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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breeding, Burping, Belching and Barfing our way to 'Blivion


I was responding to a brilliant post by R.J. Adams over at Sparrowchat on the fix we've all gotten ourselves into on this wondrous planet of ours when it hit me: the wealth of information on our current crisis that is at anyone's finger tips if they'd care to look for it. And not what MSM are telling us either.

But of course, I'm even more firmly convinced that most people (I'd say something like 95%) would rather go around fast asleep, they don't really want to know anything about our current conditions.

An ex of mine called today. Validating for me yet again why we are no longer together in marital bliss. He's a good man, but he really is snoring. He was ranting about the refusal of his city council to put in yet another Walmart type sprawl-store. Loss of jobs, he bleats, loss of tax revenue to the city, loss of farm acreage improvement. Council should just wake the f*** up. How does one argue with this, if argue one must considering all past arguments and arguments yet to come. Peace out, I decide, much like my mother did when it came to my father. Pearls to swine or something like that if I threw even the basic data at him.

Which gets me to some serious news on CBC radio the other night. Peak oil. This expert talking that we should have been preparing 20 years ago. But we haven't. And there is a massive looming crisis in oil shortage, like now this year, no oil for the pernicious automobile not to mention freight to get us our food or fertilizer for our crops. And no: technology is snoring behind the 8 ball. There is no technology. It will be sudden, massive and catastrophic. And we are twenty years behind.

And did you hear about the banks refusing to finance the farmers for seeds this spring? Connect the dots on that one.

And to quote Leonard Cohen: "I've seen the future, baby, it is murder" - read about the employment rate of 41% in Mendota, California, to get a glimpse of what this will look like for the rest of us waiting in the wings.

Meanwhile, here in North America, conditions for the 'bailouts' (Oh LOL on that one!) are now being set for the automakers to come up with some firm strategies. Kicking the dead dog over and over again. Dems Wot Rules Us have no answer and much like Kevin Rudd did when Oz went on fire, will tell us, at some point in 2009:


You're on your own!


Yes. We are.

'Blivion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Theft of Innocence


I’ve never seen this written about on a personal blog. I mean I’ve talked about it with friends, in recovery groups, in therapy and in discussions, but never have thrown it out there in an article or blog.

So here goes (and warning: there are possible triggers here for anyone who was sexually abused).

I was about 6 years old when my innocence was taken. There was this old fellow in a hut, a watchman, halfway down our newly built street, some of the houses weren’t yet finished and he’d watch the job sites after the workers left. He’d light a big fire in a brazier in front of the small wooden hut and he’d put me on his lap and touch my knickers and pay me a shilling not to tell anyone. I never did.

I was around nine when my innocence was taken again. Not in a brutal way. I wasn’t physically hurt. I was out walking with my little brother in his stroller, push-chairs we called them then, feeling very grown up as my mother had allowed me out beyond our gate and down the road with the baby for the first time, and this fellow, looking back he was under forty, jumped out at me from a hedge and exposed himself and asked me to touch him. He asked repeatedly working up to a threat that he would hurt me if I didn’t oblige him. I was rooted to the spot for what seemed like five minutes, but it was probably only a few seconds. I raced home and told my mother who told me to hush up and not to talk dirty.

I was thirteen when I was out fishing with a good friend of my father’s. I used to love fishing for pollock and really liked Patrick, my father’s farmer friend. We used to help him with threshing and churning the butter and working the separator and salting the fish.

I was shocked and very upset when he put a hand on my breast and squeezed it so hard it hurt. He told me if I didn’t stop crying he would do something worse. I was still shaking badly when I told my father later that evening. My father told me I was a liar, Patrick was a good man and me and my stories were not to be believed and I should tell the priest in confession what a rotten girl I was.

I was nineteen when the young local doctor of the small Italian town I was staying in took me out for dinner in San Marino and tried to rape me, my screaming and begging finally stopped his attempts and he didn’t speak to me again on the long ride home in his car. By that time I’d learned to keep my mouth shut and not tell anyone of sexual assault, of any kind.

It was all in my head, you see. I couldn’t be trusted. And I’m only writing a few of the bare bones here, there were more incidents but you catch my drift.

One time, I took an informal survey amongst the women I knew. And every single last one of them had been sexually interfered with before the age of consent. Some far, far worse than others. And there are degrees, I suppose. Some were abused by their fathers, or uncles or brothers or cousins. And their mothers told them to shut up. Some got pregnant. Some became infertile. All were traumatized.

