Tag Archives: Commentary

What we Settle For

(So, I thought to myself as I read this written who knows when, why not? And here it is)

a poem… by   ~burning woman~ 

It’s there – for all to see it doesn’t work –
but no one can see it;
not until it collapses in your lap:
when the hopes and dreams
shatter as glass when a rock is thrown
and children run laughing
while another screams inside a dark house.
Isn’t it amazing what we settle for?
What we convince ourselves of?
There is the tried and true and failed –
Oh yes, failed, utterly failed –
but what can one do? It’s all there is, isn’t it?

We are born into society – a pattern set in cement –
and even if we notice (too late)
the cement is cracked and crumbling
no one is pouring fresh stuff down here.

Let’s see, what are the options
for the budding human’s dreams?
There’s church – some kind of religion
so you can get hooked to God – the Great One
who’s more silent than the grave;
family – parents and siblings and fights
followed by separation and divorce
and relocation to another apartment.

There’s government – you register to pay
everyday of your life and beyond;
there’s school – education to make you fit in
and teach you how to walk with eyes wide shut.
There’s work – you have to make money —
it’s what makes it all go round and down.
There’s repetition: your own family now —
the confining straights of marriage
and kids and responsibilities no one ever taught —
you fly by the seat of your pants
and you remain afloat – maybe –
or you lose and fall and lose again.

And at that point there’s jail — you had your good times
they brought you too low and you couldn’t climb out
so they scoop you off the sidewalk,
in cuffs you watch your shiny stolen car
burn inside the basement of a house
and an ambulance screams away.

Stop, you say, stop already —
it’s not that bad, not for most —
and sadly I have to agree, it is not:
most accept the middle road, the common ground.
They warm the pews, fill the voting booths,
sit at desks half asleep to make it work
and in the end they commute, commute, commute –
like the beat of a train’s steel wheels
on a cheaply laid track —
to the job and back from the job,
“I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!”
and it all becomes the same, blurred, wasted emptiness
mixed with forgotten dreams alluded to
with sarcastic laughter once or twice at a party.

And hope, what happened to it?
Well, it’s still there, somewhere —
in the shoe closet with its broken flip shelf,
in the empty baby’s crib or the rusting barbecue.
Sometimes it’s in the cold hot tub
and sometimes in the boat with no license
or under the scum in the swimming pool.

Mostly it’s in the maxed-out loans and mortgages
maybe just enough to tell the Sheriff: not today,
just barely enough.
Dreams and hopes becoming the memories
rounded up to form the padding in the coffin.

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It begins but it doesn’t End

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~]

I’ve begun wondering if I’m finally getting old. I don’t mean physically, of course I’m getting old but that doesn’t seem to matter a lot; just wondering about in my head. Asking myself, am I mentally getting old?

For quite some time now I’ve begun writing these “gems” of thoughts, only to realize that not one of them was ever brought to any conclusion. That being a new thing for me, I’ve started wondering what causes that unfinished business.

Am I losing track of things, or is it that I don’t care anymore; that is, I don’t care enough to bring it to a conclusion? It’s not a pregnancy anymore, just a flirtation, or so it seems. I like the idea, but not enough to push it out completely. Dumb, right?

Here’s another thought, another possible reason. Yes, I am getting old. Suddenly very fast. I’m feeling it, everywhere, even as I go on pretending to myself that nothing is changing. Everything is changing. Climate change? The end of civilization? No, it’s more than that on a personal basis, though it may be related. What is happening is, I’ve grown up enough to consider having a serious date with death.

You know what happens when you start getting serious with death: he’s a very serious character and doesn’t take fooling around lightly. ‘If you want to date me’ says the handsome and thoroughly desirable character, ‘you will have to marry me and I don’t care how easy it is in your world to get a divorce, in mine that is not an option. Date me now and you are mine, for eternity.’

Is that it? Have I fallen in love with my own very last lover? Is that why nothing gets finished anymore? How romantically sick that idea is! It’s fine in a movie, like “Meet Joe Black” but it’s not reality, is it.

