Life As Jazz – Part 2

wpid-iu-9-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

Part 2 of 3

To the foundations of beat and chords, including harmony, we can now look at melody. Sometimes we use a tune or song to refer to the melody of music. Melody is a musical idea that is developed to lead the music somewhere; to say something and perhaps convey a message, emotions or feelings. The beat and chords support these. The melody is often a poem set to music. A person who composes the song, tune, melody may begin with words and set them to music, or they may begin with music and compose words to fit the music. Often it can be a combination of both.

What then happens with jazz? Jazz is about taking the components of beat, chords/harmony and melody and using them as a starting point to creatively develop something new and spontaneous. In jazz there is the opportunity for participants to individually do this as a solo while fully supported by all the other participants. All the other participants, not only back up and support the individual creative process, they must listen and work together in what could be said as a true democratic process. They draw from the soloist and others to build and construct a performance that is inspired, innovative and improvised. This is the foundation of a jazz performance. It is improvised based on the music and how each musician feels at the moment. Therefore, no two performances of a piece of music are the same.

wpid-iu-8-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

This is jazz music in a nutshell. Jazz music has developed over time to be simple or complex or both at the same time. There are many styles of jazz music and some has been written and arranged, although many may argue that you simply can’t write down real jazz. Some written music captures some of the feel of jazz music and allows for a large group of musicians to have a framework to play together and still allow for individual expression of creativity, emotions, feelings through improvisation of solos.

How can we take the essence of jazz music and apply it to living our daily lives? In some ways, it may seem as if many of us already do this, that this is just how life is. I would say that this is how life is meant to be, however it can be robbed from us. If our lives are sort of jazz-like in that we are always taking the framework of our constructed life and improvising as we live, how are we robbed of our jazz and what can we do to protect and live a more jazz-like lifestyle?

If we each take a close look at our daily life, we can see that it comprises the structure needed to function as a group in society and should allow for times of free creative expression through innovation and inspiration. Perhaps we even get to solo. The more we have times of jazz, the more human we feel. If our life becomes too constricted, or we become overwhelmed by aspects of our lives, we feel less human. We can become dehumanized.

wpid-iur-1-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

As with jazz music, we need both the structure, the composed music that brings people together, and we need the opportunity for jazz expression. It must be balanced. If there is too much structure, there is no freedom. If there is too much freedom, it becomes difficult for people to be together in harmony. How much structure and composition and how much jazz freedom is right depends on each person and each situation. We need to be on the lookout for that which may be robbing us of our jazz.

Finding ways to ensure we have the right balance of composition and jazz means we need to pay attention and take our solos when the opportunity arises. We must listen to each other and agree with them in harmony. We need to follow the beat and make contributions as we find our space. Perhaps we can regularly ask ourselves, ‘Am I living my jazz?’

wpid-quotation-herbie-hancock-musicians-sense-jazz-music-inspiration-meetville-quotes-277513-2015-04-4-00-34.jpg

Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Life As Jazz – Part 1

wpid-iu-10-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

Part 1 of 3

The beginnings of jazz go back to the tribal beats from black African and West Indies slaves. Can we say that these people were savages? Or did they have a society that was simply different from the European-based societies of those who took them and made them slaves. It can seem now that making slaves out of fellow humans is actually savage.

Can we assume that these people were living civilized lives in places that might have included wild jungles. Could we learn from going back before slavery in Europe and America? Perhaps the perception of wild and savage black jungle dwelling people needs to be unpacked and demystified.

I have to admit that I don’t know enough about this. It is not part of the history books. Why would it, since showing that the people who were taken to be slaves actually had a civilized society in what might seem a wild environment compared to the cities of Europe and America?

wpid-iu-12-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

If this is true, then we can see a cycle of humans being uncivilized, becoming civilized and then de-civilized once again and then a re-civilizing. The white people who took slaves were part of a civilization that once had to conquer an uncivilized world of some sort. In taking other human beings, dehumanizing them by saying that being black and from a different ‘uncivilized’ part of the world, makes them savage and less than human, is actually a de-civilizing approach to life. It is not civil to dehumanize. Slavery dehumanizes.