One never gets over this. It affected my self-esteem, my relationships, my sexuality. It ruined my trust for a long, long time.

I still view the patriarchy and its acolyte, religion, with disrespect, distrust and disdain. It does not protect innocence. It does not cherish children. And it particularly despises females.

And I’m putting all this out there. Because I know I’m not alone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poverty


Poverty is a desperate thing. I caught a documentary there last week on the massive Famine emigration out of Ireland in the 1840's where most ports in North America were closed to the sick and desperate Irish who sailed off on the coffin ships - so called because of the deaths on board - and arrived at the mouth of the St. Lawrence here in Canada where the healthiest were then sent on to Toronto only to be met with hostility and fear in the face of their sickness and poverty.

I next read Jenny's post over at South Belfast Diary where she wrote about community services and how to expand them to encompass all strata of need.

And I got tweaked in the head, you know how that is, by a conversation my daughter and I had last summer.

"You know, Mum," she'd said, "The Irish government has like totally redefined poverty in very different terms and it's got nothing to do with money. It's things like the availability of the stuff you and I'd take for granted and not even think about."

So I got to digging around and found:

What is Consistent Poverty?
The official Government approved poverty measure used in Ireland is consistent poverty, developed independently by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). This measure identifies the proportion of people, from those with an income below a certain threshold (less than 60% of median income), who are deprived of two or more goods or services considered essential for a basic standard of living.
The consistent poverty measure was devised in 1987 using indicators of deprivation based on standards of living at that time. The Government in 2007 accepted the advice of the ESRI to revise the deprivation indicators to better reflect current living standards and, in particular, to focus to a greater degree on items reflecting social inclusion and participation in society. This resulted in the measure, originally based on lacking one or more items from an 8-item index, changing to one based on lacking two or more items from the following 11-item index:


1. Two pairs of strong shoes
2. A warm waterproof overcoat
3. Buy new not second-hand clothes
4. Eat meals with meat, chicken, fish (or vegetarian equivalent) every second day
5. Have a roast joint or its equivalent once a week
6. Had to go without heating during the last year through lack of money
7. Keep the home adequately warm
8. Buy presents for family or friends at least once a year
9. Replace any worn out furniture
10. Have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month
11. Have a morning, afternoon or evening out in the last fortnight, for entertainment


So simple and yet so unattainable for many, many citizens right now. The ever expanding homeless crisis in the U.S.A. particularly is truly alarming. I'd say that many are lacking most of what's on this list. And I'm aware also that you don't have to be homeless to be poor. And that loneliness and isolation are an intrinsic part of the problem.

And, H/T Ronni at Time Goes By, I quote from a fine article written by James K. Galbraith, son of Kenneth, writing last week in Washington Monthly which brings ubiqitous poverty even closer:

“For the first time since the 1930s, millions of American households are financially ruined. Families that two years ago enjoyed wealth in stocks and in their homes now have neither. Their 401(k)s have fallen by half, their mortgages are a burden, and their homes are an albatross. For many, the best strategy is to mail the keys to the bank...

“...the American middle class find today that its major source of wealth is the implicit value of Social Security and Medicare – illiquid and intangible but real and inalienable in a way that home and equity values are not. And so it will remain, as long as benefits are not cut.”


Note to self: make a food bank drop-off. ASAP.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An apology for gay marriage

Gee, I had a good giggle when I saw this. Well done, Portia!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Juxtaposition



OK. It's a great photo. I love the fact that she's getting down to gardening at the White House. But I can't help stopping in my tracks at the sight of what she's wearing, buckled shiny boots and a dress more suitable for a day in the office.

But I hope. I tell my inner cynic to STFU.

And then I look across the street and see my neighbour, washing his sidewalks and not content with that, washing the gutters around his property, combing his lawns, removing every leaf from last year's fall, every stray feather and pebble. Then he polishes the driveway. Hundreds of gallons of clean water splashing carelessly down the grates. Never was a man more servant to his vehicles and his buildings and his cement. {Sorry for the quality - I didn't want him to see me taking his photo!}



Give me Michelle. Any day.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Articulate, astute and accessible.



Mr. Barack Obama, in a precedent setting move, appeared on the Late Show tonight. The only thing ever wrong with the Late Show, in my opinion, is its host, Jay Leno, who has consistently given brand new definitions to smarm and misogyny. Tonight he didn't disappoint me, cracking off before the president appeared that he, Mr. Obama, was on the west coast only to escape his live-in mother-in-law. There are no depths to which Jay can't sink.

