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The Shape I’m In
Charles R. Dickens

Another sleepless night in a continuum of sleepless nights awash with absurd dreams – It’s early morning. There’s no stopping the torrent of thoughts careening through my mind, so I don’t even try. It’s all a perplexing tangle of knowledge and fear. The enigmatic reports of my overall health and the myriad things left to chance create a vexing presurgery dilemma.

One incessant, persistent thought – You don’t know The Shape I’m In.

I keep returning to Hippocrates’ assertion that the person and the illness are inextricably joined. He understood that health is holistic – meaning that where the mind goes, the body follows. Recent research proves that mindset has a powerful impact on our health. So says a 2021 study by Stanford University.

Funny, the shape I’m in is coincident with our society and republic. It’s all part and parcel of my uneasiness; as Hippocrates extols the link between patient and illness, I am linked to America – by choice

I admit that I approach this surgical event with considerable perturbation. I feel like I’m standing at the top of a very dark descending staircase, expected to step into the unknown. A step I would take without hesitation as a young man, but I am not.

It’s a perfect analogy for our country’s current situation. We know we must act, but we fear the unknown, just like me.

Surveying the Media Info Feeds (MIF) doesn’t help; it probably foments my apprehension, but it redirects and distracts my conscious mind, diverting my anxiety about the next few days.

What words can describe the situations we face as a Constitutional Republic? I found this sentiment written by a relative in 1859. It’s the opening paragraph from “A Tale of Two Cities.” You can read the entire novel at ‘Metropolis.Cafe’, but pay particular attention to the opening paragraph; this is the sentiment I wish to echo.

To paraphrase:

We have everything, yet do nothing with it. We know everything, yet we are abjectly, willfully ignorant and use this knowledge to selfish ends. We have every opportunity, yet we are morally bankrupt. We acknowledge the need for our higher power and use every available resource to deny and refute that need.

Please answer these two simple rhetorical questions.

Why are we in this present situation?

How can we fix it?

If answers elude you, we are lost because we know what must be done but refuse to do it.

“Beware of ignorance when in motion; look out for inexperience when in action, and beware of the majority when mentally poisoned with misinformation, for collective ignorance does not become wisdom.” ~ WJH Boetker

I don’t need to list the elements of this shit-storm. We meet them every moment of every day. The MIF won’t let us be distracted for too long. They make damn sure we remain focused, and don’t forget these elements are unavoidable. They’re so ingrained that we see them everywhere we look, but we don’t really see them for what they are or represent. MIF sees to that.

I watched a couple of MIF-flix this morning. Media Info Feed Flix (MIF-Flix) are the interesting video montages included in Blurb-Blast – mass Email. Each montage selects the appropriate bits that sell the agenda regardless of the story’s original intent. The context, in this case, is a paradox.

You’ve all nibbled at the clickbait, wondering what in the hell this quote, statement, image, or link is?

Now we’re hooked.

Each click on that innocuous image, news story, or link reinforces the advertiser’s data about your preferences. Think about that.

This bait is so well designed and monitored that it gives the advertiser all the information needed to keep you hooked and nibbling. They’ll feed you the exact information you select when you click, supporting your interests, demographics, salary ranges, political persuasion, sexual orientation, pronouns, beliefs, and even faiths.

It is all provided when you nibble the bait. Each subsequent click reinforces and substantiates that data.

You’ve heard the mention of algorithms – this is one area where they come into play. These calculations and subsequent decisions feed data to the advertisers to better define your particular interest catalog – the bait you see keeps you coming back for more and further refines your digital fingerprint. Think digital DNA.

Here’s a little test to prove my point. Go to Amazon, Pinterest, or your choice of interweb shopping sites. Select an item of interest and look through the alternatives. The next time you log in, that item and options will be on the welcome page. You might even get emails with various offers for like items.

Those same algorithms are used in every form of advertising – including – the MIF.

Here’s the adjunct. Your click and clique history data are for sale through corporations called ‘data-miners’ who sift this data to fill the ordering company’s specified data components requests. Even political parties use this data to feed you information to sway, confirm, and affirm your choices.

The well of information about each of us is very, very deep. Everything anyone wants to know is available from these data miners. And who do you suppose has an enormous trove of data? Who’s been monitoring every bit and byte of data since well before September 11th, 2001? We gave them our permission with the Patriot Act! We had no idea that our government had been collecting this data for many years.

