4/30/2005

De Family

In an effort to prove that I'm not all cynicism and anger I've decided to dedicate today's page to some pictures of my "kids" Yep I'm going to prove that an iconoclast can be just as mushy and sentimental as the next person. Now everyone has already met Pippen, who gave his name to the address of this illustrious page, but still has not had the pleasure of everyone else's company(unless of course you've linked over to my web page...Speaking of links have you been to my store yet at Lulu. com-I've got a new booklet of poetry going slow and a couple more chapters of the novel uploaded HINT HINT) To start will have the eldest of the bunch: Star turned 13 in February, but still maintains a slightly demonic streak, one only has to see her run down the hall of our apartment via the wall to understand she a special relationship with gravity. I have always thought that there was something snake like about cats, and Star has a characteristic quite unique to her in that she can lower nictitating lenses over her eyes, an inner eye lid that looks like a naked layer of skin. Its actually quite revolting. Thankfully she's not doing that in this picture. Here she is eating some tuna in the "Kitty Hammock"

Star in the Kitty Hammock! When my wife Eriana and I got together she brought with her four cats, with Star being the youngest. Unfortunately illness took its toll her brother and sister; one we lost to diabetes after two years of insulin shots, a second developed cancerous tumors in her ears that gradually became too much for her, and the third got badly scalded when a pitcher of boiling water blew up in my hand. Although she survived the accident, thanks to some wonderful vet work by the people at Beardal's Animal Hospital in Kingston Ontario, we think she never recovered from the shock of the experience and her body shut down a year later. She stopped eating and drinking, and we were trying to keep her alive by force feeding and home intravenous, but after she stopped passing fluids we let her go. After the diabetic cat passed we waited a year until we found someone to adopt. Eriana had started dreaming about a grey cat named Ely about a month before we found him. One day she went into a pet store near at hand to look around and as she walked by a cage a little grey paw snaked out and swiped at her. She looked in the cage and the same paw reached out and bopped her on the nose. She came home to await my arrival from work and told me about him. I looked at her and said "Let's go" The first year was difficult to say the least. Ely has some wild cat in him, and he was what you would call an exuberant kitten("I'm going throw him out in the street if he doesn't calm down" was the frustrated comment of my wife one day after fruitlessly trying to study with him destroying the house) Anyway he has since settled down and is now 3 years old and huge. Not heavy but muscular. I'm just glad he likes us.

Ely curled up in a small ball in the kitty hammock

(Note the size of the shoulders and neck)
Eriana and I were married in July of 2003 after living together for seven years. In September of that year her oldest cat left her. She had been plagued with cysts in her ears for years, small growths that did her no harm but filled her ears with dirt. What we didn't know(and neither did the vets) was that this condition could and did develop into an untreatable cancer. The surgery to remove them actually caused them to multiply and spread. We decided that we needed to find a replacement for her immediately. With that in mind we headed up to the pet store to look for a new female cat. Upon entering the store we proceeded back to the glassed in enclosure where the kittens were living and each immediately spotted a cat. Not the same one. My eye was caught by a little black female sitting in the back of the enclosure casting a disdainful eye upon her fellows who were pushing and shoving in the food and water bowls, while regally cleaning a paw: definitely royalty. Meanwhile on the other side of the partition, the case was split into two halves so as separate litters, a small black form had plastered himself belly first against the window upon seeing her. We asked if we might see both of them. We stood there with one on each shoulder while they greeted each other like long lost siblings(they were from different litters) cleaning each other and purring happily. I asked Eriana what she wanted to do, knowing full well what the answer was and so Pippen and Bridget came home with us.

Queen Bridget Anu Marcus on the throne!

Pippen in the Kitty Hammock

(Note the tongue hanging out)

Well there you are, you've now met the kids, and have another piece of the puzzle that does or does not make up the picture that is me. Is he bitter and angry, raging against injustice and the general stupidity of the human race, or is that all a fraud and he's really just a sentimental softy? Well, don't ask me how the hell should I know, and its not any of your business anyway.

cheers

gypsyman

4/29/2005

Take Back The Night

Have you ever found yourself in the position where you know that your presence is making someone uncomfortable? Unfortunately what happens quite a lot, and for the worst of reasons, is that I make slightly more then half the population uneasy simply because of my gender. Whether walking down a side street in twilight, sitting sharing a doctor's office alone I feel helpless with the knowledge that just by being there I have created tension for the other person. Is this anyway to live? How have we allowed our world to degenerate to such a state where over half the population has been so subjugated, defiled, and maltreat in general to such an extent that the natural state between our two genders is at best mistrust descending down into fear? With women on the whole still being treated as sort of high maintenance appliance by society things aren't likely to change for the better any time soon either. Its easy enough to point the finger of blame at the usual suspects; religious fundamentalist of all faiths primarily, but its far more insidious then that. From commercials proselytise the flaws inherent in being a women; aging, bleeding, smelling and hormonal depression, to the continual projection of an unreachable ideal of perfection dreamed as personified through anorexic models and perpetuated by entertainment starlets determined to hack and trim their bodies into shape, the perspective of a flawed creature is promoted. But objectification can't exist without a willing audience. If men did not accept this portrayal, if we were not complicate in the continual subjugation of half of our species, it could not occur. You may think that looking at pictures in a calendar or magazine is harmless, or that telling that blonde joke doesn't hurt anyone, but it all contributes to a culture of depersonalization. Each time we forget there is a person with a brain and feelings in that body is another time we treat them as less then ourselves. It is this atmosphere that leads to the preponderance of rape, violence, and abuse. If we create a society where in one segment, no matter how large a proportion, is considered something lesser, then that is the way they are treated. From the judiciary to the locker room the male attitude of condescendsion is identical. Whether the dirty joke or the rape victim who is made to feel at fault its all the same thing. YOU DON'T MATTER. unfortunately there is no easy solution to this problem. With each passing generation there seems to born a new wave of repression; currently the gangsta' rap of the ghetto being adopted by everyone as cool has taken it to a new low, and the backlash against political correctness fueled by the right wing has taken its toll on advances made in previous decades. Once again we are presented with the ideal as being either making lots of money so you can be swarmed by scantily clad"bitches" or the subservient compliant virgin who has kept herself for the marriage bed. These are the traditional polar extremes of what is deemed acceptable for women of course, the whore and virgin. Sound familiar!!!(hint: check out the New Testament) Be aware, be respectful, correct behaviour if possible, call the cops necessary(it is your business)and if you find yourself on a back street with a woman alone, cross to the other side of the street to move away from her. Its the least you can do. cheers gypsyman

4/28/2005

On Being An Artist

First things first, and this is relevant to the topic, you will notice a new link in the links section on the side bar, Old Voices. This is my wife's website. Here you'll find examples of her poetry, photography, and art work. Because she is trying to earn some money from these works they have all been "right click protected". Don't take it personally. If you are interested in any of the work just leave your name and e-mail address in her guest book and she'll get back to you. Ignore the instruction about contacting a certain location concerning her work as that is now out of date. In fact they are the inspiration for this article. Sometimes your muse comes from the oddest sources. If you read my profile you know that I made my living working in theatre for a good long time. That appearance shaped my perspective about what the nature of being an artist is all about, what it does and does not entail. I've become so sick and tired of coffee house artists whose only creative talent seems to be attitude and costuming themselves, that I'd thought I would dispel a few of the myths that have sprung up about artists. First, and what I would think most important, is that not everyone can be an artist. Sorry that's the truth no matter what a majority of wanabes say to make themselves feel important. Its not that everyone doesn't have some spark of creativity within them, or aptitude for something, but that's not the same as being an artist. Whatever your medium there are intangibles that separate the dilettante from the real thing.