Could this idea of cycling from uncivilized to civilized to de-civilized and then re-civilizing be common in other parts of human history? It would be worth exploring this.

wpid-iu-13-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

Where does jazz music fit into the picture? Jazz music emerged from the black slaves of America. Why did it not also emerge from the slaves in Europe? Could it be that the Europeans already had a musical and artistic tradition that had developed over centuries? America was young and the arts could reflect the lack of tradition and find something new. There were many flavours of art pouring into the new societies of America. They came from many parts of Europe and other parts of the world. For the black people who were being brought into the new American societies, it was a world where many forms of music from other places in the world, mostly Europe, could be melted together—including their own.

Perhaps it was the musical foundation of the beats that formed the basis of the new music that would eventually become jazz. The beats of the music of the black people had once civilized and humanized these people to live in what would seem to city people as wild jungles. Even today, African music has a harmonic togetherness and a swing that is uplifting to the soul.

wpid-iu-2-2015-04-4-00-25.png

Notice the word ‘harmonic’ or ‘harmony.’ If the beats introduced by the black people were a foundation, harmony was another aspect they also brought to American music. A truly human civilization means living in harmony with each other and the environment. Harmony is produced when more than one note sounds at the same time, yet are harmonically related and form the basis of chords.

Chord: Middle English cord, from accord. The spelling change in the 18th century was due to confusion with chord. The original sense was ‘agreement, reconciliation,’ later ‘a musical concord or harmonious sound’; the current sense dates from the mid 18th century.

Harmony and agreement are very humanizing. They bring peace. This sounds very civil. We often hear someone say that we need to live in ‘peace and harmony.’ We are in agreement with each other, we are in ‘one accord.’

wpid-iu-1-2015-04-4-00-25.png

Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

The lullaby of The Technojungle

“The numbing affect that technology has on us. Kind of lulling us into a false sense of security.”

The above came from a publisher friend in a reply to one of my E-mails. Not long after I received it, I awoke one morning with these two sentences at the front of my mind and the word ‘lull’ leaping out and rolling around in my thoughts as if a revelation.

wpid-iu-2-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

To be lulled is to be calmed and soothed to sleep; to give or lead to feel a false sense of safety; cause to be less alert, aware, or watchful; to cause (someone) to feel safe and relaxed instead of careful and alert; to cause to relax vigilance <were lulled into a false sense of security>.

wpid-iu-3-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

This is a time when people can become almost drunk with technology. Our gadgets can soothe and entice us. Go to a coffee shop, dentist or doctor’s office, or any place where people gather and where they once may have read a magazine or entered into conversation with each other, you will find so many peering into their gadgets, immersed and captivated.

I go from room to room in my house and carry with me my smartphone, just in case I get a call. This just happened. I was out of the room for only a minute and the phone rang. I had to run to catch it. When I first heard of online banking, I said to myself, “I will never do that, I know how unsafe the Internet is.” I must confess, I have been lulled into online banking.

Even when we know better, we can easily be lulled in. When it comes to technology, we need to be vigilant and carefully intentional in how we allow it into our life. If we are not, we risk being consumed by the expansion of technology in our society that competes for our attention.

wpid-iur-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

For many people, technology is security in a world of complexities that can bring anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. In these times of constant rapid change and dangers of terrorism, we feel the need to be informed and connected to each other. Yet technology works both ways—good and bad. The more technology we have to make us feel secure, the more technology we need to maintain that security. Consider the technologies use in warfare. They don’t end war or even make it better, so often they make it worse. Gunpowder was going to end war. Even with very sophisticated technologies, errors occur that kill innocent people.

wpid-iu-4-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

We need to keep in mind that as we nestle with our comforting and ever growing technologies, older technologies sneak up on us and can deliver us a surprise. The war on terrorism proves this. While consumed fighting the high-tech side, someone walks in with an old fashioned bomb.