No. I think the problem, if it is a problem, is the picture has grown so big in my mind that I don’t have the language to encompass it all anymore. As soon as I sit down to write it, it inflates like the craziest balloon imaginable until all I can do is let it go and just watch it rise into the night sky and disappear.

Some years ago as I sat alone in the dark pondering “stuff” and crying, for no reason but that it made me feel better to cry, I said to myself, “I know too much and it’s killing me.”

I didn’t die from an overdose of knowing, but it got me staring into that infinity telescope and the more I looked, the farther I saw and the more confused I got. It may be that there are limits to what we should dare look into. Limits to how much future we should try to absorb. It may be that wisdom calls to say, “Enough now, just go out and play with what you already know. Stop stuffing yourself or you will make yourself sick.”

I understand that death is that last door into my chosen slice of future. What I have yet to learn is that my chosen slice of future is all that I am designed to handle. It’s all I can be. It is my future, not yours, not anyone else’s. It’s my dowry and I need to own it.

Well, I got this one done. A good movie, a glass of wine and some ‘nasty’ salty chips… and it’s thundering outside. That’s a bonus: we don’t get much in terms of thunder storms down here. It’s a rather placid kind of a place, this Lower Mainland. When it comes to weather, we get the left-overs.

Ciao, everyone. Thanks for reading; thanks for the likes; thanks for being who you are, wish I could meet and get to know all of you personally. That would be so wonderful…

~me… Sha’Tara as    ~burning woman~

 

Greetings, from the Caribou Country

Update!

I’m off again on another volunteer stint in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada, with my ‘favourite’ bunch, the MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer crew from my home town, Chilliwack. All that to say that I’m way too busy at this time to address much blogging except to read as many posts and comments as I can and respond to those I feel need immediate response and putting the rest in my “Hold” email file.

By the looks of my lively calendar and the requests piling up in my cell phone, it looks like this is going to be a very busy spring and summer for me, so much less time for blogging. I don’t mind, I was getting a bit antsy with little to do but sit in front of the computer or looking out a window to watch the rain, snow, rain, falling and somewhere in there and in-between, the wind blowing and howling.

Here in Lone Butte, just south of 100 Mile House and the highest elevation in the Caribou, the weather is as unsettled and unseasonable as in the rest of the province. It’s spring break-up time now and about half of winter’s accumulation of snow has melted as run off, leaving runnels and mud, mud, mud, everywhere not covered with layers of crush or gravel. Some of the country roads remain impassable due to flooding and… mud! Where the snow has melted and re-frozen there are piles of dirty ice trying their best to hold spring at bay.

Today was quite cold, with snow flurries, heavy rain squalls and hail taking their turn at trying to force us off our building to seek shelter inside. We didn’t, and thank goodness for the invention of modern “rain gear” that doesn’t leak putting finishing touches on a house, yet breathes. We remained comfortable despite “mother nature’s” best efforts to force us off the job. While we were busy working on the house (this is a homestead) a ewe gave birth to lambs this afternoon.

Since last year’s forest fires much has changed with the wildlife. Bears, cougars and lynx have grown bolder and approach homesteads and farms looking for prey. Apparently large lynx and cougars  are regularly seen on the homestead here but none have appeared since we’ve been here. The dogs patrol the property but the owners say they rely more on a pair of domestic geese as their predator warning system!

Sorry, I haven’t wanted to break the team work rhythm so no pictures as yet. Maybe before my time here is up, I’ll have some.  Maybe I’ll even have time to post them too!

All the best, from the Caribou!

There is a Book

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

With so many comments either set aside or poorly answered; with the fantasy novel (finished, by the way) waiting to be posted on the blog and my job appointment book filling up, the last thing I need is another post stirring up more controversy.

Still, I must live up to my reputation. I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, few complimentary, recently an anarchist (which I consider a compliment) and a contrarian (which is akin to a trouble maker for no good reason and that’s not a compliment, not even with green eggs and ham, Sam I Am) while all I’m doing is questioning everything. Why do I do that? Because everything should be questioned and it’s the task of any intelligent individual to do so.