If poetry is your goal, you've got to forget all about punishments and all about rewards and all about selfstyled obligations and duties and responsibilities etcetera ad infinitum and remember one thing only: that it's you-- nobody else-- who determine your destiny and decide your fate...e.e.cummings

To me what that quote has always meant is that you better not being doing your work for any other reason then you need to. Don't be doing it for position, status, recognition, or any other reward because a true artist will get no satisfaction from any of that. The social niceties of the coffee clache pale in comparison to the satisfaction of easing the urge to create. If you spend more time talking then doing, if your more concerned how you are perceived instead of creating perspective, and if your not prepared to dedicate your very life's blood to it then you are something other then an artist. Myth number two: Its easy. This ties in with the first one, in that those who observe don't see what came before the finished result.They think it merely involves picking up a brush and applying paint to canvass, or sitting at a typewriter and clacking away. They don't see the years of preparation that has gone into that moment. How the painter has worked on her technique for years so that she no longer has to think about what she is doing; that brush stroke that looks so casual is actually the accumulation of experiment after experiment to find a means to achieve a desired result; the poem banged off in a half hour comes from writing day in and day out to develop a voice on paper that expresses the one in your head. If you want a sure fire way of telling an artist apart from others, look for those who dismiss technique as important. They will have excuses such as it interferes with their creative flow, it stifles my impulses, or grammar limits what I can express. There's more a long those lines but you get the picture. You'll also find that most of them, especially the "visual artists" have never taken a class in their lives, or those that have will tell you that the structure stifled their creativity. This is equvilent of a surgeon saying that anatomy classes interfered with his surgical style. Myth number three: I'm different therefore I'm an artist. The reality of this one is that an artist is different because of who and what they are. They don't set out to be different, most suffer because of it, spending years of frustration and hurt trying to fit in and be accepted but never succeeding. Its not until they find the comfort and solace that their creative expression brings that they are offered some release. The tortured artist is not a role to be assumed, taken on and off like a beret and sunglasses, rather endured with occasional moments of release offered by the fulfilling moments of creation. Pretend idiosyncrasies, crass behavior, and odd dress are not prerequisites for being an artist anymore then they are for being anything else. Some of the most accomplished artists I know dress as conservatively as bankers and it doesn't seem to affect the quality of their work. Being an artist is like being a priest. It is a calling, an urge to worship at the alter of the capricious Goddess of creativity. She's a tease who flirts with your emotions and mind and can leave you a total wreck. But you keep coming back again and again because you can't resist her charms. Its no coincidence that the Greek Goddess of inspiration is named Eros- erotic-. But to be an acolyte in this temple requires more then just simple attendance and minor genuflections. If you are not slavishly devoted to it's cause, willing to sacrifice all to the point of no return, then please a simple request. Leave those of us alone who are devout. Keep your insecurities about who you are and what you want from life to yourself and don't inflict them on an unsuspecting public by calling it art. There's enough pretence in the world already without the one bastion of true human individuality being besmirched through association by posers and dilettante. I'm not trying to discourage people from writing and painting and doing creative things. The more creativity in this world the better. The more people learn about the arts and appreciate them the easier it will become for artists to be accepted by society as full members. But those of you who pose and pretend are doing more of a disservice then you can imagine to those that struggle on a minute by minute basis with creation. The image of elitist intellectual snobbery, this I belong to an exclusive club that only a select few can join attitude, has done more to alienate people from genuine art and artists then any government policy and funding cutbacks. Its hard enough being an artist without having to worry about bad publicity caused by wannabes. cheers gypsyman

4/27/2005

Hope

Those few who have been reading this blog have probably reached the conclusion that I carry a lot of anger around with me. I'm sure some of you dismiss it as sour grapes, well he's obviously poor, not part of the power structure etc. So feels left out and has no option but to criticise. Maybe that does have something to do with it, but the thing is I come from a very privileged background(upper middle class) and live in one of the most privileged societies in the world. Unlike the majority of the world's population, including countries such as the United States) I have access to free medical care, a social welfare system that supports the disabled maintain a marginal standard of living, have the freedom to speak my mind, and live relatively without fear of death or injury. That being the case, why all the anger? A prevailing attitude is that you should just be grateful for what you have and not bite the hand that feeds you. This attitude has filtered down into the public consciences from the top recently as an attempt by governments to provide a target for the frustrations of the middle class who have seen their true earning power erode over the years. By deflecting the blame away from failures in our system, and themselves, the powers that be have created a scapegoat of those most unlikely too defend themselves. By blaming society's woes on it's victims you not only justify any actions taken against them but you ensure, at the least, benign complicity from the public at large. It also gives the added benefit of making people like me seem like ungrateful whiners. Its a very cynical take on the divide and conquer technique. Instead of simply insuring that the disparate elements of society stay separate through laws of status, class and culture, an us and them attitude is generated that ensures support for policies comes from people who are nominally opposed to your. An example of this was in the province where I live in Canada, Ontario, a conservative government siphoned union rank and file support away from a pro labour party by slashing taxes at the expense of social programs while demonising the poor as cheats, drunks and lazy. This type of policy only works if you can count on people being selfish enough to not care about those less fortunate then themselves. Unfortunately that is something that governments seem to be able to count upon in more and more situations. The environment, health care, and education are just three areas that I can think of off the top of my head where they have or are attempting to play this card. Sacrificing the air we breath with dire warnings of the economic fall out of lowering greenhouse gases; closing half the hospitals to save tax dollars, declaring a health care crises because of increased waiting times for care, then promising better service if only we could have a system where people with the money to afford private insurance would be able to go to private hospitals; and tying funding for Universities to numbers of students graduating in so called professional programs while gutting the grant and loan system, in an attempt to get more "bang" for the taxpayers dollar. In each instance there is dependence on the shortsightedness of the public at large for these policies to work. Those chickens are going to come home to roost as real ugly turkey vultures one day soon. Our air will be unpredictable, the costs for health care will actually increase as more and more people are unable to get regular medical attention they will eventually need expensive long term care to deal with illnesses that could have been prevented with timely intervention, and with universities turned into factories to produce a professional class, affordable to professionals only, the gap between the rich and poor will continue to widen, and any hope that people may have had of bettering themselves will disappear. I guess this begs the question of why I've called this post Hope. It's not sarcasm, its genuine. You see there is hope. Look at the things that make me angry. Look at what they're dependent upon. Everything is dependent on us doing and being the way governments want us to be. They cynically manipulate our emotions to contrive situations that will elicit the response they want from us. They couldn't do any of the things they do without our acquiescence. That's where the hope lies. That we can change the world. We are not powerless. Our leaders are the ones without power, all that they are they get from us. If we want health care then we must demand it. Don't take no for an answer. The time of excuses is over. Stop blaming the politicians, look at yourself in the mirror and ask what is more important to you. A little extra money in your pocket or your child staying healthy, having a chance at an education, and being able to grow up in a world with fresh air. You are your own best hope for a better world, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, and don't trade it away for the false hope of instant gratification. cheers gypsyman

