Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A small rant about a big topic

Yesterday Facebook did something stupid.  No that isn't the rant, although there is a veritable unending supply of stupid from Facebook.  And, to be honest it wasn't Facebooks fault.  

Allow me to start at the beginning.  As you all know, Facebook allows advertising, it pollutes and dilutes our social media streams daily. We do have the ability to edit, or manage as Facebook laughingly calls the "kill this now" x.  And I use my ability to delete ads frequently, very very frequently.  I kill more beauty ads, firm your body part ads, sports ads, and food ads than I can count daily. But, I do make one category inviolate, no matter how much I might be annoyed by them, political ads. 

Why you might ask would I keep the very dross of all the ads on Facebook?  Good question.  I do it so that I can see what the politicians are trying to feed to the masses. What version of tripe is the current scandal du' jour. At times it is painful, torturous reading. And at times, it just pisses me off no end.

Guess which one I saw yesterday?

I have an add on my feed from Secure America Now: which reads:
Does your senator stand with Iran or America? See where he or she stands on the Iran Deal >>>

This is a brilliant example of the binary thinking that is destroying America. Yes, I said destroying. And yes, I mean destroying.

Allow me a small rant in response.  

<rant>
Bull.
The efforts to disarm and prevent middle eastern nations from gaining nuclear weapons is decades old. The Iran proposal that is on the table is a continuation of that policy. A policy that has remained consistent across both Democratic and Republican administrations since the 1950s.

Foreign policy, most of life, is not a binary decision. Pretending that any negotiation between nations can be summed up as us=good, them=bad is preposterous. And it is the type of infantile no more sophisticated than a 3-year-old thinking that your oppressors rely on.

THINK. Learn to think.
</rant>

Now there is a lot more that needs to be said, and people are saying it, about the dumbing down of America.  The more I look, the more I see and I wonder where this love of ignorance, this blind hatred of education, any education, comes from.  It's worth investigating.  It's worth exposing. And, it's worth cutting out like the poisonous cancer it is. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hamlet, revised

"the play 's the thing. 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."  
           ~ Hamlet

Oh, Dear Hamlet. 
The king is dead. Long live the king.
He is transformed into a frail and foolish old man

Who babbles and wanders and dreams

There is no redress from him. 

He sits on your back, carried in a basket
Wrapped in a blanket
You guard him from the wind by long habit. 

He is empty, and you are hollow. 

Gertrude, is lost in a fantasy
Created by others, but maintained by she,
Of crystal, and silk, and brave finery

There is no talking to her. 

She hears only flattery
And sees only reflections of her dream
Pieced together long ago, fraying at the seam

She dances alone, without you child.

Laertes, my brother, 
The son you should have been. 
Lies dead. 

He could have been you, it should have been you.

And I, lost to madness
Poor Ophelia, deluded, abandoned and used. 
There’s rue for you, and some for me. 

The maidens flowers fall from my hair. 

Would that I had lived.  
Warmth in my joints, sparks in my eyes
A copper crown of braided glory.

But I am cold, and drowned. 

I rise again for you, dear Dane, 
From my watery tomb, to speak truth 
To you, the author of all. 

Decided to Play

When it rains it pours. Bother.

Yesterday I heard from two friends about two great writing competitions.  One in DC for plays, one on-line with Gulf Coast.  Both have Aug 31 deadlines, or near enough as makes no difference.  So, I have to make a decision. 

I should warn you, I'm bad at making decisions.  I usually suffer from analysis paralysis. And it can get very silly, or painful, depending on your perspective. 

I took the time and looked at both competitions.  Now I have a buddy who I would love to work with for one of them.  A bit of mutual "So, how's it going over there?"  You know, someone to keep your feet to the proverbial fire. And that is for the prose competition. 

But my heart is screaming for me to finish the play.  And this opportunity will make me sit down and write. Too many things are tumbling over in my head, it's making far too much noise so "the play 's the thing."  

I can't promise this will be "happy, happy, joy, joy" time. Actually, I suspect it will be quite painful for me. I'll be visiting the Greylands again.  Oh, that's one of the ways I refer to my depression.  I'll have to give a tour one day.  Interesting place, if you don't have to reside there. 

I'm going to be pulling up nettles with my bare hands. In a way I'm not looking forward to that, and at the same time, I am.  Strange.  I'm not usually masochistic. The thought that makes the task bearable is that I hope, by pulling those weeds I can somehow remove them permanently. I'm hoping that writing all this down will be like applying some mental weed killer. 