Pushing Jay to the back of my brain, I was able to enjoy the depth and understanding that Mr. Obama brings to the current economic meltdown and his plans for a resuscitation of the manufacturing base of the country long sojourned and outsourced.

Whether it will all come to pass is another story - there may be nothing left in the till.

However, his breathtaking grasp of the situation, his off the cuff style, his sense of 'the buck stops here' is awesome to behold and so refreshing after his sad and sorry predecessor.

Mr. Obama, in this appearance on main stream media (and I bet it was all his idea) has set a new benchmark for the accessibility of heads of government and I truly hope that others will follow.

Oh, and did I mention his charm?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Is Out-Of-Control Capitalism Killing Us All?


Over at AlterNet I was dismayed to read that products I had used, trusted and valued had been bought out by megacorporations in the last few years and yep, you guessed it, their organic ingredients had been modified or radically changed. Here was I, happily blundering along, thinking I was buying food for my table and products for my hair and face that were part of green conscious living. I was stooged.

And all the while, the behemoth corporation that had quietly bought these formerly small, organic little operations remained anonymous.

Reason? You need to ask? You think they were getting more socially responsible?

Sorry to disappoint – no, the only reason was so that huge profits could be reaped from the consumer who thought she was buying local, pure, organic ingredients.

The following is a partial listing of products and the giant corporations owning them.

Some are quite astonishing - imagine the biggest toxic chemical polluter, Clorox, owning Burt’s Bees?


Product
------------------>Megacorporatocracy

Burt’s Bees----------------------->Clorox

Converse-------------------------->Nike

The Body Shop--------------------->L’Oreal & Nestle

Tom’s of Maine-------------------->Colgate Palmolive

Odwalla Fresh Juices-------------->Coca-Cola

Most bottled water---------------->Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle
And this is a whole category unto itself. Most ‘brands’ are tap water and actually less healthy than what you can get out of your own tap. And think landfill.

Kashi cereals--------------------->Kellogg’s

Quaker Oats----------------------->Pepsi

Green & Black’s organic
Chocolate------------------------->Schweppe’s

Was ever a word more perverted than the word ‘organic’?

And oh yes, adding his wise words to this profiteering fest: Lee Scott, former CEO of Wal-Mart, said, "We are particularly excited about organic food, the fastest-growing category in all of food."

And somehow it all reminds me of the Electric Car and its killing:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit! (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

And to liven you up: here are some Irish traffic lights with a special green pedestrian instruction.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wisdom

This should be a required course for everyone on the planet, my favourite is Jane Goodall who says, and I paraphrase:

Every major decision should be as the aboriginals used to decide. It should be made in the light of how it will effect the seventh generation from now.

I would add my own personal mantra: Respect. And that means my rights end exactly where yours begin.

And oh what a magical world 'twould be if every politician, banker, CEO, CFO on down to the child in the playground had to follow all these principles.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Casablanca

Who doesn't love this movie? I just never get tired of it. I don't know how many times I've seen it and say the dialogue: "You played it for her, you can play it for me" and "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" along with the stars, sing: "You must remember this" as Dooley plays that piano and whisper: "We'll always have Paris" to myself.

This picture says it all, doesn't it? Romantic love sacrificed to a great cause. The noble fine gesture. Country before self and all that.

Was Humphrey ever so tough and manly, Ingrid ever so fragile?



The thing is, in real life Ingrid Bergman towered over the diminutive Humphrey Bogart.

So much so that he had to wear strapped on platform shoes. Here is a shot taken of his feet, relaxing between takes of the unforgettable movie, Casablanca:



Things are not always what they appear, n'est pas? Humphrey tottering around on these kinda spoils the image of the tough, shoot from the hip guy with the heart of gold.

And I truly wonder how they both kept straight faces during the filming.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Global Warming

This has to be one of the best YouTubes ever and it only takes a minute to watch:



A powerful message.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Grey BFF Explains Facebook



OK, I’m on Facebook, I have 8 friends of whom 80% are blood related to me. My granddaughter has, oh, over 300.

I joined at the urging of younger family, younger associates.