By the way, your cellular phone calls and texts are also data. Our government has petabytes of information.

How big is a petabyte? It would hold the 11,000 4K movies and require 2.5 years of continual viewing. The entire library of congress would require 20 petabytes. That’s 167 million items with over 39 million books and other print material.

Your cellphone is also a tracker. Did you know that our government knows where you are and everywhere you’ve been?

Why do you suppose they want everyone to have a cell phone?

Yes, you can turn off the ‘locator’ on the device, but every time you use it – text, call, or data request – you ‘ping’ local cell towers that triangulate and register your location.

Topic and content are inconsequential; the MIF is all-important. These are well-tailored presentations reinforcing the political message and agenda of the sender, corresponding with and catering to your preferences.

Yes, you get it.

They are advertising.


* The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.

Paid announcements

We can all agree that the media supports one of these political ideologies.

* Liberal

* Moderate – Centrist

* Conservative

Sure, there are permutations and splinter groups in each, but these are the root groups.

So how in the world do these ‘advertisers’ keep us focused?

If you are a Liberal, how likely are you to select a conservative MIF?

How likely are you to choose a liberal MIF source if you’re a conservative?

How can you expect a balanced view of America when you live solely in a partisan community; Conservative, Moderate, or liberal?

Can you see the problem proffered by MIF with a focused ideology or partisan leaning?

Wouldn’t this segregated focus serve to reinforce divisiveness?

YES, it would and does.

The owners of this country are counting on it. Your online choices refine and reinforce their advertising campaigns keeping us focused on a specific message tailored to our digital catalog.

The MIFs are telling you what you want to hear!

Why is the practice of ‘divide and conquer so effective?

Go back to your history of the Moguls conquest of Asia, Alexander the Great, or the Roman Empire.

Why were they so successful and influential?

How did they conquer the world?

They recognized the smaller the groups, the easier it is to control and conquer.

You cannot manage 330 million Americans, but when fracture them into multiple groups like:

Indigenous Peoples of North America










Ad infinitum, ad nauseum…

The smaller the group, the easier they are to control.

Can you see the pattern yet?

Each of these segments of AMERICA has an advertiser – MIF – pandering to their ideology.

Their clicks and clique throughs identify them, ensuring they receive the appropriate messaging to cement the separation and fortify their fear of the other groups.

That’s all part of the algorithm, part of the master plan.

Name a MIF that provides fair and unbiased news coverage without commentary, opinion, and bloviation.

I’ll wait…

That is the conundrum of the century.

There are none.

Our owners don’t want a United States of America. They can’t control that, but they can manage the fractured tribal groups in what remains of America under an autocratic regime.

You don’t know the shape I’m in, but I can tell you why.

I am a product of my environment. No, I’m not talking about the planet’s ecology. Instead, I reference the world we create around us.

In 1826 Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer, politician, and famous gastronome, wrote, ‘Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.’ – You are what you eat.

The adjunct to this is Earl Nightengale’s 1937 repurpose of the phrase – “you become what you think about all day long.” – you are what you THINK!

We’re fed what we want to know from every possible MIF every second of every day.

It’s what we choose.
It is what we consume.
It is what we think.
It is what we are.

Now you know the shape we’re in ~  I’m in.

That’s it for a while.

I’ll keep you posted when I transition from apprehension to recovery.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra ~

“It’s like Déjà vu all over again.”





Charles R. Dickens was born in 1951, is a veteran of the Vietnam, for which he volunteered, and the great-great grandson of the noted author, whose name he shares.

He is a fiercely proud American, who still believes this is the greatest country on the planet, with which we’ve lost control and certainly our direction. He grew up in moderate financial surrounding; were not rich by any stretch, but didn’t go hungry – his incredibly hard working father saw to that. As most from that era, he learned about life from his father, whose story would take too long to tell, other than to say that, he is also a fiercely proud American; a WWII and Korean war, veteran Marine.

Charlie was educated in the parochial system which, demanded that you actually learn something, and have capability to retain it before you advance. He attended several universities in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, and chased the goose further to a master’s, and has retained some very definite ideas about education in this country.

In addition, Charlie is a professional (struggling) blues guitar and vocalist – a musician. This is his therapy career. Nothing brings him as much joy as playing music, and he wishes that he could make a living at it… maybe some day!

That’s Charlie… a proud, opinionated, and passionate American.

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