Nothing should ever be taken for granted, accepted without proof, or dismissed as of no consequence even when its track record screams: “I’m going to destroy your civilization, with yourself and yours in it!” We’re so used to seeing the writing on the wall these days, we just call it graffiti and turn away shrugging, smiling or laughing.

There’s a book that is titled: “Solutions to all Problems” and it’s the only book you can find in any library. It’s the only book you get when you enter grade one, the only book you will receive subsequently until you finish your stint in high school, college or university. The only book you will ever read. It’s the book all institutions use, including the United Nations. It might even surprise you to discover that it’s the only book Donald Trump has ever attempted to read… in pop-up format.

That book has millions of titles, one of the best known is the Bible, of course. It has millions of introductions and millions of ways wherein the contents are filled in. It’s a wonderful book. I see it here, or at least excerpts of it, on Word Press all the time.

The reason this book is so popular and acceptable is simple: it doesn’t actually contain any real solution to anything at all. That’s its purpose: to propose solutions that are based on ideas hatched by dead smart guys, or interpreters of dead smart guys, or people who figgered out a way to cash in on dead smart guys ideas. It rehashes failed “solutions” to any and every problem without an iota of shame for doing this. It’s like watching an ever-running soap opera, you know, the “people with no lives watching people with fake lives” sort of book.

So try to imagine somebody (like me for example) saying that the book is fake; that it should be burned, not banned, good Lord no, never banned, that would only make it more popular! Burned. Discarded. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. An end to it.

Then, lo and behold, we would be free to write an entirely new book and none of the contents would be based on the old “Solutions to all Problems” fantasy.

Having said that, I’ve been having thoughts about fascism and Nazism, including Zionism, lately. My thoughts ran on the question: why have these horrible anti-life, anti-human ideologies become so powerful and popular in the last century and increasingly so in this one?

There was a simple answer: Darwinism. Of course. Darwinism denies the humanity of man. It claims that man is just another evolved critter that crawled out of the much and mire some million years ago and joined in the race to dominate. It brushes off any attempt at dialogue regarding human behaviour such as morals, virtues and vices, the sense of what is right and what is wrong.

That sort of religion was custom made for fascists, Nazis and Zionists. It claims we live in a world strictly ruled by the survival of the fittest. How that fittest becomes fittest is irrelevant, all that matters is, the fittest must make it to the top of the pyramid of power and control. It’s nature, you see? If you question that you’re insane, of course.

If that means cruelly exploiting, oppressing, or murdering millions, so be it. There is nothing wrong in exercising one’s supremacy any way it works. It’s nature’s food chain. None of what you do to change that has any meaning, nor can it succeed.

That’s the essence of Darwinism.

Now, ask me why I would hate even the mention of such a religion, and make no mistake, it is a religion. It is designed to fool to numbties into thinking that when they switch from worshiping the infamous Jehovah to worshiping Superiority through race, misogyny, imperial subjugation or financial shenanigans, they are “atheists” and are cleansed from the curse of religiosity!

Just another title to The Book. The contents are always the same.

Your call!

Grabber the Cancer Cell

[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]

When little Grabber Gulp was born, he was adored by all. Some even said he was the cutest little Cancer cell they had ever seen. He was a jolly little cell who enjoyed his food immensely. Momma Gulp was so very proud of her little Cancer she took him everywhere to show him to everyone she knew.

These were good times for Grabber. That was some time ago.

Grabber grew and became aware of his world, or “host” as his fellow Cancers called it and as his teachers insisted he labeled it. As he learned Cancer history, Grabber Gulp became introspective and tried to understand his species versus the one his “host” consisted of. He explored some of the more populated parts of the host in his neighbourhood. It began to dawn on him that there were simply too many Cancers upon it and inside it. He began to feel the unease, then the pain, Cancers caused the host. This troubled him though he could not be sure why.