wpid-iu-5-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

Most corporations, including financial institutions, fight constant attacks from cyber criminals who breach the security systems of their computers in what can only be described as common and inevitable cyber terrorism. If only we knew what truly goes on with cyber terrorism daily behind the scenes of our lives, we would lose any confidence we have in the systems of our society. There is an on-going escalation of technology to provide security in the flimsy online world we have come to rely on.

wpid-law-order-security_system-false_sense_of_security-security-shoplifter-crimes-mban1750_low-2014-12-9-08-07.jpg

What goes hand in hand with security is privacy. It seems a safer world where everything is monitored by cameras. Even where cameras are not yet permanently mounted, everyone has one in their phone and someone is always perfectly willing to capture an event. With facial recognition software, evil doers can be picked out of a crowd. This all sounds like it brings a safer more secure world, yet, we give up our privacy. This seems to be part of an axiom these days. That technology feeds us security which we pay for with our privacy. Sometimes we lose both our security and privacy at the same time.

wpid-iu-6-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

The smartphone seems to have become the security blanket for many people. While allowing us to connect with each other at will, it also reveals where we are. All cellphones constantly tell the service provider where they are. Want to make sure you can track everyone, make sure everyone has a cell phone. How do you make sure everyone has a cell phone, make smartphones that can do things that people can’t do without. Interestingly, someone was just telling me of a trend back to regular cellphones. Dumbphones?

wpid-iu-2014-12-9-08-07.png

Everything we do involving the Internet leaves a trail. Each one of us is leaving our footprints on computer servers all over the world to be tracked and followed by those who might seek us, such as advertisers. One might say they don’t care about advertisers, or anyone else following them, however, if advertising did not work to influence our lives, companies would not spend trillions of dollars on it.

People seem all to willing to post much of their life on social media, thereby surrendering, piece by piece, their privacy and security—who they are. You are your privacy and security; it is a huge aspect of you. Social medias are not free services, they turn their users into products and their information into profit by selling links to advertisers. It could be one of the greatest scams ever.

wpid-iur-1-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

Sure the sea of information out there in the cyber world may be seen as a place where your information is lost in the abyss with others. Yet today vast super computing power can search that information to discover valuable chunks of data that can be linked together and used for purposes we could never imagine. As more devices become computerized and ‘smart,’ there will be an explosion of information gathering. As we look toward the horizon of technological change we see computers with artificial intelligence out-thinking humans and using all this gathered information.

wpid-iu-2014-12-9-08-071.png

There are times of the year such as during the post-holiday lull when we often look for relief from the doldrums of life. Let us remember that we need to be wary of the numbing affects of technology and not be lulled into a false sense of security. This is a time when we must learn how to be more human and not fooled by the temptations of technology.

wpid-iu-2014-12-9-08-07.jpeg

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

An $11,000.00 Compromise

From May 2013:

Last week I found out I was attacked by an identity theft.

I was doggie sitting for the weekend and was in Safeway to get some milk when I received an automated, not human, call from TD (Toronto Dominion) VISA informing me that they had flagged some unusual transactions on my account and asked if I had made a certain large purchase. When I said, ‘no,’ I was asked to stay on the line, presumably for a real person, or I could call back. A grocery store was not the place to deal with this. When I called back, I discovered that someone had racked up around $11,000.00 in Toronto during three days. I was told that I was not responsible for these charges and that my card had been cancelled. I just got it not long ago, so I was not reliant on it. The charges will remain while they launch an investigation. The girl was very nice and made me feel comfortable that this would not be a huge inconvenience to me. I suppose, in the back of my mind, I knew this was just the start of trouble.

wpid-iu-2014-10-30-17-04.jpeg

One other time, I had another card just canceled out of the blue. Their explanation was that the number of my card fell within a range of numbers that they suspected might have been compromised. Just to be safe, my card was cancelled and I had to wait for a couple of weeks for a new one. This is a good reason to have more than one card, otherwise one would have to resort to cash or some other form of transaction.

Just exactly what compromise really means is a bit unclear to me. Do these thieves get just my card number, or can they get other information? These days, there is so much information out in the abyss of the technojungle. One piece of information can easily be linked to other information. Just with a name and city, one can get addresses and phone numbers. That represents your physical footprint. You also have a digital footprint that can start with your E-mail or your social media links. We should have great concern for privacy and security.