4/25/2005

Disney's Wonder World

He's going too far this time, this long haired iconoclast(whatever that means, sounds like anarchist and antichrist tho' so you know it can't be good) Besmirching the good name of that great American institution Walt Disney. I mean how could you not find anything more wholesome and family oriented then that. The wife and I took the kids down a couple years ago and we had a great time. The kids really liked the animal safari thing; we heard people who had been on a real trip to Africa say it was really better then going, what with not having to put up with the poor hotels and roads over there and all the beggars; the animals looked so real. Disney, no matter which one you go to, is a great place and I think only a real negative person could get all up in arms about the things this guy goes on about. First he say it's ironic(have you ever noticed how all these cynical types call everything ironic, it makes them sound intelligent or something)that Disney has built a safari ride preaching conservation when they've built the whole complex in the delicate eco-system of the Florida Everglades, destroying valuable habitat and upsetting the water table. Goodness it's just swamp land, what could live there aside from some alligators and such that no one is going to miss, and Disney has its own water supply and disposal anyway, so I don't see how they're doing anything to the water table, whatever he means by that. Then he has the nerve to say that the Epoct centre is a symbol of increased American isolationism because, get this, he says"it prepackges culture into bite size pieces of stereotypical servings" I don't know what the hell that is supposed to mean, maybe he's talking about the food. But like I said before it was a good education for the kids, and us I might add, to see all those people dressed in their natural clothing doing their normal day to day stuff. It shows you just how different everyone in the world really is, but after seeing some of the things other guys were forced to wear(I didn't know all Arab men wore some sort of dress)I'm not about to change in my jeans, no matter how quaint the wife thinks it.(I almost slapped the youngest upside the head for making comments about my legs and those skirts the Scottish guys had on, the kids got quite the lip on him) But he's not satisfied with just attacking Disney World, now he's going after their movies too. Now I didn't think much of that Hidalgo thing, what with having that foreign guy Viggo something staring in it and all the nasty things he's had to say about our government, and I didn't think that subject matter was exactly family oriented(showing our army in a bad light for doing something that had to be done to preserve our country)but to here him ridiculing it as nothing but the"made up fantasies of a wannabe western hero" is just downright degrading to the memory of Tom Hopkins, one of the last real living cowboys upon whose autobiography they based the movie. The nerve of him implying that the race in the movie never even took place. He bases that on the testimony of a few Arabs who claim to be from families who have bred horses for generations and have never heard of The Ocean of Fire, and the fact that he says in order to travel that amount of distance in Africa you'd have to go down as far as the country of South Africa. He doesn't have to get all literal minded, I'm sure the course had a few twists and turns in it to make up any differences he thinks there were. But it gets worse. Now's he's turned his sights on the Pirate movies. You remember the first one a couple of years ago: The Curse of The Black Pearl(a great ride at the park too, my youngest lost his lunch on it though: never give a kid a hot dog, fires, and shake before going on a ride) That Johnny Depp is a little suspect, living in France and all, and I thought they should have done something about making him a little less fruity(the wife wondered how long it took him to put on his face every morning, I said it couldn't be anywhere near as long a time as it took her) But aside from that it was great fun for all of us. How many live movies are there for the whole family to see these days? Anyhow, Mr. Iconoclast has got himself all hot under the collar about the way in which some locals are begin portrayed in the upcoming parts two and three being shot in the Dominican Republic. It seems over the years they got the reputation as being cannibals(I say where there's smoke there's fire) which they deny(would you admit that your grandfather ate someone)and they are objecting to the fact that Disney is going to have them trying to eat the main characters. Well geez what does it matter anyway, its just a movie, can't you folk lighten up. Haven't they heard the saying: Any publicity is good publicity. He goes on and on; infringing upon freedom of speech by refusing to distribute that unpatriotic garbage by Michael Moore(you couldn't pay me to see that), that the truly heartwarming Polar Express invalidates other beliefs by preaching only by believing in Santa Claus can you be happy, and perpetrating stereotypes with movies like Aladdin. Mr. Iconoclast is so typical of these doom sayers today, raining on everyone's parade and trying to ruin things for the rest of us. I think a lot of the worlds troubles could be eased if people like him just stopped mouthing off and stopped trying to upset people. All that it does is make people have doubts about those things they should just accept as facts of life. I'm sure the situation in Iraq would be over by now if more people just supported our troops and our government and stopped asking questions, it sure would make things a lot easier anyway. cheers gypsyman

