Monday, 29 April 2013

If you don't think education matters...

With apologies to the original poster, Mr. Scorpio on DemocraticUnderground.Com

Wikipedia: Rachel Maddow
Maddow earned a degree in public policy at Stanford in 1994. At graduation she was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship. She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. This made her the first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes Scholarship. In 2001, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in politics at Oxford University. Her thesis is titled "HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons" and her supervisor was Dr. Lucia Zedner.

Wikipedia: Sean Hannity
He grew up in Franklin Square, New York and attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Hempstead, New York during his middle school years and St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary high school in Uniondale, New York. Hannity dropped out of New York University and Adelphi University.

Wikipedia: Glenn Beck
Beck graduated from Sehome High School in June 1982... In 1996, while working for a New Haven area radio station, Beck took a theology class at Yale University, with a written recommendation from Senator Joe Lieberman, a Yale alumnus who was a fan of Beck's show at the time. Beck enrolled in an "Early Christology" course, but soon withdrew, marking the extent of his post-secondary education

Wikipedia: Rush Limbaugh
Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Central High School, in 1969; where he played football. Because of his parents' desire to see him attend college, he enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything", and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."

Is the gentleman who put together the above image comparing the education of these four people being fair? Am I being fair to the four people in reposting the comparison? Good question but it certainly shines an interesting light on a strange phenomenon I have been observing for the past few years regarding the far right of the American political spectrum.

While anything in politics needs to be taken with a grain of salt - we, the people, need to provide a check and balance in the system and hold any politician accountable - the far right, the Tea Party, and now the Republican party, seemingly under the influence of the far right, has put forward a platform and justified it with frightening leaps of logic sometimes devoid of facts. I would be one of the first to worry about politics in general but somehow the Conservative end of the spectrum has gotten more and more extreme. As the problems mount and as the situation seemingly gets more critical, the intransigence of the GOP has long crossed the line from disturbing to frightening. They are right and everyone else is wrong.

I suppose anyone could put forward the idea that hyperbole is an effective rhetoric device for emphasizing a point. Unfortunately, does anybody know where the truth lies anymore? If you keep saying we've arrived at the apocalypse, do you promote rational dialogue or do you incite fear?

Another group of four

Wikipedia: Sarah Palin
After graduating from high school in 1982, Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982, and then to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d'Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983. In June 2008, the Alumni Association of North Idaho College gave Palin its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, then finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant. She played the flute in the talent portion of the contest, and received both the Miss Congeniality award and a college scholarship.

She enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for an academic year, starting in August 1984, then attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in January 1986, and received her bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in May 1987.

Wikipedia: Michele Bachmann
She graduated from Anoka High School in 1974 and, after graduation, spent one summer working on kibbutz Be'eri in Israel. In 1978, she graduated from Winona State University with a B.A.

In 1979, Bachmann was a member of the first class of the O. W. Coburn School of Law, then a part of Oral Roberts University (ORU). While there, Bachmann studied with John Eidsmoe, whom she described in 2011 as "one of the professors who had a great influence on me". Bachmann worked as a research assistant on Eidsmoe's 1987 book Christianity and the Constitution, which argues that the United States was founded as a Christian theocracy, and should become one again. In 1986 Bachmann received a J.D. degree from Oral Roberts University. She was a member of the final graduating class of the law school at ORU, and was part of a group of faculty, staff, and students who moved the ORU law school library to what is now Regent University.

In 1988, Bachmann received an LL.M. degree in tax law from the William & Mary School of Law. From 1988 to 1993, she was an attorney working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Wikipedia: Rick Santorum
Santorum attended Pennsylvania State University for his undergraduate studies, serving as chairman of the university's College Republicans chapter and graduating in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science. ... He then completed a one-year Master of Business Administration program at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, graduating in 1981. In 1986, Santorum received a Juris Doctor with honors from the Dickinson School of Law.

Wikipedia: Rick Perry
Perry graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1968. He then attended Texas A&M University, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets, a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, was elected senior class social secretary, and was also elected as one of A&M's five yell leaders. Perry graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in animal science.

Upon graduation in 1972, Perry was commissioned in the Air Force and completed pilot training in February 1974. He was then assigned as a C-130 pilot to the 772nd Tactical Airlift Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base. Perry's duties included two-month overseas rotations at RAF Mildenhall in England and Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. His missions included a 1974 U.S. State Department drought relief effort in Mali, Mauritania and Chad, and two years later, earthquake relief in Guatemala. He left the Air Force in 1977 with the rank of captain, returned to Texas, and went into business farming cotton with his father.

Final Word
The first group of four, all involved in newscasting, makes a remarkable correlation between education and political leanings or education and objectivity. The second group of four shows that the far right is not without education but I would certainly question how that education led those people to their ideology. Can I or anyone else use education as a litmus test for qualities of the individual? Without a doubt, anyone would qualify Abraham Lincoln as one of the great presidents and yet, Wikipedia reports he was mostly self-educated. In contrast, George W. Bush earned a B.A. in history from Yale and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an M.B.A.

Let me add, however, that the historical rankings, whether done by scholars or by the public, put Abraham Lincoln in the top three of the all-time successful presidents while George W. Bush is consistently towards the bottom of the list.


my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U - March 2012
Recently, the world has been atwitter on Twitter and other social media commenting left, right and centre about one Rush Hudson Limbaugh. Of course, it is easy to pile on by calling him an anal orifice or a Neanderthal or a meany... (I consult my notes) oops, that's a f**kin' meany... however I can't help feeling there is more, much more not just to this particular story, but to what the story represents. This is the tip of the iceberg.

my blog: My postings on politics


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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Movie Review: Oblivion

Visually, the film is stunning. Okay, the story is only competent but then again, what is the matter with competent? Do we always have to have superlative? No matter. The film was released on April 10, 2013 and I note its budget was $124 million. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has already grossed $164 million so there is little doubt that no matter what the critics say, the film has captured the interest of the public and is turning a profit.

60 years ago, an alien race, called the Scavs attacks the Earth. Earth wins but half the planet is destroyed. Everyone is evacuated to Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons. Tom Cruise is a drone maintenance technician. These battle drones are necessary to protect a series of "hydro-stations" which are sucking all the water from the oceans to be taken elsewhere for some unnamed purpose. Protection from what or from whom? Supposedly from the remaining Scavs who are running around trying to sabotage things.

It would seem that if the critics have taken exception to anything in the film, it's the weak plot. The number one complaint is that the ideas of the movie have been done before. Are there any original ideas out there? Some pundit is going to tie anything back to Shakespeare or the Greek classics or heck, some cave painting dating back ten thousand years. Yes, it's all been done before. There is nothing new under the sun.

Then what makes a good book like Asimov or Clarke stand out from the crowd? Because they did it well. Not only did they have good science, they had good stories even if one could argue the themes had appeared before. And here, I will say it again: a good movie needs a good story.