The attack on my identity was not isolated to my VISA card. They tried to open an account with Rogers. Since I already have an account with Rogers they decided to not issue another account and promptly sent out a letter to me. When I called them, I was told to call their fraud department. That department was closed for the day, so I called the next day. I was advised to check with Equifax and TransUnion.

My first call was to Equinox, since I had heard the name before and understood that they had something to do with credit ratings. I entered an endless phone tree. It was completely automated. I could order a copy of my credit rating, get various reports and access a variety of other services. I got frustrated and hung up.

My next call was to TransUnion. I began the same endless journey through the phone tree. At one point, the voice stated, “If this is about fraud, say fraud.” The words had hardly left my lips when a real human voice came on. The heavy accent and poor pronunciation alerted me to the possibility that this person was not in Canada and probably did not have much authority, and that this might actually turn out to be more frustrating than the call I had made to Equifax.

He looked into my account/profile and said that Rogers had made some sort of request and then he asked if I wanted to report the Rogers request as fraud. I said no. Why would I do that? They told me to call TransUnion because of a fraudulent request made to them. We entered a conversation circle during which he must have asked me at least three times if I wanted to report the Rogers request as fraud.

Not far into our conversation and after mis-pronouncing my last name as Grawhome, he decided that he needed to verify some information. “Do you live at XXXX Rygeawood?” I told him that we have moved. He repeated and I insisted that we no longer live at that address and had moved some years ago. He told me I had to have the information updated. OK, I agreed, let’s do it. Not so fast. He informed me that I would need to send a registered letter and $5 to have the information changed.

Wait a minute. I explained that I never engaged them in any service agreement, that the company was keeping information about me without my permission and selling it to corporations and back to the individuals they track and now they want to charge me to have them correct information that they have wrong. I’m sorry, I don’t think that is right. If I had engaged their services and neglected to send in an address change when I moved, as I did with all the other services I was using, I could understand charging me to make a change. I was frustrated and hung up.

It seems like every couple of days we are hearing of breaches in security due to cyber crimes and yet, we are encouraged to do more online and adopt more technology. Wouldn’t this normally fall under the definition of insanity?

If we look carefully at our society, we find that our behaviour might well be explained by an addiction fed by large-scale multinational corporations that literally have no regard for us as humans, but only to forwarding their own agenda that has ‘make money’ at the top of the list. It would also follow that ensuring most of the ‘problems’ associated with a technology should not be publicized so users’ confidence would not be diminished. In other words, don’t tell people what goes wrong, just recoup the costs through higher fees and make sure more people use more credit cards more often so that we (the corporation that is) can make more money and the corporation will grow. Never mind that a large number of customers are never able to pay their balance off and feed the corporation even more through paying interest.

A credit card is a perfect example of technology that has inherent problems that, not only inconvenience people, but end up creating greater costs. To think that I am not responsible for the transaction is somewhat false. If the costs are not recouped from the perpetrator(s) of the crime, then someone has to pay. VISA is not going to cover the costs. They are out to make money. Do they have some sort of insurance? No matter how you look at it, the costs of fraudulent transactions most likely get passed on.

If you pay a fee for your card, then that fee probably goes toward covering losses. The same could probably be said for merchant transactions. Every time you use your credit card, the store pays a fee. Oh, and let’s not forget interest on unpaid balances. If the losses to the credit card company increase due to fraudulent charges, they will most certainly pass the cost on to us. If transaction fees to merchants need to increase, that increase will be reflected in higher prices to consumers.

VISA is not telling me that I don’t have to cover the fraudulent charges directly, I have to cover a portion of all the fraudulent charges on all the credit cards issued by VISA.

Think about it. The fraudulent charges on my VISA card amounted to more than I spend on the card all year. Now how does that work out? This may be the reason cash could be with us for a long time.

We all need to look at protecting ourselves. I don’t know how my credit card was compromised. Nobody has been able to tell me, so I don’t know how to plug the hole. Did somebody hack into a database somewhere? Was there a card reader device of some sort used to read my card when I used it somewhere? What happened?