4/24/2005

An Iconoclasts Icon

Yup that's right even a seemingly cynical guy like me can have heroes. I admit they are few and far between because I have pretty high standards as far as public figures go(there are tons of heroes in this world: single moms and dads who raise their kids up well, people who work 15 hour shifts in emergency rooms etc) For the most part I assume that they have an agenda of their own that they follow and their endeavors are simply a means to an end. But that only makes the exceptions that much more exceptional. Steven Lewis is currently the United Nations special envoy to Africa. He has the utterly thankless and heartrending job of trying to convince the rest of the world to do something about the plight of people living in that colonial hung over continent. The obstacles to overcome include: distinct cultural groups forced into artificial boundaries thus inflaming old tribal hatreds, famine, overpopulation, extreme poverty(brought about by debt ridden governments, corrupt governments, exploitation of natural resources by foreign nationals with little or no money staying in the countries of origin), complete lack of infrastructure that we take for granted(sewers, schools and roads), poor agricultural practices, decease(about 1 in 4 people in Africa will be or are H.I.V. positive), and, the most difficult of all, the complete indifference of the rest of the world. Mr. Lewis has a history of being the social conscience for society. His father was leader of the social democratic New Democrat Party of Canada (N.D.P.) who fought long and hard for the rights of the downtrodden in Canada(His book "Corporate Welfare Bums" was the first real expose of how major corporations were able to increase profits at our expense through tax breaks which were theoretically supposed to ensure the development of new jobs, but in reality ended up lining the pockets of the owners) Picking up the political mantle from his father Steven became leader of the provincial N.D.P. in Ontario, Canada's largest most heavily populated and industrialized province. Although neither man ever held power they both managed to effect meaningful changes in government policy, especially Steven during his time in Ontario politics. Through his efforts we in Ontario had one of the more comprehensive tenant protection acts visa vi universal rent control. Until these laws were gutted by a subsequent radical conservative ruler they kept a lid on drastic increases in rent thus guaranteeing affordable housing with dignity and choice. As a young man Steven fought against injustice by joining Martin Luther King Jr.'s freedom riders in the deep south. In the late sixties he traveled to Africa for the first time, when he worked as a volunteer during the first horrific famine of this era in Biafra. Civil war caused by the dissolving of colonial rule without safeguards caused massive population displacement and the first contemporary images, that have become all too familiar, of mothers holding babes starving to death in their arms, fly covered and stomachs bloated, were broadcast into our homes. Instead of waking the rest of the world to the potential of the horror that could be unleashed, the warning of Biafra was ignored, as it seems is each subsequent disaster. All we need do is witness the forlorn efforts of General Daliard of Canada to interest the world powers in preventing genocide in Rwanda to realise that the message still hadn't sunk in ten years ago. With Sudan now a powder keg we can only hope that more then just token admonishments are being considered(The Bush government's declarations of "genocide" months ago when describing the situation ring cynical when considered in the light of their inaction in doing anything concrete and the rich oil deposits in the Sudanese deserts.) We are left with a single man as our conscience, fighting to keep Africa in the headlines of the papers, making a nuisance of himself by telling anyone who will listen how truly horrific the situation has become. Mr Lewis doesn't just sit at a desk in the U.N.'s offices in New York city. He's out in the villages meeting the aid workers and the people struggling to live with the death sentence of AIDs. Fighting to get condoms distributed, sex education classes implemented, and to just get people to openly talk about the deadly swath that AIDS is cutting through the population against the wishes of the American government, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, and deep rooted tribal taboos about discussing such subjects. As Canada's Ambassador to the U.N. in the eighties Mr. Lewis was aggressive in pursuing an agenda of opening the world to the plight of the Africans. The reward for his efforts has been to become a one man spokesperson and fulcrum for anything positive to get done on that continent. He has set up a charitable foundation to fight AIDS through education and medical assistance(I believe it is simply called The Stephen Lewis AIDS foundation) So even if his official ties through the U.N. are ever dissolved, he will always be involved in the fight to put right the wrongs of our past. If he just simply did this then he would deserve our respect, but the fact that he can do this with hope, and without anger and cynicism, with compassion and strength, and still maintain his enthusiasms for life, well that just makes him all the more deserving of our thanks. Thank You Steven Lewis. cheers gypsyman

4/23/2005

What's Everyone So Afraid of?

My mind tends to wander all over the place, think about odd things at odd times. Primarily this seems to happen when I'm doing something mindless like the dishes, or waiting for my coffee to brew. That's when I ask myself the best questions. Take for instance just now. I'd woken up from an afternoon nap and gone out to the kitchen to start a coffee and I was standing there looking out at the rain hitting the window(hopping it wouldn't start coming in again)and out of nowhere a thought popped into my head. Why is everything about control in religion? I'm talking about the big three here only of course. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. They all start off by loading on the guilt. Your all sinners to begin with they say. Adam and Eve screwed up and you guys are still paying for it, stained by that original sin. There you go, a black mark against your soul right from the get go and you've got no say in the matter. Talk about a stacked deck. Of course if you're a good little boy and girl and follow all the rules, well then you'll get a reward after your done here. Eternal Salvation. Heaven. Whatever. But if you continue to on in your sinful ways, then that's it, straight to the pit with you. Eternal Damnation. Now Christians seem to get off a little easier then the rest of you. For them God sent down his son Jesus to die and take away the stain of original sin for you. But then again if that's not the ultimate guilt trip...I gave up my kid for you so the least you can do is get it right from now on. What I want to know is why are they desperate to control all aspects of people's lives. What are they so scared we are going to do? Can it be any worse then any of the crimes that have been committed in the name of any of these religions? I hate to say it but I think that Karl Marx was on the right track when he talked about religion being the opiate of the masses, but he didn't go far enough. Not only do the religions control people economically, but they reach out and suppress our very natures. By linking sex sole to procreation they ensure control over our bodies and freedom of sexual identity. Woe be you if as a woman you don't want to have numerous children or if your uncle rapped you and you don't want to carry the baby to term. Or if your gay and want to be treated equally. Then you'll see just how compassionate the devout can be. How about if you have a different belief system altogether? First its the missionaries to try and convert you, then the soldiers to back up the word with the sword, then the merchants with their material enticements, and the next thing you know your assimilated and your distinct culture is dead.(Cultural genocide can be bloodless) Is it any wonder that certain cultures prohibit contact with outside influences, greet foreigners with poison arrows, or create seemingly restrictive laws protecting their language and traditions. But what is it they are so afraid of? Well I think it comes down to two things. The first is that if you look back in time you'll see a common element: They all three replaced existing earth based, Godess worshipping religions. The usurper never rests easy on the throne, especially the one the goes against the natural order. Women create, the planet is referred to as mother earth and we all depend on her bounty for survival. But in all these religions the main focus of worship is a patriarchal figure. They know on some instinctual level that they are in the wrong and that if they don't keep the lid clamped down tight they'll be found out and tossed out of there. The second thing is related to the first in that they are scared that people will realize the rules imposed on their behavior are meaningless and that their authority rests on thin wedge of people's credibility. They are in a desperate struggle to ensure that people remain unquestionably obedient and keep everything on an emotional good versus evil/black and white level. Without strict guidelines some grey might slip in and questions that can't be answered will start being asked. There are only so many times that "God works in mysterious ways" , "It's a matter of faith", "Allah wills it", or "It is written" are going to work when people aren't buying it anymore. I have no problem with people's faith, if makes you happy and keeps you sane and from hurting other people, that's great. But what gets under my skin is the desperate need they have for people to follow rules that ensure power to a few people, and that continues the subjection of the majority. If the powers of all the religions of the world really cared about the needy they could start by redistributing some of their wealth. I'm sure they could pay off quite a chunk of the developing world's debt without taking that sizable a hit. Until they start acting like they really care about everybody and anybody then there's no way for me to believe they don't have an ulterior motive or simply acting out of a desire to protect their territory.