Joseph Kosinki
Joseph who? This gentleman's claim to fame is the director of the 2010 movie Tron:Legacy (my review). It is interesting to see the similarities between the two films: visually stunning, weak on plot. Although, I can't completely blame Joe on the Tron movie. After all, the original 1982 Tron movie was the same: visually stunning (for its time) but with a story only an 8-year old would find exciting. What a shame. Legacy was quite the eye candy. But then again, it takes some genius to come up with something like The Matrix which is not only a feast for the eyes, but a meat and potatoes helping for the brain. Once again, a good story trumps special effects but with The Matrix, you got it all. Wow.

It would seem Mr. Kosinki résumé lists numerous advertisements. (Check out his web site here) It is easy to see that this guy has a good eye for visuals. No wonder he was picked to Tron:Legacy and no wonder he was picked for Oblivion. The director is doing double duty here having authored the unpublished graphic novel upon which the movie is based. As I said, it is unpublished but I imagine somebody is going to want to cash it and will have it in the book stores at some point.

Final Word
I'm going to miss Roger Ebert. I would always read his reviews as I liked to hear his take on a film. With his knowledge of movies and insider knowledge of cast and crew, he would ofttimes turn up some hitherto nugget of information. But I am sure he wouldn't have given this film any more than two out of four stars.

Rotten Tomatoes currently shows the film's rating at 54%. Not so good. It's under the 60% limit so it is considered "rotten." Personally, I would label the film as okay but because of the visuals, I would add that it is reason enough to give it a look, if not at the cinema then I hope you have a good widescreen high definition TV when it comes out on DVD. I enjoy science fiction. This film is so visually appealing, I could forgive a lot but I have to reiterate that the story is not very solid. The film is already turning a profit and with Tom Cruise's star power, I'm sure the film will be in some measure a success. Wait. Make a profit? Is there another measure of success?

My final word is that if you're a diehard sci-fi fan or really love Tom Cruise, by all means see it. If not, there are others titles up on the marquee which would better merit your attention. If you wait less than two weeks, on May 3, 2013, there will be Iron Man 3 to tickle your fancy, already showing a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.


Rotten Tomatoes: Oblivion: 54%
Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise.

Wikipedia: Oblivion (2013 film)
Oblivion is a 2013 American science fiction film co-written, produced and directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on his unpublished graphic novel of the same name edited by Radical Comics. It stars Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Zoë Bell, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The film was initially scheduled for release on July 10, 2013. Since the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park was set for April 5, 2013, the US release date was moved back to April 19, 2013. According to Kosinski, Oblivion pays homage to science fiction films of the 1970s.

Wikipedia: Joseph Kosinski
Joseph Kosinski (born May 3, 1974) is an American television commercial and feature film director best known for his computer graphics and computer generated imagery work. He made his big-screen directorial debut with the Disney Digital 3-D science fiction film Tron: Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 film Tron. His previous work has primarily been with CGI related television commercials including the "Starry Night" commercial for Halo 3 and the award-winning "Mad World" commercial for Gears of War.

official web site: Joseph Kosinski
Under the section "Works", you will find examples of Kosinski's television commercials.

Published on Apr 12, 2013 by Snouty Pig
Oblivion 2013 Extensive Behind the Scenes Inside Look (21:03)
This extensive, behind the scenes, inside look features approximately 21 minutes of footage from "Oblivion" (2013).


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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Health: One Year Later, One Year Lost

April 7, 2012, this is the red letter day in my personal annals marking the worst physical injury of my entire life. At the one year anniversary, I am much much better, thank you very much, but I am still trying to climb out of the hole and still have a way to go.

To recap: it would seem that I suffered the perfect storm, the right combination of age, exercise, and what seems to have been an inherent weakness in my left side (I'm right-handed). I overstretched the tendons in my left arm and caused myself a number of problems. I slightly separated the two bones in my left forearm, the ulna and the radius. As a result, I displaced the bones of my left wrist and messed up my left elbow. I pulled the long head of the biceps tendon out of its groove in my left shoulder. I completely traumatised my upper left quadrant but stopped short, thank God, of actually tearing my rotator cuff. This also threw my neck out of whack leaving me with a pinched nerve at the C6 cervical disc.

For four and a half months I was in pain twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I couldn't use my left arm for about five months. My left hand would tingle all the time but at its worst, would go numb. I could not walk ten metres (30 feet) without feeling shooting pains in my left forearm and hand. While I went to work and walked to the grocery store, these trips on foot were excruciating ordeals. Other than that, I pretty much stayed holed up in my apartment.

If this trial by fire wasn't enough, getting help, any help, proved to be both baffling and frustrating. While two doctors confirmed I hadn't torn my rotator cuff, they both failed to identify the displaced ulna and radius, the partial dislocation of the tendon from the bicipital ridge, and the pinched nerve at the C6. I visited a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a neurologist, a sports medicine specialist and out of desperation even an acupuncturist, but it wasn't until I ran into a kinesiologist who had dealt with sports injuries that I found someone who had the best understanding of my problems.

The kinesiologist, the miracle man, used a number of techniques to get the various pieces of my body back in place. He used a chiropractic adjustor to jiggle my bones back in place then followed up with massage and taping my joints. The taping went on for months as he had to repeat the use of the adjustor several times. Since my bones had been out of place for months, they kept slipping out of their proper position and the repeated adjustment and the continuous taping were necessary to get my body to heal correctly.

Six times in 6 months, the kinesiologist dug his fingers into my shoulder and yanked the long head of my biceps tendon back into its groove. It didn't hurt but the results were dramatic. He would test the strength in my arm and would notice sometimes that I was as weak as a kitten. He would perform his magic trick, putting the tendon back in its proper place, and then retest my strength. Each and every time I could feel my strength shoot up a thousand percent. It was stunning.

Speaking about strength, what happens to muscle if you don't use it? I imagine everyone can put their hand around their wrist. My left arm had atrophied so much; I could just about put my hand around my upper arm. Under the direction of the kinesiologist, I spent about four months doing isometric exercises. I did however have to go slow. It wasn't just my arm that was hurt; I could feel it throughout my shoulder and my upper chest. As I said, everything was so traumatised that walking would put pressure on my upper body and it hurt. For months I lost the simple pleasure of going for a walk around the block. Push-ups? Sit-ups? Jogging? Forget it. At one point I tried doing a biceps curl while holding a jar of spaghetti sauce and realised even that was too much.

I was worried that I was doing no cardio at all. I couldn't jog as I couldn't walk however I did discover I could do something I ofttimes do during the winter when it's cold: stair climbing. I would walk up the two flights of stairs in my apartment building then walk down. I have no idea why but this didn't put as much pressure on my upper body as just walking did. I started out doing it a few times but quickly graduated to some long sessions. I managed to do the two flights fifty times or the equivalent of a hundred stories up and down.