The card did not have an RFID chip. I keep my chip cards in a protective wallet. Chip cards can be scanned without having to insert them into a machine or tap them on a reader. They can be scanned right from your pocket.

The truth is that this type of crime is becoming so common place that many people in our society just take it for granted. As I talk to people, they all have some sort of story about what happened to them or someone they know. Should we just let this become part of everyday life in the technojungle?

While personal identity theft is a big problem, corporate cyber attacks are a huge problem. If we only knew what really happens out there, we might lose confidence in more that just the banking and financial systems.

Update:

It took many weeks for the charges to be removed from my account. In the meantime, I was charged interest. Finally, I was sent an affidavit to sign stating that the charges had been removed. The problem, they missed six of them. I even noticed that charges were made even after the card had been cancelled.

As the weeks passed, I discovered I did not have enough accounting skills to figure out what they had done and where my account stood. I was on the phone many times. I had been told to list the missed fraudulent charges on the back of the affidavit and sign anyway. I was very reluctant to do that and protested, however, they convinced me to sign anyway.

In the end, I called again and complained that I was not an accountant and had no idea of what they had done, but I would accept the $183 positive balance on my account anyway.

I think I could be quite comfortable going back to using only cash and making transactions in person with, what, a real human being. Nowadays, that would be quite a novel thing.

Remember, always expect the unexpected and always keep in mind that the future never arrives, at least not as expected and it brings baggage.

Let’s think about it!

© 2014 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Scanning and skimming for the message (as published in The Light Magazine)

In the olden days of the newspaper business, not so long ago, newspapers sold advertising and the reporters wrote to fill the spaces left over. Because it was difficult to determine the exact size of the hole the story would fill, writers were required to write so that the piece could be chopped at any point and still convey the most important points. Phototypesetting machines turned out long strips of paper called galleys. These paper strips were waxed and pasted-up on a large sheet of paper the size of the newspaper page with a grid printed on it. This grid sheet caused the galley of text to flow around the advertising. When the space was filled, the galley was chopped with a razor blade. Many readers actually read the entire paper in those days.

While advertising still drives the space for content, the way newspapers are read has somewhat changed, thanks to the Internet. Most people today are immersed in an overwhelming sea of various types of information from numerous sources. It is not humanly possible to keep up. E-mail alone can occupy a large portion of reading time. The result of this information overload is that we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. Worried that we might miss something important, we scan the newspaper, or any other information source, for what might be important. When we think we have found something, we skim it.

Scanning and skimming is not new; however it has become an essential skill. If we cultivate this skill, we can learn to spot important information, such as medically-related, and gain necessary time to be able to read it properly. An important aspect of life in the information age is the amount of noise. Noise is considered the not important information that vies for our attention. Remove it and what is left is considered the signal, or main message that is important to you.

Today, instead of in-depth content, we find space-constricted print and click-driven eContent. As printing becomes more expensive and an environmental concern, more content is migrating to the Internet, combined with other media. Take a look around at online content. Much of it is spread among many pages. Advertising costs in print are based on the portion of a page consumed and the position in the publication. In the online world, advertisers pay for clicks. A page with shorter content costs the same as a long page of content. Splitting the content up can generate more clicks and thus more revenue for the publication. While a long page is harder to read, the extra click can mean the loss of the reader, if they decide they have read enough.

We are an attention-split society. This ball we call Earth is becoming like a giant brain with expanding networks of neurones. It overwhelms us with information as our attention span keep shrinking. Young people find they must do several things at once in a desperate attempt to keep up. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the millennial generation is spending 18 cumulative hours a day on media.

My kids gave up on E-mail years ago. We were told to use texting if we wanted to communicate with them. Text is an on-going short conversation that slips away. There is a sense among many youth that nothing is important or has value. Having to deal with an E-mail inbox that keeps filling up requires too much time.