cheers gypsyman

4/22/2005

Something new

The observant ones among you will have noticed something new about my blog pages. At the very top on the right hand side you'll now see an ad, while on the bottom you'll find a googol search box. I hope I didn't shatter anybodies illusions about me, but then again I do say that I'm an Iconoclast, which of course means somebody who breaks icons, or to translate that into modern terms goes against the accepted norm of expected behavior. As far as I'm concerned that applies to everything, including being someone who rails against the society we live in for being crass and consumer driven. I'm not about to justify who or what I am or my actions, but I've decided to experiment with these ads for the time being for two reasons. One is very simple I need any extra cash I can get. I'm on a disability pension that barely covers basic needs(so's my wife) and every little bit helps. The other reason is I'm fascinated with the whole process of the technology of the web. They say over at Google that they will ensure the ads will be appropriate to the content of my pages, and I'm fascinated to see what they will considers appropriate to what I write. So far this had included an ad for a recycling company, very cool, and an alternative fuel source supplier, even cooler. So if these adds help support the very things we need to change the world for the better I think its more then appropriate. If it turns out that all I'm doing is giving a forum to things that don't work for me then I'll scrape the whole idea, but for now you'll just have to cope. It's no different from those of you with web sites who place ad content on your pages, but here I'm in control of the content visa via my content. I find it appealing to be able to exert control over what is being advertised on the net, and as long as that's the case and it helps me to continue to promote alternative means of living then I've no problem with one little box of text in the top right hand corner. Update a day latter. At the top of the Blog under the title you'll now see some more ads. These are for other blog sites. Each link takes you to a blog, in turn my blog address will be appearing in similar ads on other peoples pages. I've got to try and figure out if I can make the thing look any less jaring. That's the code they sent me by mail and to frank I'm not too thrilled, takes up a lot of space and looks pretty butt ugly. If I'm not able to change it for the better it's not staying. cheers gypsyman

Earth Day

I can think of nothing that symbolises our catastrophic situation environmentally then the fact that we have an event called Earth Day. One day of the year in which we think about this place we inhabit. That's it. For 364 days of the year we pretty much ignore the her, and then we have the unmitigated gall to believe we can make up for the neglect by organising community barbecues to pick up garbage. Everybody shows up in their S.U.V.s with plastic bags to fill up to take to non degradable land fill sites. As meaningless gestures goes this ranks up there with Jerry Lewis telethons and an associate producer credit(something you give your secretary instead of a raise) All that an event like Earth Day does is emphasize how far we have drifted from the understanding that we are only one life form on this planet. In our hubris we have taken to believe that laws of nature simply don't apply to us. Simple things like overpopulation, food supply and sustainability of an area apply to all other species but not us. When we see a deer herd increase in population to the point where it will not be able to sustain itself due to insufficient food supplies(really due to us killing off all the major predators which would keep their population in balance) we endorse what's known as a culling of the herd. Kill off some so that the majority can survive. But the same rules of supply and demand do not seem to apply to us. We have population densities so high that the land we live on can't handle us anymore. Our wastes pile up, we have to import food, and natural resources are depleting. Yet we refuse to see the problem as one of our own making, or even to see a problem at all. Kyoto, recycling, alternative energy are not cures, they are simply treating the symptoms not the ailment as far as I'm concerned. We need to address our very relationship with the planet. As a species, when we were directly dependent on our environment for survival, we had an understanding of where we fit in. We worshiped and were grateful for the gifts we received from the planet. Crops, hunting, clean water, or fresh air, were not taken as our due or for granted we knew we had to abide by the laws that governed all life. From here, the usual argument goes, we moved on into a more mercantile society where the concepts of profits and control became more important, the direct relationship to the land was lost, and we were sundered from the other species. But why did that happen? Even without depending on the land for survival we could still see that we were the same species and that the same laws would still have to apply that did before. Well I hate to sound cliched but the truth of the matter is that as patriarchal societies replaced matriarchal ones we stopped understanding nature and our role in it. As soon as we began simplifying things into good and evil, the us against them attitude of the monotheistic religions that we now follow, we began to think of ourselves as superior and separate from the natural world. Instead of just another species we became The Species. The world was around for billions of years before we showed up(sorry creationalists it's true, we're the Johnny come lately here) and was doing pretty good without us. How well do you think we'd do without her? Don't you think it's time we showed her a little more respect then a one day a year event? You don't have to go back to worshipping nature spirits(although that wouldn't hurt) to accomplish this, all you have to do is remember that you are bound by the same rules that apply to any species that lives on this planet. cheers gypsyman

4/21/2005

A Change of pace.

Well I thought any and all of you out there in radio land could use just a little change of pace. I seem to have been spewing a lot lately, backed by anger, and a strict diet of that is not good for anyone, reader or writer. So for your amusement I thought I'd offer up some poetry. Enjoy. (Of course this could also be seen as a cynical ploy to get you to check out my store and maybe buy some of my work, so be it.) On a winter’s day On a winter’s day when the crows were migrating an icicle dripped onto the roof of a bird feeder. sunlight illuminated each precious drop and cast long fingered tree shadows across snow covered ground. At times like these its not hard to believe in the impermanence of man. Sitting quiet by a window to the world, recalling primordial time, and felling like an honoured observer of how thins should be. There is always something to be thankful for. If I If I breathe the same air as you, if I see the same moon as you, if I hear the same bird as you, if I smell the same flower as you, are we lovers? If, when you touch me we share a breath, a sight, a sound, a scent, are we joined? If the tide of your pulse ebbs and flows to my gravity’s pull and if your heart puts forth roots to my rain and if I bring forth shoots form your soil, are we not one. Well I hope you enjoyed them. Have a good night cheers gypsyman

"Meet The New Boss...

