just wanted to correct a typo from my first post. The Atheneum does indeed have a young adult section upstairs, but has no librarian to staff it.

  3. danvalenti
    November 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Such a negative can’t be “proven,” though you are onto something. The laziness stems from ignorance and complacency, which stems from an educational crisis and too many creature comforts, which stems … you get the drift. Thanks for the post.

  4. Jim Gleason
    November 9, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    Not voting because of apathy, laziness or any other excuse is no excuse. I have many health problems, including two amputated legs, and have NEVER missed an opportunity to vote. It also seems that the people who don’t vote are the ones complaining the loudest, except i n my case of course. BTW, the Pats are playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh this week. Two losses in a row loom, while the JETS will dominate the Browns this week. First by a game for the JETS, book it.

  5. klebebanddruck
    December 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    There is visibly a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.