What does all this mean for Christians? According to the Barna Group, a Christian research organization, ‘…while the Church is often accused of being several steps behind the culture at large, Barna’s research shows practicing Christians want to keep up with culture and trends just as much as anyone else…’ They continue with ‘…people want to be culturally informed, but they are becoming accustomed to skimming content.’ Yet in today’s 24-hour news cycle, “keeping up” can be hard work. The socialization of news has created an international, ongoing conversation that never sleeps.’

We need to become the editor for our lives. Armed with our virtual razor blade, we need to chop the galleys of endless text and other media that we don’t need to read—think noise. I admit that I have to develop my skills. Like any skill, it takes a concerted effort to develop. I encourage you to join me in focusing on skimming media carefully and then scanning contents for the message. Say no to noise and yes to the Message.

Editors Note: Is there something you want to say? Send in your Viewpoint (500 – 750 words) to editor@lightmagazine.ca. Please note we cannot gaurantee publication of all the pieces we recieve.

September 2014 (2014-08-26)

 

 

Let’s think about it!

© 2014 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

We could watch the world in a tube

wpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.gif

In my life during 1965, the television was probably the most influential piece of technology. The invention of the television might well be connected to the telephone, another important influencer. In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell took sealed documents to the Smithsonian Institute. Word got out that the documents described an invention called a “photophone” that could send images mechanically. This started a flurry of activity and controversy. There was an illustration in Punch’s Almanac for 1879 depicting a “telephonoscope.”

In the early days, actually for most of its history, the TV was a box with a large cathode ray tube (CRT) inside that held the world ready for viewing. Without getting too technical and yet still describe the difference between the CRT TV and the TV of 2015, the cathode ray tube was a triangular shaped tube with an electron gun in the pointed part at the back of the TV. It was so long that there was a bump that stuck out five or six inches at the back of the TV, making it difficult to push the huge unit close to the wall. The front of the tube was the viewing surface and was round in the early days, but square in most cases by 1965.

wpid-iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

We actually had a round TV in a very large cabinet. It was a colour TV, which was a very new thing in those days. A couple of years prior to 1965, TVs began to go from black and white, actually a sort of bluish colour, to being wonderful “living” colour. I can remember the neighbours having the first colour TV. One of the first TV shows to be broadcast in colour was The Wonderful World of Disney, probably because they had a lot of colour content, from cartoons to movies, they could use. We would go over to the neighbours to watch Disney.

wpid-th-7-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

It took quite a few years before most TV shows were in colour. Colour was an expensive process. There were only a half-dozen, or less, channels in those days, depending on where you lived. The stations were broadcast from local transmitters and the TV would pick up the broadcast with rabbit ears. Rabbit ears were two long metal telescopic spikes called antennas or aerials that pointed at an angle in opposite directions but came together at the bottom to form a V-shape where they connected in a small box with a wire that lead to the TV. Some people actually had a large antenna mounted on the roof of their house and a wire stretched from the roof to the TV set.

wpid-iu-6-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

wpid-iu-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

CRT TVs were not instant on. Often the volume knob was the on switch. One would turn the knob, it would click to on and then turn a little more to get the desired volume. But wait. Yes, wait. Both the CRT and the audio amplifier used tubes and thus had to warm up for many seconds. First, a small dot of light would appear in the centre of the screen. Sometime a flicker and soon an image would appear that might be distorted until all the tubes were warm in the TV set.

That might be only the start. One might have to adjust the antennas to get the best reception. Sometimes the TV set might need other adjustments. I mentioned a bit about the CRT earlier and said it was a gun. I’ll try to explain this as simply as I can without looking up the exact details of how it worked. I just want you to get the idea behind the device.

wpid-1____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

The electron gun shot a beam to the front of the CRT which was coated with something, perhaps it was phosphorus. The phosphorus would light up. The beam could be directed to different places on the screen and the way the screen was filled with an image was to have the gun draw or scan lines across the screen. If one were to look very closely at the image on the screen they would see these scanned lines. I think there were around 525 lines and I don’t think this could be altered. If one had a larger TV, the scan lines would be larger. The gun would make a line across the top of the screen from left to right and then move down and draw another line, repeating to draw more lines until it reached the bottom of the screen where it would go back to the top and start again. All this happened so fast that the whole screen looked lit-up. The actual image was probably produced by varying the intensity of the beam. Less intensity at a certain point on the screen would produce a darker image. A colour TV had three guns, red, blue and green that would combine to scan colour on to the screen.