I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised, although it seems like everybody was, that the Catholic church would decide to retrench rather then reach out. It is consistent with their history after all, any time that they have felt under attack they have preached the best defense is offence. During the reformantion, the birth of Protestants, they lashed out with the frenzy of the inquisition and screams of heresy. The powerful do not like to have their authority challenged, and right now the Catholic church sees itself as being under siege as more and more countries exert their independence from the influence of dogma and recognise the diversity of human nature and the rights of women. They have taken the cynical gamble that the poor masses of the developing world who constitute a majority of the faithful, have been kept in poverty and ignorance through the work of the church and their political leaders, will continue to support the mainteinance of the status quo. It is easier to hope for a better life in the hereafter when your current situation is pathetic, and as long as South America, the Philippines, and other developing nations remain insolvent they have a solid foundation of faithful to counter balance the liberalism of the so called more developed world. The economic situation the world finds itself in, debt ridden poor countries surviving by supplying low paid factory workers for the fashion industry and other producers of consumer products that feed the hungry maw, is the biggest ally the church has right now. Aside from the opiate to the masses factor is the reality that a populace kept poor and uneducated is easier to manipulate through their inability to question. It is only with the development of an educated middle class does the questioning begin. If a woman is busy working, feeding her children, tending the house etc, how much time does she actually have to contemplate her lot in life. Only with the luxury of leisure time comes introspection. The Catholic church sees and understands this better then anyone. Remember these are the people who preach against birth control, which would be the salvation and liberation for many a poor country, because they understand these high populations are what maintain their power base. The more "souls" for God there are the lower the standard of living, the more grief, and the more need for the consolation and comfort that only a benevolent father can give. As George Bush has aptly demonstrated in his crusade that the means to controlling people's reactions is obtained by the way information is presented. Manipulation is achieved by the reduction of complexities to black and white, good versus bad, emotional responses. Pope Benedict had already begun this process prior to election through his homilies portraying the Catholic church as under attack and a victim. What better way to rally the faithful then to tell them they are needed to protect their way of life from those who would seek to sully it with calls for reform. By starting to distance himself from other forms of Christianity he is putting the Church in the position of being able to call itself the "True Faith" again, as justification for the need to stand firm as warriors agianst the forces of seculerism. Do not be surprised if one of the first moves of this Pope is to go on a whirlwind trip of the developing nations. A rallying of the troops for the coming war. If he can come back from this with the assurances of their unconditional support, he can then claim to speak for the majority of Catholics and characterise the reformers as being less then faithful and an indication of how far the developing countries have drifted away from the teachings of the Church. With Benedict's quick second ballot election it's obvious that the powers that be in the Vatican are feeling threatened and feel the need for some retrenchment. They are also looking for ammunition to fight back against the liberals in Europe and North America. I think the only question now is how far are they willing to go with this before they risk alienating too many people. Or will they simply lay the down the gauntlet and say take it or leave it. The Vatican is like any other country in the world. Working to maintain influence and power. The difference being is that they believe they have the authority to interfere in the internal decision making process of other countries. Like the United States, who has similar beliefs, they are going to have to rely on the time old techniques of manipulation of information and scare tactics to ensure the success of their agenda. In the past months we have seen increased attempts in Canada by the Church to influence our lawmakers because they do not agree with our attempts to grant equality to homosexuals. Thankfully we are a secular liberal state and have a Charter of Rights which guarantees equality for all, not just the faithful. I think we can look on this as just the opening salvo in the begining of a new stage of aggressive behaviour by the Vatican. cheers gypsyman

4/20/2005

"I don't care how new age...."

The quote I've started in my title line is from a piece by storyteller Utah Phillips. He is talking about the small former mining community he lives in, somewhere in Southern California, and how it has become a Mecca for the wealthy new age population, driving around in their S.U.V's balsting the sounds of dolphins and Tibetan monks out of their car stereos, getting back to nature,"dragging their scrotums through the underbrush", sacrificing goats, banging drums and each other all in the hopes of achieving something remotely spiritual. Any way this old miner, beaten and grizzled, bent from years working the pits, looking up from his serious business of finding the spirit in the bottom of a glass, croaks out in some coal tar voice: " I don't care how new age you get, but old age is going to get you in the ass." Now wait a second your probably saying to yourself, this guy, just today in fact, has freely admitted to be something called a Reiki Master and an amateur herbalist, and here he is dissing the new age types, well what in heck does he think he is? Well I don't really care about messing up peoples nice neat ideas of packaging, but I do care about people who give folk like me a bad name. I hate to say it but that includes the majority of the naval gazing, alien dolphins from Venus channeling, going to the light, angel devotees out there. As my darling wife would say"Give that person a root chakra" or in others words "earth to space cadet". Chakra, wait a moment you quail in terror, that's new age. Not! The word and the concept are older then Christ And there you are, that's the root of the problem right there as far as I'm concerned. All this so called new age stuff are bastardisations of thousand year old traditions and rituals. Whether your being taught "shamanism" by some blonde blue eyed buck skinned clad white toothed wonder from Arizona, Wiccan farming rituals in the suburbs, or Druidic dogma in the downtown, there's nothing new about it. Our conceit, euro-centro chauvinism, and ignorance is all that makes it new. Walk into many a book store and the titles promise all sorts of wonders: Unlock the Warrior within, Secrets of the Druids revealed, How to empower the Celtic Goddess in your heart(ten years ago they would have said: How to find your spirit guide, Let the Eagle guide your flight but times and flavours of the month change) Now of course its all about angels, everybody needs one and there's one out there just for you. The thing is, its all really the same thing being promised. The majority of these, a few, and these are far between, are genuine in their attempts to explain the culture or belief system behind the packaging, are simply being offered up as a panacea to people who have a void in their lives and have no interest in doing any serious work to fill it. In this era of instant gratification the demand is for solutions to our problems without having to take any responsibility for them. In fact the more somebody else can do for me the better. If you can promise an angel will come down and take care of everything then that's just great. Ten easy steps to enlightenment and your done, no muss no fuss, and you can still continue on living your totally self consuming lifestyle without thought to anyone or anything else. What really pisses off is that they are trying to package cultures that were evolved, and in some cases still evolving, over hundreds of years to suit the needs of a particular people in a particular place. Take for example the rituals and celebrations of the Hopi Indians of the New Mexican Pueblos. An agricultural community that lives in the dessert. So the majority of their ritual centres around ensuring the success of crops. How appropriate are these rites for us city dwellers who have no worries about our food supply. Desiring to find a belief system, has led to ignorance of the purpose behind it, which in turn makes the practice of the same an insult to the memory of, or even worse to the living culture. Is it any wonder that screams of misapropriation ring out loud from people within the native, African, and Asian communities. Anything that promises escape or freedom from problems is misleading, there is no light to go into, except the light you might see when you cross over, the true way to understanding is to face up to yourself and learn how to accept who and what you are. If after you have examined your own heritage and find it lacking think then consider another culture to embrace. But do it with respect. Seek out real teachers of that faith, is you want to become a Suffi, find a teacher, don't just pick up a how to book. Show respect, and look at your world and figure out how to apply it to the modern world. If its a living culture it will already be doing that. Remember you can't just take from something what is convenient for you, because that will leave you no better off then you were before. Words of advise from my wife: Examine your own heritage, if you want to learn about Angels read the Old Testament, and watch Kevin Smith's Dogma. (Including the deleted scenes on the special edition DVD.) That should get you started, ground you in reality, and remind you to always hold on to your sense of humour. We live in an extremely difficult world and the comfort offered by spiritual beliefs can not be denied, but they should not be used as a means of escaping from the realities of the world. We are here right now and must deal with it whether we like it or not. Keep your head up, your eyes open, and learn how to believe in yourself and your making a good start. cheers gypsyman