The Gulps were quite well-off, as Cancers consider such, so Grabber was encouraged to further his education. Being quite bright for a Cancer, they sent him to the best Cancer universities. Grabber learned quickly. He soon understood how everything in his civilization was interconnected and designed strictly for exponential growth. He grasped the concept that if his civilization ever sought to balance itself; to stop expanding and change to a *steady state of non material growth, it would die.

What Grabber also came to realize was that the opposite was equally true: that if his species continued to expand exponentially at the expense of its host, it would simply overwhelm the host’s ability to maintain itself in a state that would feed and support his species. The host, he reasoned from his studies and personal observations, was actually dying and it was the Cancers that were the cause of it.

Further studies showed that many scientists all over the host were aware of the problem but were not allowed to talk about it. They were charged with finding solutions to the threatened end of the Cancers should something terrible happen to the host.

Some were attempting to discover means whereby the Cancers could be propelled across space into a new host. Others believed that the Cancer civilization could be balanced; that a substantial population of Cancers, ideally the current one, could survive on the current host if certain areas of the host’s anatomy were declared reserves, or preserves, just enough so the host wouldn’t die.

Grabber wasn’t impressed with any of that.

“The problem we’re faced with,” said Grabber Gulp to a group of students he had become spokesperson for, “is that too many Cancers believe the host’s resources are practically infinite and capable of accommodating a lot more Cancer population. Too many believe that if we dig deeper, literally or not; if we develop more esoteric technology we can extract more resources in places our species had never even known existed. We can feed all the Cancers on this host and much, much more. We’re the intelligent species here, and we rule the host.

This hubris, people, is going to be the end of our civilization, and of ourselves. When our host dies, we die.”

That sort of talk didn’t go well at all in Grabber’s world. Predictably he lost his tenure at the university where he’d begun teaching. As he was leaving he was warned by the president to watch what he said from now on.

Until now grabber had spent his entire life on an area of the host called the “Left-Breast.” It was an affluent area of the host and Grabber realized no one was going to support him in his crusade to make Cancers understand the danger they were in as long as things continued reasonably well. He decided to emigrate to a much more crowded and poorer area of the host called the “Right Thigh.”

On his very arrival the conditions he observed there totally shocked him. There was mass starvation as the area had been overcrowded and stripped of resources for some time. Cancers were dying everywhere but that wasn’t the worst of it. The entire Right Thigh was itself dying. The blood was so badly infected that many Cancers were dying of thirst and a host of diseases they didn’t even have names for. The smell of death was everywhere.

Grabber realized that what was happening on and in the Right Thigh was soon going to happen to his home area. Unable to do anything to alleviate conditions in the Right Thigh he returned to his home, determined to prevent a complete physical collapse and death of the Left Breast. He began a series of lectures, showing videos and documentaries he had smuggled out of the Right Thigh along with his own pictures of hundreds, even thousands, of dead and dying Cancers along the blood vessels.

One night as he pondered his next speech in a hotel room, the door was forced open and a dozen police Cancers pounced on him, threw a black bag over his head and dragged him downstairs and into a waiting vehicle. He was taken to an interrogation center where he was tortured and drugged. In his torpor he signed a document stating that everything he’d claimed to have seen was lies; that his documentaries and videos were the fabrications of Right Thigh terrorists who wanted to destroy the economy of the Left Breast.

After he signed the document, Grabber was thrown head first into an incinerator.

(For some thoughts on “steady state economy” see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady-state_economy)

 

America: Diversity versus Disparity

Some time back there was a tempest in the social media teapot. It came after his royal pudgy-fingered PG 13 (which at the White House means “Minimum Pussy Grabbing Age 13) President of These United States, declared certain races persona-non-grata in His Kingdom. Such nationalities and races didn’t fit the new profile being advertised as proper for the Kingdom’s expanding white supremacist swamp.

That, of course, wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened in the Kingdom but that was before social media so all can be excused for not being aware of it. After all America, and much of the rest of the planet, emerged from the Dark Ages to populate Facebook and imitators, spewing and spawning its collective BS as if it were the most precious substance in the universe. Who cares what happened in the Dark Ages before 2005?