horizontal

Modern TVs use a liquid crystal display (LCD) or light emitting diode (LED) screen. This technology does away with the gun at the back of a big CRT and thus allows for the screen to be very thin. TVs are no longer boxes and large pieces of furniture. Because they are solid state digital technology with no tubes, they can be instant on and not restricted by the number of lines that can be scanned on the screen. They have other issues that govern the quality of the image which are outside the scope of this article.

wpid-0702_dayintech_full-2014-09-2-14-16.jpgwpid-1929-western-television-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

wpid-1____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.gif

The television was invented in the late 1920s. I think I remember seeing the first image that was ever broadcasted. It was of Felix the Cat. Television technology was expensive and the Great Depression and then World War II delayed the TV from becoming the massive personal and societal influencer it has become. Prosperity came after the war and so did many new appliances. Modern technology was gaining a deep foothold on North American life. Western societies were ready for the TV by the late 1940s.

During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, people either listened to the radio or went out to see a movie, play or other form of entertainment. TV allowed people to stay home and see the world from their own living room. It was a natural step from the radio in the living room, but with an important difference. With radio, the listener would sit back and imagine the scene that the audio was depicting. This kept the mind as an active participant. The TV, with both audio and image, was much more passive. One simply had to watch and listen. There was much less thinking.

As television became more popular, it was considered somewhat a threat to radio, just as radio had threatened the phonograph recording industry, which had threatened the live entertainment industry. The movie industry began to scramble to come up with many new technological features from wide-screen to 3D.

wpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.png

At first, shows were done as a stage play. The equipment was cumbersome and it was difficult to move around, so the viewer was sort of a member of the audience. It wasn’t long until more than one camera was being used. I think it was Desi Arnaz, the husband of Lucille Ball, and their I Love Lucy show that began to use more than one camera during the 1950s.

wpid-2____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-1____iu-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

Recording the television shows was very crude in the beginning. The kinescope was a process where a film camera was aimed at a TV to record the image on film. It was not long until the equipment became more compact and video tape recording was invented. Taping, allowed for shows to be delayed for better time periods different broadcast time zones, and for editing. As more satellites were put in orbit the possibilities of content were expanded since content could be gathered at one location and beamed to a satellite and then to another location in the world. It was in 1965 that the first commercial communication satellite, Intelsat 1, went into operation. Think for a moment how that event has changed the world.

wpid-iu-3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-3____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

 

This brings us to 1965. The Vietnam War was on and I can remember well my father watching Walter Cronkite anchor the 6 PM CBS Evening News with very graphic reporting of the Vietnam War. This was the other side of the world in a tube in our house—a war in a tube in our house—at dinner time. Never before had war come to the dinner table. To me, this is a stark marker in how society had changed.

wpid-1____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-southofthedmz1966-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

 

Even with radio, it was turned on primarily to listen to a show. Perhaps one might listen to some music or a drama. One would listen and imagine. Nothing else was done. By 1965, we were eating while watching TV, mothers would iron clothes while watching a soap opera drama. Children would come home from school and plop themselves down in front of the TV to be parented. Parents didn’t have to worry that their child might be out somewhere getting into trouble. The world had changed forever. You didn’t have to go out into the world, it could come to you in a tube.

wpid-iu-2-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

Actually, children of the TV generation were being raised by the media. You could believe anything just because it was on TV. Children demanded the latest toy and the latest sugar-coated cereal. Children no longer made toys out of whatever was around and diets became processed by machines, preserved by chemicals and instantized. We were told it was fun, or that it was good for us.