Complimentary Medicine

If you happen to look through my interests you'd have noticed the first one listed is complimentary medicine. I thought this was a fairly normal way of describing an interest in different modalities used in compliment to the more standard health care practiced in North America today. A catch all phrase within which to encompass things like the use of herbal remedies and energy work like Reiki, both of which I practice with varying degrees of authority. Imagine my surprise when I searched out others who shared that interest and found no one but myself. How do other people catergorise these practices I wonder? Most likely people are using the appellate of Alternative Medicine to describe these practices, a name I believe misinterprets the philosophy of these practices. The use of the word Alternative perpetrates a misrepresentation. Alternative used as an adjective implies the replacement of one thing with another, a dismissal of the usefulness, and these days, the implied judgment, that what is being offered is somehow not just different but healthier. It also implies abilities that are not truly available. Whilst it is true that many practices can alleviate similar problems that so called conventional medicine deals with, there are instances, no matter what people claim, where one needs to utilize the abilities and technology that accompanies that practice. Nothing I do could replace a surgeon removing a tumor, setting a bone, performing a vein graft, or replacing a hip joint. To me offering oneself as an alternative is dangerous and we have to be careful with our usage of that word. Some herbals, golden seal, and other anti-microbials for instance, work as antibiotics for certain types of infection, but to say that they can be used in all instances of decease instead of prescription drugs is not only false but dangerous. Or Reiki can be an excellent method to help people deal with emotional, and spiritual trauma, but to offer it as a replacement for psychological therapy is nonsense. The other notion that must be dismissed, this is a mild digression, is that our practices are somehow safer then others. While it is true that most herbals and energy modalities offer less risk of contradiction then pharmaceuticals they can not be said to be risk free. The worst danger is to believe the myth that because it's natural it's harmless. HERBS ARE DRUGS. I don't care if it's flower, a leaf, or a root it's a drug that changes the chemistry of your body and misuse can hurt you as bad if not worse then pharmaceuticals. In fact the misuse of herbals is responsible for all the problems and health warnings one reads about. The two biggest examples of misused herbs are the ones most often read about, Ephedra, and Echinacea. In the case of the former we hear about it being pulled off the market because of causing strokes and other problems from being used in weight loss products. Opening my herbal book I find a big warning saying it should never used in cases of high blood pressure or anxiety, and that its primary function is to relieve asthma and associated conditions due to ability to relieve spasms in the bronchial tubes. It may also be use in cases of low blood pressure and circulatory insufficiency. That's it, that's all. Son the deaths and damage caused by it have by people using it for the wrong purposes. Just as worrying for different reasons is the use of Echinacea as a preventive. It is an anti-microbial to be taken in instances of infection only. To take it in when one is health is equivalent to taking anti-biotics when one isn't sick. Who knows what long term damage is being done to people's immune system because of this application(as a side not: because what is being used for medicinal purposes is the root of the plant, the over use of echinacea has resulted in its virtual extinction as a native wild flower in North America) The risks involved with energy modalities are not as severe but still worth noting. Any instance of energy work is accompanied by what is known as a healing crises. This is where one initially feels the effects of the trauma being treated to a high degree while the body clears itself. These contradictions could include an increase in emotional distress, physical pain, and mental anguish. If a client is not prepared for this eventuality it could cause them needless anguish as they will have no understanding as to what is happening to them.(I have experienced this when undergoing acupuncture treatment for nerve damage in my left leg, and as the nerves healed the pain increased a hundred fold and emotional blocks were broken) As practioners we must prepare our clients for the fact that this is not a pain free process no matter how organic and natural it is. So what is my point anyway after all this. Well it's simple really, I don't believe we are an alternative in the complete sense of the word to the more mainstream practices of medicine, or actually any safer. We can supply alternative treatments to some things offered in the way of drugs and additional methods of helping people deal with trauma, but we can not replace the role of the surgeon or family doctor. As more doctors are beginning to recognize the legitimacy of complimenting their practices with other modalities, we must also draw in our horns of arrogance around the idea that we are somehow better then they are. By offering ourselves as an alternative we not only mislead people but we defeat the very purpose that we share with all fractionate, which is to help people cope with whatever trauma they are dealing with. Lets compliment each other, not antagonism. For those who are wondering I'm a Reiki master in the Usi-Tibetan system and am a registered Karuna Reiki master through the International Reiki Centre of William Rand. I've been studying and working with herbal remedies for the past ten years but have no certification and thus do not consult, supply remedies, or prescribe any treatments. cheers gypsyman

4/19/2005

Hunter S. Thompson: An iconoclast for the ages.