Having got that out of the way, let’s get a bit more serious before the wine runs out.

During that tempest, the old cant that America was founded on diversity was brought out of retirement, dusted off and vigorously waved about to counter the Trumper King’s signing of the new Magna Carta handing out more power and money to his nobility and racist supporters alike.

The problem here isn’t what the Trumper King was doing. After all a King has absolute power and His Royal Self was demonstrating that fact, never to be forgotten.

The problem is the subsequent claim to said Kingdom being founded on diversity. Key word: founded.

A nation is never founded on ideals, that being the mission statement. Ideals are fine on a piece of paper protected by inch-thick glass but not beyond. Beyond it just means trouble.

Think of it like being comfortably ensconced in your favourite pew some Sunday morning while working out your moves for the golf course in the afternoon and suddenly, out of the blue (literally speaking) Jesus appears, nudges the preacher gently out of the way and takes over the pulpit. General consternation and cries of “No! No, no, no! That’s not how it works. Whoa! You can’t be here, you’re supposed to be in heaven where you can’t cause trouble. You’re outta here, buddy! Somebody, shut the sound system down, throw him out!”

That’s the problem with idols such as divinities and belief systems and constitutions. They’re only good as long as they support the status quo and if they don’t, then they remain securely under glass or on stained glass. You can’t drag them out into the open and use them. That’s not allowed, not without properly authorized “interpreters.”

The idea that America is founded on diversity is false. America is entirely founded on disparity. For those who don’t have a dictionary of synonyms, diversity is not a synonym for disparity. You can take my word for that.

Certainly it cannot be disputed that America’s social landscape consists of much diversity. The history is there and descendants of diverse nationalities or races are the people who make up the population of America. But to go from “consists of” to “founded upon” is a leap off the proverbial cliff. It is totally misleading.

What controls and shapes America is not the diversity of the many races, or minorities representative of such races, but the disparity that exists between its social strata. That is what it is founded upon.

If we want to put a label on America’s foundation, disparity, we can safely call it greed. Greed of gargantuan and unapologetic proportions. Greed that is currently eating the nation alive.

Oh yes, before Jesus was unceremoniously dragged from the pulpit and ejected out the door on his face, he did manage to say this, “And I repeat again, the love of money is the root of all evil!” Then he mumbled under his breath as he picked himself up and brushed the small stones from his tunic, “I’ll be back!” and vanished.

Revolt of the Robots – monbiot.com

Revolt of the Robots – monbiot.com


Some great and positive thoughts from George Monbiot about the benefits of volunteering (and not incidentally also another “warning” about the growing “evil” behind the Amazon corporation run by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world at $90 billion)

Revolt of the Robots

Posted: 09 Feb 2018 01:01 AM PST

How we can find meaning, purpose and pride when the workplace no longer offers them

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 7th February 2018

 

Why bother designing robots when you can reduce human beings to machines? Last week, Amazon acquired a patent for a wristband that can track the hand movements of workers. If this technology is developed, it could grant companies almost total control over their workforce.

A fortnight ago the Guardian interviewed a young man called Aaron Callaway, who works nights in an Amazon warehouse. He has to place 250 items an hour into the right carts. His work, he says, is so repetitive, antisocial and alienating that “I feel like I’ve lost who I was … My main interaction is with the robots.” And this is before the wristbands might be deployed.

I see the terrible story of Don Lane, the DPD driver who collapsed and died from diabetes, as another instance of the same dehumanisation. After being fined £150 by the company for taking a day off to see his doctor, this “self-employed contractor” (who worked full-time for the company and wore its uniform) felt he could no longer keep his hospital appointments. As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han argues, in the gig economy, “every individual is master and slave in one … class struggle has become an internal struggle with oneself.”