After four and half months, I started managing to do without pain medication. A few days, then a week, and finally I stopped altogether. I could walk without discomfort. I started to take longer and longer walks.

Finally this past fall, I attempted to jog a block. Then a tried two blocks. Then I managed to do a kilometre. It wasn't much but it was a start.

Feeling a little better and eager to do something, I bought myself some resistance tubes this past December. For those not in the know, a resistance tube is a length of rubber with handles at each end that can be attached to a door and used for strength training. With a great of trepidation, I started doing some light exercises. I was constantly worried about damaging myself. After all, the kinesiologist had to put my biceps tendon back in place a total of six times over the same number of months.

My 1st Anniversary
Two months after my initial accident, I visited a sports medicine specialist. He confirmed I had not torn my rotator cuff then added that I would need six months to a year to heal. He was right and he was really the only person to tell me the time necessary to recoup. Up to that moment, I had absolutely no idea of what I was in for and not knowing was one of the worst aspects of the injury. Oh how I have wished many a time that I had visited somebody in the first few days who would have properly assessed me and told me precisely what I was in for and for how long.

I have slowly worked up to jogging two and a half kilometres. With the warm weather coming, I can see myself getting back to my usual routine of jogging a 5.5 kilometre neighbourhood route two or three times a week.

I have purchased several different resistance tube sets and am working out every two days. I have consulted the Internet and talked with some fitness experts and have put together a routine to develop the upper quadrants. While I can't put my hand around my upper left arm (I now can make a muscle again), there remains a lot to be done. I am now seeing the deficiencies in the strength of my left side and am making a conscious effort to develop it. I remain worried about trying to do push-ups but have attempted a few push-ups off my knees. I am scared to death of yanking something out of place and hurting myself. Oh Lord, I do not want to go through this again.

I joined a gym and signed up for an introductory six sessions with a personal trainer. The first time I looked around at all that youth and vigor, the sweat, the good-looking hard bodies and bulging muscles, and I felt very much a skinny weakling only this time I was an old skinny weakling. (I'm 60) I realised that getting my health back and getting in shape would do wonders for me psychologically. If life isn't full of enough upheavals, losing your health knocks you to the ground then kicks you in the teeth for good measure.

I wonder
In the beginning, the pain just kept going on and on day after day. I had no idea if it was ever going to stop and I got frightened that the condition could be permanent. I had heard of people living with chronic pain but that? They shoot horses, don't they?

Today I am pain free but I am not without reminders. My neck still remains stiff and many times feels odd. The index finger of my left hand continues to tingle all the time and I mean twenty-four by seven. I would guess that I have 60% feeling in it. From time to time, either my left hand or my right or both get these odd sensations like the start of tingling or numbness which makes me think that while the pinched nerve in my neck corrected itself, my neck has not returned to normal. I wonder sometimes if I'm going to do something, whether jogging with the bouncing up and down or twisting my neck to look at something I might not suddenly put something out of whack and give myself another pinched nerve. In the hopes of avoiding that, I continue every day to do neck exercises to both work the full range of motion and to improve the strength of my neck muscles. As on the original day, it is scary to consider that everything could be taken away from me in the blink of an eye.

The Intouchables
I saw this French movie in June, 2012 (my review) and it hit home with the idea that health is everything. The main character suffers an accident while paragliding and is left a quadriplegic. While my situation hasn't been anywhere near that dramatic, my accident has made me realise just how true the saying "health is everything" truly is. Plus other people have told me their personal stories and their on-going issues of chronic pain or permanent injury and I think, "Heck, what do I have to complain about?"

My cousin went to Mexico on vacation and ended up with an ear infection. Despite treatment, it refused to go away and only became worse to the point where he lost his eardrums and almost all of his hearing and was continuously suffering from excruciating headaches. During my worst months, we spoke frequently on the phone commiserating about our problems. A year later, I am pain free and back jogging. He's had two ear operations, numerous MRIs, scans, treatments, visits to specialists, and many visits to emergency when his pain would reach a critical point where he could no longer deal with his problem. To this day he still has headaches of such intensity he drops to his knees. In other words, I am better, he's not. And for him, there still isn't a light at the end of his tunnel.

Final Word
I'm going to be 61 years old this October. I'm no spring chicken. Heck, forty seems like a kid to me. But I would like to try and make this, the fourth and final quarter of my life, as good as possible. I don't want to ever go through this again and I am going to make a conscious effort to consult the experts and educate myself so this no longer forty year old body can function as best it can. I want to walk. I want to run. I want to live without an overwhelming sense of restriction that parts of life are over because I physically limited. Okay, I'm not going to be foolish (no skateboarding down the up escalator), but I'd like to have fun. When my ride is over, I want to be able to say, "Thanks, it's been a hoot."


I wrote a number of posting during the past year chronicling my journey through the gates of health hell. While these aren't necessarily your sunshiny feel good postings (you may want to slit your wrists), it is a reminder that there but for the grace of God go I meaning there is a bit of luck in this thing we call life. Don't smoke, eat right, drink moderately, exercise regularly, and live clean but still step off the curb and get hit by a bus.

Health: The Psychology of Getting Well: Real or bogus? 2012-08-03
I believe the mind can play an important role in our health. A positive outlook keeps your spirits up and keeps you motivated. Even in difficult circumstances you feel you're going to pull through. However for the purposes of the following discussion, I would like to clarify a very, very important point. If you get your arm caught in a woodchipper and have it torn off, no matter how positive your outlook that arm ain't coming back. Yes, a positive outlook may make you feel good but let's admit right up front that there are physical limitations.

Health: Hope truly springs eternal 2012-07-26
This past Saturday, I decide to go to the movies. The theatre is merely six blocks away so it's not like I have a long way to walk. Yes, walking is difficult for me but six blocks shouldn't break me. As a reminder, the difficulty in walking is not because I have a problem with my legs or something, it seems that walking puts stress on my upper body which in turn tenses my neck and causes my herniated cervical disc to push against my C6 nerve and send referred pain through my shoulder and down my left arm. Sometimes it's bearable and sometimes it can be excruciating.

Health: There's a knife sticking out of my shoulder 2012-07-24
I have asked myself on numerous occasions why it has taken over three months to arrive at what I now think is a comprehensive and accurate assessment of my condition. I have also asked myself why I have been bombarded over the past months with such a variety of diagnoses and opinions plus suggestions for dealing with my issue. My conclusion is this: I don't have a knife sticking out of my shoulder... What is my little bit of humour about this? If I had a knife sticking out of my shoulder, anybody whether medical professional or layperson would easily see what my problem was. Let's get that big bad knife out of my shoulder then let the healing begin!!! Woo hoo!!! However, my problem is a herniated cervical disc. You can't see it. You can't see anything. My problem is completely invisible. I stand before you looking completely normal. On top of it, I can talk coherently, smile, and crack jokes. I can move my left arm around without pain. Okay, so where's the fire? What's my emergency?