None of my contemporaries are on there. Well, correction, one is. I don’t particularly like her. Well, truth is I also don’t particularly recognise her. She is my age but has had a lot of scalpel adjustments so that every time I look at her I wonder who she is and then remember. Her hair extensions extend, oh lots, to add to my confusion. And her bikini as she sits on her Harley Davidson does not flatter her. Well, she must think it does, right? And that’s all that matters. I dropped her as a F2F friend for I found it challenging to be around her as she is always accompanied by a different cast member from a posse of young men from the third world with limited English that she likes to import for the summer season and coo at. They are young enough to be her grandsons. When she asked me to be her Facebook friend, I agreed. I’m stupid that way.

(You can see now why I like to remain anonymous on this blog, right?)

I heard a show on CBC radio the other day about this guy who tried to have a party for his Facebook friends, rented out a bar and everything. 250 were invited. And only one showed up, a friend of a friend that he didn’t know at all but had added her to his ‘friends’ because his buddy worked with her. His conclusion was that people are engaging in real time less and less with each other. Hence the spawn of Facebook: Twitter.

I can go on line and see my granddaughter goofing around with her friends and posting all sorts of hip stuff on her ‘wall’. (BTW, is ‘hip’ a word anymore?). When I do this I feel like I’m stalking her.

The thing is, there is no one of my own age, or even remotely near it to stalk. Apart from the aforementioned Diana. Who has 75 friends. Mostly offshore. And who must feel sorry for me, with my 8.

Facebook does my head in. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Super Model!

My blog buddy, Twilight, has a great post today on ageism. I find that many of my blog buddies are in sync with whatever marble is rolling around in my head. I’d been contemplating a marvellous and positive represention on this topic myself, you see.




Daphne Selfe is 80 years old and a leading model earning £1,000 per day on the catwalk (get a look at those heels, folks!!).


She is in her 60th year in the business.

She says her career was born again 11 years ago when she decided to embrace her aging and decided “her white hair was her fortune.”

She has also appeared in commercials for Nivea and Olay.

Isn't it great to know that not everyone is obsessed with youth and youthful images!

Monday, March 09, 2009

That Generation Thing

I'm going to sort all that out for you now.


The Silent generation: people born before 1946.

The Baby Boomers,:people born between 1946 and 1959.

Generation X: people born between 1960 and 1979.

Generation Y: people born between 1980 and 1995.




Why do we call the last one generation Y? I didn't know the answer to that but found a cartoonist who explains it all so elegantly and eloquently below...





Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Stranger in our Midst


A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our
small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this
enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The
stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young
mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors:
Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the
stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours
on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always
knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league
ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never
stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing
each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the
kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the
stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger
never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not
allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our
longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my
ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a
regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.

He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were
sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced
strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my
parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our
family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he
was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you
would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to
listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.


His name?.... .. .





We just call him 'TV.'

(Note: This should be required reading for every household in the world!)

P.S. He has a wife now...We call her 'Computer’

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Why Men Don't Write Advice Columns



Dear Walter,

I hope you can help me here. The other day, I set off for
work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I
hadn't driven more than a mile down the road when the engine conked
out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my
husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our
bedroom with the neighbour's daughter. I am 32, my husband is 34, and
the neighbour's daughter is 22. We have been married for ten years.
When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been
having an affair for the past six months.

I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was sacked
from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling
increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever
since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant.
He won't go to counseling and I'm afraid I
can't get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?

Sincerely,
Sheila


Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be
caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking
that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the
vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all
grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it
could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery
pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps.

Walter

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Unspeakable Part 2


Dear Bill:

As we stood in front of your daughter’s casket tonight you shared your personal story with me. Gently. Without self-pity, shame or blame.

Your mother died when you were five. There were five children and you were the eldest. Your father couldn’t cope so he put you into a home, you didn’t say what kind, the baby was adopted and the remaining three children were put into foster care. And your father vanished from your life.

You were able to reconnect with your siblings in later life, apart from the adopted brother whom you’ve never found. Four years ago, one of your brothers died suddenly of an aneurysm too. And it crosses your mind now, that that was probably the cause of your mother’s death as well. So you and your surviving son and daughter are having tests to determine if you are at risk. It would be dreadful to lose another child and perhaps it could be preventable.

You were overwhelmed with the turnout for your daughter, the funeral home was packed, the flowers banked around the casket, bulletin boards of her photos everywhere. You were so proud of her - she was responsible, honest, an excellent mother to her teenage daughter and a devoted wife to her husband who was of different race and religion. You were grateful that your younger daughter took charge of the funeral and all the arrangements as it was completely beyond your capacity to do so.