Everything work offered during the social democratic era – economic security, a sense of belonging, social life, a political focus – has been stripped away: alienation is now almost complete. Digital Taylorism, splitting interesting jobs into tasks of mind-robbing monotony, threatens to degrade almost every form of labour. Workers are reduced to the crash dummies of the post-industrial age. The robots have arrived, and you are one of them.

So where do we find identity, meaning and purpose, a sense of autonomy, pride and utility? The answer, for many people, is volunteering. Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the NHS, and I’ve realised that there are two public health systems in this country: the official one, performing daily miracles, and the voluntary network that supports it.

Everywhere I look, there are notices posted by people helping at the hospital, running support groups for other patients, raising money for research and equipment. Without this support, I suspect the official system would fall apart.

And so would many of the patients. Some fascinating research papers suggest that positive interactions with other people promote physical healing, reduce physical pain, and minimise anxiety and stress for patients about to have an operation. Support groups save lives. So do those who raise money for treatment and research.

Last week I spoke to two remarkable volunteers. Jeanne Chattoe started fundraising for Against Breast Cancer after her sister was diagnosed with the disease. Until that point, she had lived a quiet life, bringing up her children and working in her sister’s luggage shop. She soon discovered powers she never knew she possessed. Before long, she started organising an annual fashion show which, across 13 years, raised almost £400,000. Then, lying awake one night, she had a great idea: why not decorate her home town pink once a year, recruiting the whole community to the cause? Witney in the Pink has now been running for 17 years, and all the shops participate: even the butchers dye their uniforms pink. The event raises at least £6000 a year.

“It’s changed my whole life,” Jeanne told me. “I eat, live and breathe against breast cancer … I don’t know what I would have done without fundraising. Probably nothing. It’s given me a purpose.” She has acquired so much expertise organising these events that in 2009 Against Breast Cancer appointed her chair of its trustees, a position she still holds today.

After his transplant, Kieran Sandwell donated his old heart to the British Heart Foundation. Then he began thinking about how he could support its work. He told me he had “been on the work treadmill where I’ve not enjoyed my job for years, wondering what I’m doing.” He set off to walk the entire coastline of the UK, to raise money and awareness. He now has 2800 miles behind him and 2000 ahead. “I’ve discovered that you can actually put your mind to anything. … whatever I come across in my life I can probably cope with it. Nothing fazes me now.”

Like Jeanne, he has unlocked unexpected powers. “I didn’t know I had in me the ability just to be able to talk to anyone.” His trek has also ignited a love of nature. “I seem to have created this fluffy bubble: what happens to me every day is wonderful. … I want to try to show people that there’s a better life out there.”

For Jeanne and Kieran, volunteering has given them what work once promised: meaning, purpose, place, community. This, surely, is where hope lies.

So here’s my outrageous proposal: replace careers advice with volunteering advice. I’ve argued before that much of the careers advice offered by schools and universities is worse than useless, shoving students headfirst into the machine, reinforcing the seductive power of life-destroying corporations. In fairness to the advisers, their job is becoming almost impossible anyway: the entire infrastructure of employment seems designed to eliminate fulfilling and fascinating work.

But while there is little chance of finding jobs that match students’ hopes and personalities and engage their capabilities, there is every chance of connecting them with good opportunities to volunteer. Perhaps it is time we saw volunteering as central to our identities and work as peripheral: something we have to do, but that no longer defines us. I would love to hear people reply, when asked what they do, “I volunteer at the food bank and run marathons. In my time off, I work for money.”

And there’s a side-effect. The world has been wrecked by people seeking status through their work. In many professions – such as fossil fuels, weapons manufacture, banking, advertising – your prestige rises with the harm you do. The greater your destruction of other people’s lives, the greater your contribution to shareholder value. But when you volunteer, the respect you gain rises with the good you do.

We should keep fighting for better jobs and better working conditions. But the battle against workplace technology is an unequal one. The real economic struggle now is for the redistribution of wealth generated by labour and machines, through universal basic income, the revival of the commons and other such policies. Until we achieve this, most people will have to take whatever work is on offer. But we cannot let it own us.

http://www.monbiot.com