Health: W8NC, a vague next step 2012-07-20
I leave my car at the garage in the morning with the vague description of the steering pulling to the right slightly, a louder than normal noise coming from the exhaust, and a report of the oil light flashing on briefly a week ago. An hour later at work, the garage phones me with a rundown of the work to be done, how long it will take, and an estimate of the total charges. I mull it over for a moment then give my go ahead with the promise of being there before they close at 7pm to pick up the car. It's simple, typical, and an easy issue to deal with. If I thought my health issue was going to be as simple as that, I was dreaming in techno-color. My "Magical Medical Tour" has turned into anything but that.

Health: Pascal's Wager and Desperation 2012-07-11
The 17th century French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal argued that there was more to be gained by believing in God than not. Even if the truth can't be known, a rational person should live as if God exists. ... If you have an injury, is it better to believe in a remedy than not? Is there more to be gained by trying a supplement, a new diet, or an exercise then by not trying it? Whether it works or not remains to be seen but like Pascal with his wager, if you don't place a bet you can't win?

Health: Advocating for yourself because nobody cares 2012-07-04
I was tempted to write in the title of this article that nobody gives a s**t or even something stronger. However what I am trying to point out is simply that my health is my problem and at the end of the day I must push for answers until I'm satisfied. After all, when I'm sitting across the desk from a medical practitioner for a consultation, I hopefully have his or her attention. But once I stand up and leave the room, that practitioner is going to get on with the rest of their day while I have to continue to deal with my health issue.

Health: Learning more than I really wanted to 2012-06-21
When your health is good, life is good. Although you probably take your good health so much for granted, you no longer are even aware of it. As a consequence, when you hear about the health problems of others, you intellectually understand it but you don't emotionally understand it. You hear the words but you do not truly grasp their meaning.

Health: You don't know what you've got till it's gone 2012-06-12
In 1970, the Canadian singer song writer Joni Mitchell released "Big Yellow Taxi" which contained the telling line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." Yes, it is easy to take things for granted. This captures the idea of the centuries old proverb, "You never miss the water till the well runs dry." Day after day, some "thing" is just there like the sun or the moon and we become accustomed to it being there. However many things don't have the longevity of the sun and the moon and we can see those things come to an end and disappear and ofttimes it is not until something has disappeared that we may realize its value to us.

Health: Life comes to a dead halt 2012-05-27
How do you spell hell on Earth? P-a-i-n. What's a two word expression for pain? Pinched nerve. ... I have said that if anybody could return me to the good health of Good Friday, just before Bad Saturday, I would pay them a grand. Oh hell, I'd pay them ten grand. My entire life has pretty much come to a dead halt as my health has become my number one priority and pain management has been my overriding concern.


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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lover of God

I get a new follower on Twitter. I look at his profile and read, "lover of life, music, traveling and most importantly God". A lover of God. Really? Now I am sure the majority of people would pass that one by and not say anything but I just had to stop. What the heck does that mean? Really?

In my experience, a person who says such things, who advertises their supposed piety, is trying to portray themselves in a certain light. They have taken some sort of the moral high road and want others to know them as better than the common person. In reality, they are anything but. They turn out to not be knowledgeable of whatever religion they are professing. They are not all that conversant with the Bible, They are pretty much ignorant of the world's other great religions and philosophies. And they more than likely are not morally superior to the next person. In fact, their supposed piety may lead them to the conservative end of the spectrum. They're right; others are wrong. They may proselytize.

Why proselytise? I have always felt that there is a deep seated need to confirm their beliefs and what better way of confirming them than by having others believe them too? It is not enough to see the light; they must have others see the light too. And their light is the right light. There is no possibility that they are wrong. Over my lifetime, I have run into a number of "believers" in air quotes who profess to knowing "the truth" also in air quotes. They know what they know but no more. It isn't as if they carefully studied five of the world's great religions or philosophies then decided number three was the best, it's more of a question that at some point in their life, for whatever reason, they needed something and whatever happened to be within reach turned out to be "the answer" to all their problems.

1969: The Bahá'í Faith
In my late teens, around 1969, I ran into a number of people who seemed to be caught up in the hippie age of self-discovery, new age movements, etc. These people were exploring various spiritual options which for lack of a better word were not mainstream. Some of these people were a tad extreme in their quest for spiritual fulfillment and it made me wonder what was missing in their lives that they seemed to be so hell bent on finding.

My girlfriend at the time liked to drag me out to various groups. I accompanied her to various mainstream churches and even an evangelical church where the service was punctuated with people standing up and yelling out "Praise the lord!" We visited the local Bahá'í group who turned out to be very nice people: I remember our informal discussions usually had Seals & Croft playing in the background, a popular musical group who were also Bahá'í. At the time, I didn't understand just what my girlfriend was looking for but I went along because... well, she was my girlfriend. Now, I realise that something was missing in her life: her father had died when she was young; she married at the age of 16; she had a child, got divorced at 18 and had to give up her child to her husband. That's a lot of upset to deal with before the age of 20.

Oddly enough, I remember one boy who became such a fervent follower of the Bahá'í movement that he attempted to convert his family. It got so bad at home that his own family finally had to kick him out. It didn't stop there, though. The regional council of the church actually took him to task for being too persistent in his proselytising as he was giving the church a bad name. Aside: I know the church; I know the religion and even though I'm not a believer, I found these people to be very nice, not some nefarious cult.

As I watched all this with both bemusement and amusement, I began to see that for some people the need for a spiritual framework in their lives was of the utmost importance. I realized that each one of us has "something", whether it is our church, our family or our job which provides us with a place to hang our hat so to speak. It was our base, our bedrock upon which we built our lives and gave us the stability we needed to weather the storm, to live our lives. I grew up in a solid home with parents who loved one another and never divorced. The boy I mention above came from a family whose parents divorced and whose father eventually committed suicide.

I theorized that I could create a religion. If I provided a structure, rules, guidelines, etc., I could give to people this all important framework they needed. It could provide the foundation upon which they could build their lives and allow them to get along in life. I also conjectured that such followers could be devoted, could be a little gullible and could be a source of revenue. Of course, this was just a theory I came up with while idly cogitating on my experiences and I never acted upon such a possible plan.

1974: Scientology
The 70's were my musical decade: sex, drugs and rock and roll. Nothing major, believe me; just an aberrant part of my past in an otherwise average life.

In 1974, I had an opportunity to spend some time at the Berklee College of Music located in Boston, Massachusetts. At this particular point in history, Chick Corea, the jazz pianist was riding a wave of popularity because of his group Return to Forever, a fusion of jazz and rock. Everybody at the school talked about Chick and a television special just about closed down the entire school as everybody in the place stopped to crowd around the nearest available TV set.