Many toys, such as the Frisbee and the Yo-Yo, became ever cemented into the toy chest through the popularization by TV. The pace of life picked up as we struggled to mould our lives around our favourite TV shows. Often, there was no time to cook a meal, so companies, such as Swanson, seized on the opportunity and invented TV dinners. Just take the foil tray out of the box and place the frozen meal in the oven and, by the time the first commercial comes on the TV—perhaps even an advertisement for a TV dinner—your meal is ready, all segmented into sections of the tray. There was one indentation in the foil tray for meat, one for vegetables and one for potatoes. If that was too much, you could simply stop off at Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken (now, because of our rapid lives, often shortened to KFC) and bring home a bucket with everything in it, just in time to unfold the TV trays (small folding flimsy tables) to see your TV show.

wpid-4____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

As modern life began to revolve more and more around the TV, we found we needed more and more TVs so each person could go to a separate room to watch their own favourite show. Just as with phones, why not have one in every room. I counted seven TVs in our house one day. One of our TVs was a Sony Trinitron. This TV ran for 30 years in our house and probably would have kept going had we not decided to move on to newer technology. Our Sony was one of what were commonly call portable TVs and generally had the rabbit ears built in.

wpid-television-sony-en-casa-de-mis-padres-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

We would come home and turn on the TV to see what was on. If you didn’t want to watch what was on one channel, you would get up and turn the tuner dial to another station. It would click for each number on the dial. By 1965, there were more stations coming on and one would have to sit next to the TV and turn the dial to see what other channels have on. If there was a commercial on a particular channel, you would have to check other channels and come back, or wait until the program resumed. By the time you had checked all the channels, the shows would be changing and you would have to start over and by then your tea or coffee, or your TV dinner, would be cold.

I think Zenith was one of the first to solve the problem. They came up with a remote control that worked by a button that would create an audio tone. One could turn the TV on or off, raise or lower the volume in steps and, of course, and change the channel. Voila, problem solved. Well, partially. You still had to check all the channels and there was no jumping, you moved up the channels sequentially. But, you could stay in your seat and eat your ice cream before it melted. The invention of the remote, also invented channel surfing. However, there was one problem. At my friend’s house there was one of these TVs with the remote control. Sometimes the doorbell or the telephone would ring and operate the TV because the remote operations were accomplished with audio tones.

wpid-21d08b922ce11f0d47430ad17a42f0b3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

 

Fifty years later, we have gone from a few channels to hundreds. It seems like we have more than the world in a tube. The TV has out-grown the tube. It is no longer the warm analog friend that was introducing us to the world in 1965. It is a digital portal to the universe. Gone are the rabbit ears; we now have a cable, like a giant pipe feeding us with whatever we want. Most channels do not go off the air in the middle of the night, displaying a test pattern. It all just keeps going as an endless flow ready to flood our minds at any time of the day or night. Television stations are no longer multinational corporations. Content providers who own the cables are no longer king. Content can come from a variety of sources and can be produced by almost anyone. The floodgates are open.

wpid-th-9-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-10-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-11-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

I remember well when I first heard the idea of a flat TV that could hang on the wall like a picture. I imagined a wall with pictures hanging on it and a TV somewhere in the middle. There were other ideas of 3D and an entire wall as a TV. Even a holographic TV similar to the imaging device seen in the Star Wars movie. I am watching to see if the new 3D TVs of today will be a fad as it was with the movies of the 1950s. Today, we can have a TV on a table, on the wall, in our lap, in our hand, in our car, almost anywhere and it comes with more than TV. TV is only one part of the multi-communicative devices we have at our fingertips.

Our current family TV is a Panasonic that sits on the mantle above the electric fireplace in our townhouse. It is connected to a sound system, a Blu-Ray disc player and the Internet. We can do Skype or watch YouTube videos among many other content sources which we seldom use. We do not subscribe to cable television, but seem to get a dozen channels that come with our Internet subscription. That seems to be plenty for us. Even with only a similar number of channels that I had in 1965, I can end up watching far too many hours of TV. It is mesmerizing. I can’t even imagine how I would settle on a show to actually watch if we could get hundreds of channels. It boggles my mind. So, I sit and flip back and forth sometimes trying to watch more than one show on the few channels we get and attempting to get some things done on my computer at the same time. How do people with everything do it?

wpid-1____iu-2-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-1____iu-3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-2____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-iu-4-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-8-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg