Archive for June 2011

What’s the end game ?

June 30, 2011

Out of a sense of curiosity about what people think and how they rationalise (no I’m not American, ‘rationalise’ is spelled that way where I was educated!) their thoughts, I am currently dabbling in online discussions over matters of values, beliefs and attitudes. It’s a rather interesting experience now that I have finally happened across a  ‘Facebook’ page which seems to genuinely welcome calm discussion.

The group is, as individuals,  able to post whatever topics they feel are worthy of exploration, and there seems to be a small group of folks willing to contribute to the conversations in a very positive manner. There is, however, a pattern emerging – a pattern of returning time and again to the arguments (not really debates) about faith and non-faith perspectives. This seems to be a very passionate subject area for many of the contributors – most of whom are from the USA. I get the strong impression that this is much more of an imperative issue in the U.S. than here in Canada.

Feelings run high – I have been taken to task by a couple of people who seem to become increasingly irritated by my position when it doesn’t fit into a pigeonhole they have created. I have been told that I ‘should’ believe this and ‘should not’ believe that, and when I decline to obey these rather infuriated instructions, I am told that I am not reasoning in an acceptable way! It’s really quite surprising at times how people get so worked up by another person stating a belief position and then refusing to change that position in order to fit in with someone else’s  beliefs.

Why should it matter to someone whom I don’t know, will probably never meet, and whose life I will probably never interfere with, if I don’t fit into their definition of atheism or agnosticism? Where does this arrogance come from whereby a person can feel entitled to tell me what I ‘should’ believe depending upon their idea of either position? It leaves me shaking my head in wonder at what is hard not to label as a lack of common sense, or even a lack of intelligence. What kind of environment creates someone who rails against organized religion for it’s dogma and oppression, yet whom also insists upon me fitting into their view of the world?

Where does this kind of attitude take society? What kind of society creates (if it indeed does) this attitude?

The approach seems to be “Be like me, think like me, or F*** Off!”. What a scary, dangerous and potentially destructive tribal end game that could turn out to be.

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I know I’m being too sensitive.

June 29, 2011

I recently constructed a website aimed at small business. The purpose of the website is to provide small business owners with a free resource to assist them to fight losses within their organization. It’s a subject I’m very familiar with and in which I have some expertise and a good deal of experience. I went to some expense and no little time to design the site, and fill it with advice – almost all of it free. I have maybe five or six documents for sale, as well as some advertised products which run parallel to but not as part of, the website.

The website stats show that the interest is out there, but have I sold anything? Not a bean! Sometimes it can be difficult not to let that bottom lip tremble slightly…

In a parallel universe I just fell downstairs…

June 28, 2011

Perhaps. Maybe. It felt like it – there  I was at the top of the stairs, mug of coffee in one hand, handful of low sugar cookies in the other. It was a moment of destiny folks…talking over my shoulder to my lovely wife, I prepared to take the first step down towards my office. Catching sight of a vicious flying beast (namely a female mosquito) – many of which had savaged us earlier today, I paused to watch her progress as she flew across my intended path, just a few dozen elements of her compound eye upon me…watching…waiting…

As I watched her, a few things happened. Firstly, I became consciously aware of several itchy mosquito bites on my neck and legs and elbows (yes, really!), secondly, I twisted slightly to my right to watch Miss Mozzy, and third I caught my left heel on the topmost stair. In a graceful, slow-motion gymnastic movement I began to topple (just imagine the beauty of a 275 pound, pot-bellied, balding, middle aged man beginning a series of six or seven somersaults). And then I regained my balance and stopped falling, then walked down the stairs towards the space mostly oocupied by this computer.

What? What – did you WANT me to fall? ……………Best leave that question unanswered………

Anyway, a thought struggled its way through the molasses I call my mind and reached the surface; what if, in a parallel universe, it actually happened? Did a version of me, unwilling to relinquish his hold upon the coffee and cookies (for reasons best known only to him), crash down seven stairs onto the unyielding floor? Did bones snap and tissues rupture? Did a life finish? How many versions of me are there left?

It’s probably not the case I suppose – but I also suppose it is probably so. I’ve had these notions before (I hope I’m not the only one although as I write I am feeling more and more self conscious about the idea, and of telling you about it…stop looking at me like that!) – where something ALMOST happens, and I fly off on a tangent wondering if an alternative version of me (of course it would have to exist in an alternate universe – there can only be so much beauty in one universe after all) actually completed the action or accident. Alternate universes are apparently theoretically possible (and to paraphrase the late, great Douglas Adams, therefore finitely probable) and so…who knows? Not me, I actually doubt that my thoughts are anything other than inane ramblings – playtime for my mind.

But what if…?

What happens when the Ogre wants what it cannot buy?

June 20, 2011

I live within 20km of the border with the USA and I worry about that. I’m worried about the mid term future as a direct result of my geographical location. The reason is the not-so-slumbering Ogre just down the road. It’s a grumpy Ogre that has a habit of getting its own way no matter what, because its own interests always trump anyone else’s – even internationally recognized laws and concepts of morality. The Ogre has the biggest guns and the most bombs and missiles. The Ogre has more power to kill people than any other creature of its kind, and is not shy of doing so, whether overtly or otherwise. Added to this is that the Ogre doesn’t think it is wrong – ever, and the end (namely; its own interests) justifies any means – hence the CIA. Even posting this blog with these letters within it probably has this blog – and me – on a list of some kind within a very short time. Yes I have reason to be worried.

What I’m most concerned about is something as fundamental as breathing – it’s water. The U.S. is running out of water to satisfy its rapacious greed. Food is also a major coming problem for the U.S. My country has both – and lots of it. It is ours to own, ours to sell or not to sell – but if the Ogre is thirsty and hungry, the Ogre may take what it wants if it is not given. We have an unprotected border with the Americans, a border which can be stepped across, or driven across in the blink of an eye. What is international law to the Ogre when thirst or hunger beckons? The Ogre has to drink – its a matter of survival. Yes, I am worried.

America may very soon not be able to afford to buy our goods and so buying our food or our water will become impossible. America continues to fund its current critical credit problem by issuing more credit, just as it has done for decades in the belief that somehow it will all turn out OK in the end. Another kind of end must surely be in sight for this seemingly suicidal system, driven entirely by political cowardice and capitalism run amok. What happens when the Ore can no longer buy – or borrow – what it needs? History has shown that the Ogre is an opportunistic  bully and when the chips are down it will simply take without asking.

Yes, I am worried.

Gotta love the media – or not.

June 19, 2011

Following the riots in Vancouver the police are now under scrutiny for their reponse. How boring – it’s so easy to throw criticisms around, it’s a cheap news ‘story’ using old footage and a few opinion-to-camera pieces. Try to be original please! How about attempting to see the front line officer’s view for real? Policing a riot is bloody difficult and extremely dangerous – let’s make that very clear and have it as a starting point.

And as for the post mortem ‘why do good people go bad?’ please consider that the people involved in assaults and rioting and looting are not good people gone bad, they’re people with behavioural issues who were caught on camera acting in a case of group hysteria. Call a spade a spade please – the people responsible are criminals and do not deserve to have media – led apologists making excuses for them.

Crazy Canucks?

June 16, 2011

Last night, the local NHL hockey team lost out in the final game of the season’s final, the contest for the Stanley Cup. We didn’t watch the game because our interest in the sport is almost zero but when I heard about the loss I turned to my long-suffering wife and said “There’ll be rioting in Vancouver”. I’m sad to say that I was correct. It seems that there is a group of people in every city which will take any opportunity to ‘justifiably’ riot, loot and generally cause mayhem, ostensibly venting their anguish over any subject or issue.

I’m not sure where Vancouver in particular has developed this phenomenon. I can recall similar disorder (probably on a smaller scale) happening some years ago when – of all things – a Guns ‘n Roses concert was cancelled at the last second. So people rioted. Yesterday they lost the hockey competition, so again they rioted. Vancouver is a city I can appreciate for it’s lifestyle and location. The people of Canada tend to be warm, open and friendly. This kind of public disorder is out of character, somewhat shocking and yet also faintly ridiculous – it was just a game, after all, and when the dust settles.

It seems evident that the rioters are for the most part typical criminally – minded individuals (that’s individuals spelled ‘assholes’) with a sprinkling of drunken idiots and wannabes thrown into the ix. No doubt many of them feel that they have acquired some kind of credibility by their involvement. Like I said, individuals.

The part of this which affects me and has affected me most is the oppressive atmosphere that builds up around supporting the local team. Over the last few months I have been endlessly exhorted in the media to jump on the band wagon and shout the mindless “Go Canucks Go” slogan, honk my car horn, and put team flags on the car. The thing is, I don’t care if the team wins the cup because I don’t value professional hockey, just as, for example, I don’t value professional soccer. Both professional sports are nothing more than money generating businesses, followed with a fervour I simply can’t understand or empathize with.

The whole tribal thing is something I struggle with. I used to follow a football team when I was a child, and I grew out of the need to be part of the gang, to sing the same songs, to wear the same colours. Individuality became more important to me. I’m no social rebel, I choose to not identify myself very strongly through my external appearance, and the idea of following the crowd is rather repugnant and certainly undesirable. For anyone who feels the opposite, good on ya – fill your boots etc., I hope you enjoy your pastime. But (and it’s a big round hairy butt with hairs) –  STOP expecting me to join in! I don’t wish to! End of!

We just wear clothes

June 7, 2011

On Sunday this week I spent the entire day in the city. A vibrant, affluent city with a global image and perceived life style second to none. And it was pretty depressing. At the event I was attending (indeed a part of), there was a few thousand of the city’s finest walking or cycling around throughout the day. The sun was shining and the day was warm with a gentle cooling breeze – perfect weather. But something was bothering me and it was only in conversation with my lovely wife that I was able to pinpoint what the issue was.

To get to the city from our small town (which by the way is generally characterized by many of the city dwellers I know as a small hick town with a large complement of rednecks) we drove for more than an hour through a mixture of increasing urbanisation and wonderful background scenery. The city itself is a visual feast, set against a backdrop of ocean and snow capped mountains, however moving away from the countryside and into the urban environment is always something of a wrench. This is what at first I thought was bugging me through the day, but I was wrong.

It was the people. So many people trying to be something or someone identifiable as a type. Thousands of people passed before my eyes that day, and a great many of them were very obviously on show – whether as grungey hippies or stylin’ it up as smart city dwellers out taking the air with the common folk. I enjoy diversity but when I see so many people TRYING to look like part of a group (there’s a subtle obvious quality about the person who has very carefully dressed casually to go for a ride on their bike), their immaculately correct outfits matching stereotypes. Even (or especially) the young men with their depressingly clichéd tattoos and ankle – length ‘shorts’ are a boring reminder of how limited by perceptions of conforming (or non conforming) people can sometimes be.

I’ve lived and worked in a city before – another beautiful city in its own way although ancient and without the kind of dramatic topography I have become used to. And with hindsight I experienced the same thing there – a great many people going about their lives but with an under current of trying to belong to a group, to look as if they are certain type of person. And I think there is a certain sadness to that way of being.

In our small unfashionable town, we have become aware that people here are for the most part, just being themselves and not particularly caring about visual stereotypes. I think that the ‘hick’ label for the countryside towns sometimes stems from our unwillingness to be slaves to trends or fashions or to waste money on being showy. Sure we know about these things but for the most part we choose not to participate. Extremes of fashion are anathema here, and I think regarded as awaste of time (which for my money is pretty much on the mark). There is an endless debate about fashion, expression and identity and my feeling is that anyone who feels driven to express themselves through fashion is missing something in their life.

People here just wear clothes that work – today it’s raining so we will walk our dogs wearing clothes that keep us comfortable, with no thought for whether they are fashionable. And that ‘suits’ us just fine.

We just wear clothes.