Chick Corea was a scientologist and this was very much a question at the school. I had no idea what Scientology was but there was a church of Scientology just down the street and several students at the school claimed to be involved with it including one of my 2 roommates.

Mike, my roommate, took the time to explain to me about L. Ron Hubbard, the movement and the church and even got me a copy of the book Dianetics. He took me through the ideas of auditing, the e-meter and becoming clear and went on to explain that he had so far spent $8,000 US in taking various courses in Scientology.

Wow. $8,000. This was 1974. That's a lot of money. It is even more money when I think that Mike only in his early twenties was a student and didn't really have that kind of money to be throwing around. After all, Berklee was an expensive school.

I read some of the literature; I skimmed through some of Dianetics when all of a sudden it hit me: L. Ron Hubbard had done what I had jokingly theorized about. He had created his own religion. The more I looked at scientology itself, the more I discovered about the man, the more I understood what he had previously done, the more I understood that he made up his own church. In fact, as I later discovered, he admitted this to people.

Further discussions with this Mike underlined what I had run across in 1969. Mike was looking for this framework, this spiritual structure to his life and just by utter coincidence, he had run into Scientology. In looking back on these discussions, I have to chuckle. I have to chuckle in the same way I've chuckled over the years when I run into somebody who seems to know "the truth". There was Mike talking to me with a great deal of conviction about this Scientology. Had he read the Bible? No. Was he familiar with the Book of Mormon? No. Had he ever looked at the Jewish faith or the Muslim faith or Hinduism or the Bahá'í's? No. Had Mike ever read "Discourse on the Method" by René Descartes in which he formulated his famous saying, "I think there I am"? No. Did he know that "God is dead" as per Nietzsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra"? No.

Poor Mike
I'm sorry, Mike. You know the "truth"? You have fallen into the trap I had seen many people fall into: the first thing you ever bother to look at becomes your answer. You don't continue looking, you don't continue any research, and you just accept the very first thing you find as being your big discovery of the truth. How narrow minded, how convenient, how simplistic. I'm not saying I'm some big scholar, I'm not saying I know the "truth" any more than the next guy but I am saying that people who stumble onto something as Mike did as others I know in my life did, does not constitute for me justifiable grounds for anybody to be telling me they have discovered the "truth".

But here's the odd issue that goes along with Mike's conversion to Scientology; did L. Ron Hubbard know this and did it deliberately or was this just dumb luck? Mike had shelled out $8,000 to get where he was and was going to have to spend so much more to arrive at what is labelled "clear". Thinking of the psychological condition of cognitive dissonance, the inability of holding onto two conflicting believes at the same time, Mike would never be able to admit to himself that Scientology was wrong because to do so would require him to come to understand that all the money he had spent was wasted, that he had been duped. Nobody likes being duped so who's going to admit that Scientology may be wrong?

I found out later that Hubbard had deliberately set up a fee structure for his courses because he knew that people do not value something if it's free. Charge for it and you give the impression that what you're offering is valuable.

Tom Cruise
When Mr. Cruise with wide-eyed conviction (and here wide-eyed might mean crazed) that he knew "the answer", I saw what I had seen so many times before. Somebody needed something and latched on to whatever came by like a drowning man to a floating piece of wood. Tom had seen "the" light? Sorry, you have mistakenly employed the definite article when you should have used the indefinite. I'm certain that Mr. Cruise is a nice man but he doesn't know jack shit about religion and philosophy. He may have conviction but let's not forget the followers of Jim Jones had conviction.

Final Word
Lover of God? That's nice. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go. As quickly as possible. And far away. If you had said lover of truth or lover of justice or lover of peace, I suppose I might have let that slide, but there is something about advertising a religion, a category, or a philosophy, which tells me the individual is not open to "the truth", or is attempting to seek "the truth" because they have already found it. Can anybody truly say they have found "the truth"?

If it isn't on a profile as in Facebook or Twitter, it could be the fish symbol on the front door of the house or a bumper sticker on the car: Honk if you love Jesus. Maybe it's an advertisement for one's own convictions but it could be an advertisement for others who are like-minded. Honk if you like Led Zeppelin. Or Metallica. Or Flo Rida. Whatever.

When somebody advertises themself as a Lover of God, my experience has been that the person is ofttimes narrow-minded and very much entrenched in their convictions. When you have conviction, what's to debate? When you have faith, who needs facts? Don't get me wrong, faith is an important part of the human experience, but so much wrong has been done in the name of the Lord. I see the continuation of pain and suffering in the world sometimes tied to conviction as opposed to rational debate. Yes, we need faith but let's not ignore the facts.

So, lover of God? Ah, sorry. For me there is something not quite right with such an idea.


Parts of the above posting appeared previously in "Scientology: Tom makes good movies".

my blog: Conversations with God
Neale Walsch may be an extremely nice man. Neale may have a wonderful message that brings hope to anyone who reads his book or his books. However, the premise spoiled the whole thing for me. If Neale had written that the Golden Rule is a wonderful rule and let's discuss how it can benefit us all, I would have said, "Yes". Unfortunately, he started with an idea I can't accept.

my blog: Scientology: Tom makes good movies
Scientology, Tom Cruise, Oprah, South Park. This dates back a few years but a reference on a recent blog made me think of my own run-ins with Ron. This is not an exhaustive description or analysis of this so-called religion but merely my personal experiences.

my blog: May 21: The End of the World (Afterword May 22)
The end of the world to which I'm referring has been predicted by one Harold Camping, a 89 year old Christian radio broadcaster. His end comes in two parts. On May 21, 2011 precisely at 6pm local time, we will see the Rapture, the Biblical ascension of God's elect people, approximately 200 million people, into heaven. They disappear and the rest of us have to hang around until October 21, 2011 when the end of the world comes. However, according to Camping, instead of the rest of us going to hell - literally! - we just cease to exist. That's annililationism.

my blog: What the @#$%^* do I know about religion?
I grew up in a Protestant middle class family. I remember my father as a salt of the earth type of guy, a touch of the traditionalist but one which was transported into an era outside of his control: the 1950s with the rise of psychology in child rearing and the 1960s with the hippies and social revolution. He didn't know the right answer any more than any parent (including me) and considering the influences outside of the home (friends, school, drinking and drugs), my upbringing like the upbringing of most (all?) kids had an element of luck to it.


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Monday, 15 April 2013

Lily Allen: Fuck You

Look inside
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor

So you say
It's not okay to be gay
Well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get
Do you get a little kick out of being slow minded?
You want to be like your father
It's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it

Do you
Do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
Your losing control of it and it's really distasteful

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you

You say, you think we need to go to war
Well you're already in one,
Cause its people like you
That need to get slew
No one wants your opinion

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you


Uploaded on Jun 19, 2009 by parlophone

N.B. The above video is the official video as the "clean version", that is, the profanities cut out. Below is a link to the complete song with the explicit lyrics.

Wikipedia: Fuck You (Lily Allen song)
"Fuck You" (also known as the working titles "GWB", "Guess Who Batman" and "Get With the Brogram") is a song by English singer Lily Allen from her second album It's Not Me, It's You. It is her third international single.

Despite its titular reference to the Caped Crusader, according to NME and Rolling Stone magazines the song is a George W. Bush protest. At an 2 April 2009 concert at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, Allen stated that the song was about Bush. At a concert in São Paulo, Brazil, Allen stated "It was originally written about this fucking asshole who used to be the President of the United States of America. His name is George W. Bush."

Wikipedia: It's Not Me, It's You
It's Not Me, It's You is the second studio album by English recording artist Lily Allen, released on 4 February 2009 by Regal Recordings and Parlophone.

Wikipedia: Lily Allen
Lily Rose Beatrice Cooper (née Allen; born 2 May 1985), better known as Lily Allen, is an English recording artist and actress.

official web site: Lily Allen

Uploaded on Mar 8, 2009 by LuubiieeLoux
Lily Allen - Fuck You with Lyrics (explicit)


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Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Beach Boys: God Only Knows

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would livin' do me
God only knows what I'd be without you

God only knows what I'd be without you

(repeat verse 2)

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would livin' do me

God only knows what I'd be without you (repeat to fade)


Uploaded on Apr 5, 2011 by SolsburyHill22

Wikipedia: God Only Knows
"God Only Knows" is a song by American rock band The Beach Boys. It is the eighth track on the group's 11th studio album, Pet Sounds (1966), and one of their most widely recognized songs. "God Only Knows" was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and lead vocal by Carl Wilson.

The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first commercial songs to use the word 'God' in its title. As producer, Brian Wilson used many unorthodox instruments, including the French horns that are heard in the song's famous introduction.

Wikipedia: Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released May 16, 1966, on Capitol Records. It has since been recognized as one of the most influential records in the history of popular music and one of the best albums of the 1960s, including songs such as "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows". Pet Sounds was created several months after Brian Wilson had quit touring with the band in order to focus his attention on writing and recording. In it, he wove elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, coupled with sound effects and unconventional instruments such as bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Electro-Theremin, dog whistles, trains, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans and barking dogs, along with the more usual keyboards and guitars.

Wikipedia: The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, the Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962. The band's early music gained popularity across the United States for its close vocal harmonies and lyrics reflecting a Southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance. By the mid-1960s, Brian Wilson's growing creative ambition and songwriting ability would dominate the group's musical direction. The primarily Wilson-composed Pet Sounds album and "Good Vibrations" single (both released in 1966) featured a complex, intricate and multi-layered sound that represented a departure from the simple surf rock of the Beach Boys' early years.

YouTube: Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet-GOD ONLY KNOWS
Thanks to MW for pointing this out to me.


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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Léo Delibes: The Flower Duet (Lakmé)

Lakmé: Dôme épais le jasmin
Mallika: Sous le dôme épais où le blanc jasmin

L.: À la rose s'assemble,
M.: À la rose s'assemble,

L.: Rive en fleurs, frais matin,
M.: Sur la rive en fleurs, riant au matin,

L.: Nous appellent ensemble.
M.: Viens, descendons ensemble.

L.: Ah! glissons en suivant
M.: Doucement glissons; De son flot charmant

L.: Le courant fuyant;
M.: Suivons le courant fuyant;

L.: Dans l'onde frémissante,
M.: Dans l’onde frémissante,

L.: D'une main nonchalante,
M.: D’une main nonchalante,

L.: Gagnons le bord,
M.: Viens, gagnons le bord

L.: Où l'oiseau chante,
M.: Où la source dort.

L.: l'oiseau, l'oiseau chante.
M.: Et l’oiseau, l’oiseau chante.

L.: Dôme épais, blanc jasmin,
M.: Sous le dôme épais, Sous le blanc jasmin,

L.: Nous appellent ensemble!
M.: Ah! descendons ensemble!

L.: Mais, je ne sais quelle crainte subite
s’empare de moi.
Quand mon père va seul à leur ville maudite,
Je tremble, je tremble d'effroi!

M.: Pour que le Dieu Ganeça le protège,
Jusqu'à l'étang où s'ébattent joyeux
Les cygnes aux ailes de neige,
Allons cueillir les lotus bleus.

L.: Oui, pres des cygnes aux ailes de neige,
Allons cueillir les lotus bleus.

L: Dôme épais le jasmin
M: Sous le dôme épais où le blanc jasmin
L.: Nous appellent ensemble!
M.: Ah! descendons ensemble!

Thick dome of jasmine
Under the dense canopy where the white jasmine,

Blends with the rose,
Blends with the rose,

Bank in bloom, fresh morning,
On the flowering bank, laughing in the morning,

Call us together.
Come, let us drift down together.

Ah! Let's glide along
Let us gently glide along; With its enchanting flow

The fleeing current;
Let us follow the fleeing current;

On the rippling surface,
On the rippling surface,

With a lazy hand,
With a lazy hand,

Let's go to the shore,
Come, let's go to the shore

Where the bird sings,
Where the spring sleeps.

the bird, the bird sings.
And the bird, the bird sings.

Thick dome, white jasmine,
Under the dense canopy, Under the white jasmine,

We call together!
Ah! Let's drift down together!

But, an eerie feeling of distress
overcomes me.
When my father goes into their damned city
I tremble, I tremble with fright!

In order to be protected by Ganesh
Let us go to the pond
Where swans with wings of snow joyfully play
And pick blue lotuses.

Yes, near the swans with wings of snow,
And pick blue lotuses.

Thick dome of jasmine
Under the dense canopy where the white jasmine,
We call together!
Ah! Let's drift down together!


Uploaded on Jun 6, 2007 by OpusBoa

Dame Joan Sutherland, Jane Berbié, Orchestre national de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo & Richard Bonynge

Wikipedia: The Flower Duet
"The Flower Duet" (French: Sous le dôme épais) is a famous duet for sopranos from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé, first performed in Paris in 1883. The duet takes place in act 1 of the three-act opera, between characters Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika, as they go to gather flowers by a river.

Wikipedia: Lakmé
Lakmé is an opera in three acts by Léo Delibes to a French libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille. The score, written in 1881–1882, was first performed on 14 April 1883 by the Opéra Comique at the Salle Favart in Paris. Set in British India in the mid-19th century, Lakmé is based on Theodore Pavie's novel (including "les babouches du Brahamane") and novel Le Mariage de Loti by Pierre Loti.


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Friday, 12 April 2013

Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman: Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò)

Quando sono sola
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
si lo so che non c'e luce
in una stanza quando manca il sole,
se non ci sei tu con me, con me.
Su le finestre
mostra a tutti il mio cuore
che hai accesso,
chiudi dentro me
la luce che
hai incontrato per strada.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
it's time to say goodbye.