We shall see.  


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The search for balance

The search for balance is a constant theme in my life.

Emotional balance, coming to peace with my past, finding some way to resolve the illusion of my youth with the reality, fighting the deeply ingrained reactions and overreactions from my early years, is a challenge for me.

Balancing my health is another perpetual concern.  Between endocrine problems and energy issues there is always a fine line between functional and not.  And that delicate balance can be wrecked by the common cold. For example, I'm five weeks out of the gym thanks to a summertime cold right now. That is ending today.  Live or die, I'm crawling back to the gym.

Then there is the inner versus exterior struggle to find balance in my life, in my writing.  How much to say, how much to reveal, how much can I dig up from my past and share without compromising my future.

I'm not alone, I know most people have similar issues, but I'll admit, it's become a central theme for me.  Here's an example, I have an endocrine problem, if I eat too many carbohydrates (simple carbohydrates to be precise) I can count on a hypoglycemic "crash" in about 20 minutes.  So I have to balance when I eat, what I eat and how much I eat, and add to that exercise.  This isn't too different from what anyone with a chronic illness needs to do.  I resent how pervasive it is.  How it crawls into every corner of my life.

But even that isn't as bad as the depression.

Yeup, I'm another tortured writer.  I can imagine the eye rolls.
Well, not that tortured today. Thank goodness.

I've struggled with depression for thirty-five years.  That's pretty remarkable, at least I think so.  Initially I wrote "I lived with depression." but, you don't really live.  Yes, you do all the technical breathing, digesting and metabolizing, but there isn't much 'living'.  Mainly because all the things that register as 'life' are unable to penetrate the depression. When things are very bad everything seems to be rather flat and tasteless.

That is why balance is so important to me. I do find that as my body is healthier, my mind is healthier.  I write primarily to help my own mind find some sort of emotional and mental balance. It is an exercise to keep me functional. And I do try to exercise daily.

Balance: a consistent goal, with variable results.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Missing the Mark on African Trophy Hunting

Have you ever just missed the mark?

I did the other day.  I sat down full of ideas to communicate to the world,  and ended up writing a piece of pap.  It was dull, it added no interest to the conversation, it was off-target and bland.

What I ended up writing was just another piece on killing Cecil the lion.  But that wasn't what I wanted to convey.
I didn't want to just put out another piece that said, "I like lions, he's a jerk to kill one."
I didn't want to just put out another piece that said, "Trophy hunting is wrong."

What I wanted to do, and failed completely, was to look at the why under the headlines.  I wanted to explore the complexities of international law in this situation, and missed.  I wanted to convey the tragedy that many African nations, with histories of unrest, civil strife, religious fighting, and even tribal warfare, not to mention the trifecta of AIDS, famine and civil war, is stuck in a cycle of poverty.  Africa is a complexity, that we comfortable westerners in general, just do not understand.

And that brings me to more of what I wanted to talk about.  How a comfortable American with money to burn can go to Africa and buy the opportunity to kill an endangered species.  Some African nations have realized that one of the ways they can use their natural resources is as a tourism draw.  Mozambique and Botswana have both embraced the concept of natural preservation and eco-tourism.  But this isn't a one size fits all solution.  Very few solutions are in Africa.

So money, still brings in hunters.  And hunters still pay for the 'thrill'.  This brings up another idea I wanted to explore.  What is the 'thrill'?  Is it the chase?  Is it the excitement of outsmarting another critter in its home habitat?  Or is it the actual killing?   Is it the need to see if your testicles have grown a fraction of an inch because you have killed another living thing?

Don't get me wrong.  I am all for hunting for food.  And in my family hunting was a way of life for my father's generation.  Very few seasons went by without dove, or quail, or pheasant, or venison being served.  And I can still ask family and friends for venison when the fancy strikes.  I have no problem with eating game.  But I do have a problem with someone who wants to kill, just for the kill, just to prove to themselves in some twisted way their superiority.

So here's an idea.  If you have to have the chase - why not talk to biologists who need to tag and trace animals?  The hunter gets the chase, the hunter even gets to shoot something, albeit with a tranquilizer and not a bullet.  It has the potential to offer everything to the hunter that is supposed to be important,  except the kill.   And just think about it,  that animal,  lion, leopard, rhino, can be traced, followed and even hunted again with tranquilizers - to check on progress or aid a biologists study.

There.  That's closer.