You named and aged your six grandchildren who were playing quietly in another room. As children do even when unbearable grief is all around them. Your face had that soft look around the edges that we get when all the tears have been wrung out of us and we feel as if our very skin could melt away leaving the raw bones.

You've had more pain than most, Bill. All I could think of was: how bloody unfair, how absolutely bloody awful is the rotten hand you’d been dealt in this game of life.

But you never said this.

You affirmed your faith was strong and you knew that your daughter, your firstborn, was in a better place.

I need you to know, Bill, that I admire your dignity and courage in the face of such overwhelming loss. I'm a little better as a person tonight, a little more grateful, a little more in the moment.

And for that, I thank you, Bill.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Unspeakable


Tonight I’m going to a funeral home. With my daughter.

A school friend of hers died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Leaving a fifteen-year-old daughter and a beloved husband. And her parents. I worked with this young woman’s mother back in the day and knew her daughter. Tonight I’m going there for the mother.

Last year while I was in Newfoundland, another friend lost her son, very suddenly. He had beaten cancer but died rapidly, and ironically, from pneumonia as his immune system was compromised from chemotherapy.

I grieved with her via mail and email and saw her last Saturday. Visible pain encased her whole body and it is eight months later. All one can do is hold her fragile body really tightly. There are absolutely no words.

I had dinner with my daughter last night and as regular readers will know, she is not well. Looking at her, I found it unimaginable to think of losing her.

Outliving one’s own child is by far the greatest tragedy of all.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Changing Landscapes

Newsweek has captured many of these changes in the latest edition. I intend to pursue photos of the more local in my community.



What strikes me most is the story I imagine behind this stark picture. The jobs lost, hundreds I would think, the rentals unpaid, the mental and emotional toll on the families affected.



This abandoned development in Florida tells the story of dashed dreams and lost opportunities. How long will it take for these houses to fold themselves back into the landscape?



And finally, this curved serene moonscape in Arizona, abandoned. Soon to be a blight on the landscape.

I'm left wondering why funds weren't allocated to plough these sad sites under with the prospect of arable land and the recently jobless workers gainfully trained and employed in small farming.

Surely this is a more pressing necessity with farmers now challenged with no funds for seeds for the planting season just ahead?

{All photos courtesy of Newsweek}

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Seven Years in Afghanistan=Bin Laden Still at Large+Tougher Al Qaeda


A country in economic freefall with wars invasions on one too many fronts is doomed for failure.

I can think of no instance in history where a nation has triumphed given all these strikes against it. We only need look at the Roman and British Empires for starters.

The military presence in Iraq, apart from the millions of 'collaterally damaged' innocent Iraqi civilians murdered and displaced has resulted in an incomprehensible number of injured, depressed and suicidal U.S. military veterans, many of whom roam the U.S. streets on their return. it will only be a matter of time before some go on a murderous rampage in the absence of funds to deal with their PTSDs.

Bob Herbert, whom I've long admired, in today's New York Times, writes of the two disastrous campaigns on these two beleagured countries. He says, in part, about Afghanistan:

We invaded Afghanistan more than seven years ago. We have not broken the back of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. We have not captured or killed Osama bin Laden. We don’t even have an escalation strategy, much less an exit strategy. An honest assessment of the situation, taking into account the woefully corrupt and ineffective Afghan government led by the hapless Hamid Karzai, would lead inexorably to such terms as fiasco and quagmire. Instead of cutting our losses, we appear to be doubling down.


Isn't it time someone, anyone, in the policical scene in Washington studied history?For was there never a more pressing time than now when we appear to be doomed to repeat it endlessly?

And maybe they'd, eureka!, discover that no invading army has ever, ever won in Afghanistan.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Genius of Bill Maher



Bill Maher can have his truly funny moments when he's not being misogynistic.

In this clip, he deals with how America sinks to a new low when the hottest application for the iphone is a farting noise. Seriously.

Then he enters the terrority of the sublime when he dons a 'snuggie', a blanket with sleeves - these are advertised on most American TV channels - he refers to it as a giant bib. He plaintively asks what kind of message is this sending to the Chinese, who 'own our ass', a $6,000 debt by every man, woman and child in America.

He then summarizes beautifully what is wrong with America when it's down to fartnoises, snuggleys and twittering.