Quando sei lontana
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole,
e io si lo so
che sei con me, con me,
tu mia luna tu sei qui con me,
mio sole tu sei qui con me,
con me, con me, con me.

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso si li vivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu.

con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono piu,
con te io li rivivro.
Con te partiro

Io con te.


Uploaded on Jun 11, 2011 by MeltsMyHeart

Wikipedia: Con te partirò
"Con te partirò" (literally meaning "With you I will leave") is an Italian song written by Francesco Sartori (music) and Lucio Quarantotto (lyrics), for Andrea Bocelli, who first sang it at the 1995 Sanremo Festival and recorded it on his album of the same year, Bocelli. The single was first released as an A-side single with "Vivere" in 1995, topping the charts, first in France, where it became one of the best selling singles of all time, and then in Belgium, breaking the all-time record sales there.

A second version of the song, sung partly in English, released in 1996 as "Time to Say Goodbye", paired Bocelli with English soprano Sarah Brightman, and achieved even greater success, topping charts all across Europe, including Germany, where it became the biggest-selling single in history. That version alone has now sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of best-selling singles of all time.

Wikipedia: Andrea Bocelli
Andrea Angel Bocelli, OMRI, OMDSM (born 22 September 1958) is an Italian tenor, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Born with poor eyesight, he became blind at the age of twelve following a football accident.

Wikipedia: Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960) is an English classical crossover soprano, actress, songwriter, dancer and trained cosmonaut. She has sung in many languages, including English, Spanish, French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Occitan.

In English:
Sarah Brightman:
When I'm alone I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
There is no light in a room where there is no sun
and there is no sun if you're not here with me, with me.
From every window unfurls my heart the heart that you have won.
Into me you've poured the light,
the light that you found by the side of the road.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I've never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I'll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,
it's time to say goodbye.

Andrea Bocelli:
When you're far away I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
And of course I know that you're with me, with me.
You, my moon, you are with me.
My sun, you're here with me with me, with me, with me.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I've never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I'll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,

I'll revive them with you.
I'll go with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,
I'll revive them with you.
I'll go with you.

You and me.


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Thursday, 11 April 2013

Wedge Shoes: Ladies, we need to have a talk

Ladies, I love you dearly but in my humble opinion, you are not just committing a fashion faux pas here, you have crossed the line into ugliness. Wedge shoes are horrible. I feel so uncomfortable looking at a wedge, it's like I have a wedgie. Yes, yes, you ladies get together and talk about how great they are. I can find comment after comment on the Net extolling the virtues of this accoutrement for the feet so how could I fly in the face of such praise? But, this is me writing my opinion as a man who is not just looking but admiring your feminine pulchritude. I am merely looking out for your best interests in trying to maximise the stratospheric heights of your fashion statement.

What, pray tell, rubs me the wrong way? Wedges are clunky. They are not stylish. They are not classy. They are not - dare I say it? - feminine. A heel, any heel, not just some six inch stiletto, demonstrates a certain symmetry to the architecture of the shoe. By filling in the gap and making a solid continuous bottom, you have created this block-like structure at the end of your foot devoid of any aesthetics. It's clunky. Yes, it's clunky plain and simple. And along with clunky, I would add cheap. Yes, they look cheap as if you couldn't afford to buy a good shoe.

They give me height
If I taped two bricks to your feet, you would have height but I'm sure you can see you wouldn't have style.

They're comfortable
I agree, let's be comfortable. But I have seen many flats with heels of a half inch which look quite stylish.

I want height and style
Nobody said height has to equate to six inches. And nobody said that heel has to be as narrow as a stiletto. There are any number of heeled shoes where the heel is substantial. And here substantial means not doing a balancing act on a pencil-thin stiletto but still being a separate structure which merits being called a "heel".

Do you think you look great with your height? Yes you're taller but you are also clunkier. You have, in some cases, unsightly monstrosities attached to your feet.

Do you feel comfortable? They are plenty of comfortable and yet still stylish alternatives. You want height and style? You want to have it all. I know you want have it all. And I know you can have it all because I have seen them. Just NOT wedges!!!

Height and Lordosis
In my blog "What's up with high heels?", I delved into the attraction we seem to have with high heels and discovered "lordosis", the ventral arching of the back that is the curve of the back is inwards towards the stomach.

All of this apparently connects back to high heels for two reasons. First of all, the heel changes a woman's posture so that her derriere is raised and her chest is pushed out resulting in a certain curve of the spine. There's the connection to lordosis behavior. Secondly, it would seem we all have some innate sense of the proper length of the human leg for the purposes of mating and high heels apparently extend the female leg to what is considered a more favorable length.

True? False? That's what the scientists say and somehow a guy in a white lab coat brings a certain credibility to the proceedings, no?

But even if both guys and gals appreciate the height of a heel, I would lobby for gaining height in a classy manner. Please, no clunkiness.

Final Word
I'm sure I'm going to get killed on this. I have certainly read enough comments written by women saying these shoes are great. They are great? Or they feel great? Whatever the case, they don't look great. I wince every time I see a woman wearing them. Ugh.

I hope you'll see that I have your best interests in mind. As a man I'm not asking you to walk around in stiletto heels to satisfy some sexual quirk I have. (Or any man for that matter?) I appreciate it when you gussy up and roll out the seductive arsenal but I also appreciate it when you're off duty and au naturel. I am only asking here to reconsider wedges. You may think you've found the best of both worlds, height and comfort, but I'm telling you that you've also traded style for unsightly clunkiness. There is no reason why anybody can't be off duty and au naturel and still be classy. In return, I promise not to show up dressed in a Spiderman t-shirt and a pair of torn camouflage long shorts.


Wikipedia: Wedge (footwear)
Wedge boots, wedgies or lifties are shoes and boots with a sole in the form of a wedge so that one piece of material, normally rubber, serves as both the sole and the heel. The design dates back to ancient Greece. Wedge boots are more common for women and often have a sole that is much thicker at the back than the front, making it a high-heel shoe or boot. Wedges for women were popularized by Salvatore Ferragamo who introduced the design to the Italian market in the late 1930s.

Google search: wedge shoes look terrible

Google search: wedge shoes are ugly

my blog: What's up with high heels?
For a number of years I have theorized that if I took two pictures of the same woman except in one photo the woman was wearing flats and in the other the woman was wearing high heels, guys would invariably prefer the photo with the high heels. It seems a given. It seems like an a priori truth. Of course I'm a guy so my opinion may be a tad affected by my hormones.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Frank Baird created Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® in 2001. What started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.

Huffington - Sep 27/2012
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes Toronto: 4th Annual March To End Violence Against Women By Arti Patel
On Sept. 27, at least 1,000 men took part in the annual "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes" march, bringing awareness to ending violence against women and girls.


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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The finite life: Are we are meant to die?

Years ago I read an article about a politician who changed his ideological leanings later on in life, in his fifties I think. The journalist qualified this as remarkable by describing how almost all politicians remain entrenched in their position and do not change. A politician has his ideology and sticks with it for his entire life. It is rare that anybody jumps ship so to speak and walks across the aisle to the other side.

At the time I mulled over whether this idea was applicable to all of us. Do we change over time or are we formed in the first few decades of our lives and remain pretty much as is until we die? Religion, political leanings, ethics, social mores, etc., all of these ideas make up our character and remain as is all of our lives. Subsequent to this, I have heard the idea that regime change comes with a change of leadership. In other words, a regime doesn't change; truly change, until there is another human being with a fresh eye. And regime could mean any organisation whether a country or a company or a group of people.

This curious thought came to mind as I was reflecting on how to solve a problem at work, my relationship with my colleagues, and my interaction with the company in general. It dawned on me that I'm stuck. I have a way of looking at things and I'm not going to change. Sometimes it may be good but it's less than perfect and admittedly sometimes it's not so good but the point is that I'm not going to change. I'm not going to change the way I conduct my business or more accurately I can't change it. I can't necessarily change as what I do is the sum total of who I am: my personality, my experiences, my education, etc. We could debate if what I do is correct or not but I'm saying that regardless of whether I am right or wrong, from the view of the company, change, true change, will only come when I am replaced. Out with the old, in with the new.

But it's not just me. I see this elsewhere. I note that colleagues have their own approach to business, their own approach to life. Right? Wrong? Will they change? Can they change? After decades of dealing with these people, I would say the answer is no.

I read some writers on the Net. After two years now of blogging and following on a semi-regular basis others chronicling their lives, I see recurring themes about marriage, divorce, kids, jobs, and life in general. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, these themes are repeating patterns of behaviour representing the author's way of dealing with something. Will we change? Can we change? After I read the same themes over and over again, I'm thinking the answer is no.

Physical Immortality
Others who have pondered this question have laid out three causes of death: aging, disease, and trauma. Aging we are all familiar with but even overcoming this obstacle in our quest to see the future leaves us exposed to the possibility of contracting a disease. I've heard it said that if we all live long enough, we will all die of cancer. As for trauma, sooner or later that bus with our name on it is going to drive by. That seems inevitable. So coming back to aging, even if we do achieve physical immortality there are two other reasons, diseases and trauma, which could extinguish our flame. Of course, if we overcome aging, who knows what we may have come up with to overcome disease and trauma?

Our Mental or Spiritual Limitations
I come back to the opening premise. Even if we could live forever, would we change mentally? Would we evolve spiritually? If the answer is yes, just how long would that take? I am certain there are more than enough examples from today where people spend their entire lifetime doing what many consider being less than exemplary. Addictions, addictive behaviour, personality disorders, the list could go on and on, and here I am talking about obvious defects of character. There are a host of behaviours classified as being off of centre which while not meriting being locked up in jail or deserving a 30 day stint in a psychiatric facility, continue to raise eyebrows for the duration of the person's life. Maybe this is a quirk rather than a character defect.

Even if we could live forever, do we have the capacity to change, to truly change? And here, let me bring up the dramatic. We get our arm caught in a wood chipper and have if amputated. Will we eventually accept? We get a divorce, the emotional equivalent of getting our heart and soul caught in a wood chipper. Will we ever get over it? Will we achieve that Zen-like acceptance that the sun is going to come up in the morning and there is nothing we can do about it other than accept it? Will we ever recite the Serenity Prayer and mean it?

Physical Limitations
Uncle Brady is 97 years old. He has had a slow-growing cancer for the past 7 years. The doctors are apparently surprised as his original diagnosis was six months to live but like the Energizer bunny, he just keeps going. He has confessed to me that he's tired. He knows his time is up and he'd like go. Physically he's quite limited and his quality of life has suffered. This is an important aspect of living a long life or living forever. If you don't have quality of life, who cares about quantity of life? Uncle Brady has chronic pain from his cancer. He has difficulty walking and ofttimes must use a scooter. He has macular degeneration in one eye and despite an operation, only has 50% vision in the other eye. Yes, he's alive but not in the best of circumstances. He wants to go. Continuing in these poor circumstances is more of a contest of endurance than a pleasurable experience. At some point, won't we all ask, "What's the point?"

Final Word
Our life is finite. Like Uncle Brady, we are physically going to run down. The body is just going to wear out; the quality of life will drop, and at some point we won't just shuffle off our mortal coil, we will want to shuffle it off. The party is over. It is time to go home.

But the other question is whether or not we are all meant to be here on a temporary basis. Staying around forever or even a longer than we currently do would not be good for us and would not be good for everybody else. The world needs a fresh eye. The world needs a change of leadership, and true change can only come about when the old guard takes its leave and the next generation steps up to the plate. It's interesting sometimes to completely clear off the table and lay out a brand new sheet of paper. Nothing has yet been done. There is nothing to correct, no smudges to wipe clean, and no mistakes to erase. Out with the old, in with the new.

This past weekend, I held my three month old nephew, Michael. He's a blank slate. He's a fresh start. He is unblemished by life and its many vicissitudes. He still has both arms having not yet encountered a woodchipper. Probably like all adults, hope springs eternal and I (and the rest of the family?) look upon him with the hope he will get it right.


Wikipedia: Requiem for Methuselah
"Requiem for Methuselah" is a third season episode of the original science fiction television series Star Trek, first broadcast on February 14, 1969.
Flint confesses that he is immortal, born on Earth in Mesopotamia in the year 3834 BC. He was a soldier, and after falling in battle and later recovering he discovered he could not die. As time went on, he lived several "lifetimes" under names that would become historically important, including Da Vinci, Brahms, Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Methuselah, Merlin, Abramson, and others.

Wikipedia: Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever, or eternal life. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering. Natural selection has developed potential biological immortality in at least one species, the jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula.

Wikipedia: Turritopsis nutricula
Turritopsis nutricula, the immortal jellyfish, is a hydrozoan whose medusa, or jellyfish, form can revert to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature... effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal.

my blog: Steve Jobs (1955-2011): Our Time is Limited
Death is Life's change agent. At some point, I will die. And that's a good thing. It's an odd statement to make that me dying is a good thing but then again, maybe not. Those who come after me will do, will hopefully do, a better job than I did. And that would most certainly be a good thing.

my blog: Immortality: simply by doing one great thing
In 2006, Johnnie Walker produced a 60 second television commercial called "Human" which was a science fiction story from the future from the perspective of an android. The story reminds one of Isaac Asimov or the film "I, Robot" by Steven Spielberg based on Asimov's writings.

Uploaded by thepabs06 on Oct 20, 2006
Johnnie Walker Android
I can achieve immortality by not wearing out. You can achieve immortality simply by doing one great thing.


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