I've been wanting to say something about Hunter S. Thompson since he died but I have been having a hard time of it. For too many people Hunter was the drugs, alcohol, and violence; the larger then life persona that he created, lived and wrote about. My least favourite book to this day remains that icon of the counter culture "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" There in I think lies my discomfort with that title, and by extention Mr. Thompson himself, status, and for all the wrong reasons. Hunter S. Thompson was the quintessential outsider. How else could he have ridden and lived with Hell's Angels in the early sixties. Sure they ended up giving him a good beating, but then Hunter never was one for being a joiner, so that should come as no surprise. To me he was always the epitome of the famous Groucho Marx line"I'd never be a member of a club that would have me as a member" When you rail against the machine, to have the machine try to incorporate you into it's mechanism, is your worst fear. No matter the effort, there is always the fear you are being co-opted. Your only paranoid when they're not out to get you. The easiest way to neutralise dissent is to make it part of acceptable mainstream. Middle Class thrill seekers can say they've read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and get safe shocked looks in return, but it will go no further then that. It's sad that a searing indictment of all the worst elements of the American Dream was co-opted in that way, but that's the risk that we all take when we offer our souls up to the maw of the mass market. Unfortunately for a writer to live he has to have a market to sell his books to, so his control is limited as to how his work is interpreted. I resent blaming the artist for the way in which people try to manipulate a work to suit their own prejudices, and think that to be just another sad reflection of wasting away of individuality of thought. As an outsider(poor white boy from the south) Hunter came to the world of American politics with none of the baggage carried by any of the mainstream press. Totally lacking in the reverence normally associated with the coverage of presidential hopefuls, but still maintaining a fearsome understanding and a fascination bordering on the compulsive for the process, he compellingly brought a presidential campaign to life in "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" Comparing his work to that which passes for journalism in these days of "embedded reporters" is impossible. I doubt if even Bill Clinton would have allowed him the access that both George McGovern and Jimmy Carter gave Hunter to their lives. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" was a compilation of articles written for Rolling Stone Magazine during the 1972 presidential campaign between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, tied together loosely with historical and hysterical background pieces. With Hunter the process of the stories development was an integral part of the story. His struggles to cope with the reams of information, the seemingly endless perfidious nature of the majority of politicians, the mechanisms of the back room boys, and the shortcomings of his fellow journalists were in itself as important as the issues, (if in fact there were any), in the election. As early as 1972 Hunter had discovered the cynical truth about American politics, issues don't matter(A famous story that he recalled has former President Lyndon Johnson running for Govenor of Texas telling his campaign manager to call his opponent a pig fucker. When the campaign manager complained, saying that he wasn't one. Lyndon's reply was yeah I know but make him deny it) Richard Nixon was the first American presidential candidate who truly understood how to manipulate the press to his advantage. He knew that the majority of them hated him and that they would over compensate in an effort to be objective in their coverage of him. This allowed him to willfully misrepresent George McGovern's policy ideas, and have his interpretation be reported verbatim and appear as headlines. So if McGovern said he was considering some way for draft dodgers to return home, the next days headlines were"McGovern favours Amnesty for Draft Dodgers" which would of course be used to paint him with the unpatriotic brush. There was no way for a daily reporter to do anything else. They were on tight deadlines and dependent on the press people who worked for the candidate for their stories. With no time to sniff out stories or do more then re-write press releases they all fast became shills for whichever candidate they were covering. The good press handlers, and Nixon and his team were the best, learnt to release information with about an hour before stories had to be submitted, thus ensuring that their version and nothing else made the news. Hunter also discovered that the myth of the liberal journalist was just that(who else remembers Spiro Agnew's "nattering nabobs of negativity" they just don't make quotes like that anymore) Although some journalists were liberal, they would never allow their own opinions to show through in a piece, and even if they wanted to they knew that it would be quashed by their editors or publishers. It turns out that most publishers were Republicans and as likely to publish anti Nixon stories as they were to pose for a photo with a Black Panther. The other thing was that the papers hated originality. If no one else was running a story then they didn't want to stand out like a sore thumb.(This makes it all the more amazing what was about to happen over at the Washington Post with the Watergate stories in the mid seventies. I think Hunter's explanation of that was pretty accurate: Wooward and Bernstein were neither part of the political writer establishment, the owner of the Post was a woman, Katherine Graham, making her an outsider in a predominately male world, and the Post was considered a poorer cousin to the New York and Los Angels Times papers, making a situation ripe for the exposing of a scandal) What had started out as coverage of an American Election became coverage of those who covered it and how they were manipulated by those they were meant to be reporting on. The myth of the press of the great leveler, the monitor of those with the publics trust took a big hit with this book. Of course nothing has changed except for the worse, but it was Hunter who first exposed the lie and laid it bare for all to see, if they wanted. It seems nobody did. Hunter S Thompson loved his country and what it could possibly stand for. He hated what he call the "greedheads and the swine" who had turned it into the cesspool of corruption that it is now. Although I've really only talked about the one book all his writing was on that path. Explorations of what America had descended too, and a mourning for its potential. If by the end his writing grew more frenetic and his screeds wilder who's to blame him given the current crop of slime that work in politics. Going form the hope of Bobby Kennedy to the cynacism of George W. Bush would be enough to warp anyone's brain. Hunter once wrote of somebody else as being the ultimate free lancer, Hunter was the ultimate free individual in a country that once claimed to champion them but now suppresses them. If I still drank I would raise a toast of Wild Turkey in your memory, but consider it done in spirit. I hope where ever you are that you have been able to find some peace and that nobody is asking you to join their club. cheers gypsyman

4/17/2005

The Lonely Blogger/ Enemies list 2: Canola

Yep that's me "The Lonely Blogger" Maybe I never should have go a site meter and kept myself in blissful ignorance that there might be someone out there reading what I have to say. But being the masochist that I am I went out and installed one. Now each week I get an e mail which delineates my lack of traffic on a daily basis. Yep one whole hit a day, from my publishing page. I've done all the right things you know to raise my profile. I've linked my blog with my web site, I've listed everything with google search engines, I've used nifty catch phrases to catch the eyes of random browsers in the submitted descriptions. Hell I've even stooped to baiting the hook with celebrity names(I've written about Viggo Mortensen) But nothing. Zilch. Nada. Maybe its all a hoax and there's no internet out there. You know we all sit at home posting our thoughts and photos and whatever and it goes nowhere. Nobody is actually able to travel or visit other pages? Nah, because no one could afford to perpetrate a hoax of that size. So it all comes back down to nobody visits my site. Lets be honest, who is going to visit the site of a unknown Canadian writer who hasn't published anything of note and writes really unpopular stuff. Dissing the pope, suggesting banning private ownership of cars, pointing out what idiots we are in general. Probably not many out there want to read about how screwed up the world is, at least from my perspective. I bet I come across a some radical, long haired, iconoclastic crank. Hmm, well that's a pretty could description isn't it. Maybe I should change my blurb describing the blog to that. Rantings of a long haired iconoclast! Yeah that's the ticket to bring in the crowds. Finally the Throngs and Hoards will show up in their Multitudes. My site meter will go through the roof and I won't be able to keep up with the demand for request as a public speaker. Oh well, maybe I'll just e mail links to some friends, and be happy with that.
ENEMY # 2
The second member of my enemy list may at first glance seem a little strange and I should preface it with a mention that I do not hold it responsible, rather those who make use of it. Therefore I give you. Canola
This plant has brought about some of the worst agri business crimes of the last ten years. Responding to the suspicously fast growth in popularity of canola as an ingredient in oil based products more and more land is being turned over to it's production. Where as plants such as soy, peanuts, and corn have multiple uses outside of oil and margarine as a food, canola seems primarily single purpose. Therefore land used for its growth is begin used to simply feed the profits of whatever company is producing the plant and not feed the people of the world.
Given the plethora of canola based margarine and cooking oils on the market it must be easy to produce and render, why else would there be so much of it. It leads me to suspect that the producers have created the market for it for that very reason. Its easy and inexpensive to produce, from the crop up, so as long as its insured that it becomes popular we can make a killing from. Ten years ago had you heard of canola? Did you care? All the claims about saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated fats aside(people were living long healthy lives before we knew about this stuff so I can't see what difference it really makes) there are really only two types of distinct cooking oils that I can see(aside from specialty items like sesame and almond) and that's vegetable and olive. In a blind taste test could you tell the difference between something cooked in sunflower, canola , Soya, corn or any other oil? Not me, well maybe peanut oil, but that's it.
So now the world is flooded with this stuff for no other reason then it will increase someone's profits, but the cost to us seems to be plenty. They actively encourage the use of pesticides in the growing of canola by creating a strain called "roundup ready" which means the plant is immune to one of the most virulent poisons on the market. A grower is thus encouraged to spray entire crops with this stuff, safe in the knowledge that it will kill off everything but his precious canola. Has anybody checked out what the half life of this poison is. What happens to us when we consume it over a long period of time? What happens to the surrounding environment when it's sprayed and their is the least amount of wind that carries it past the boundaries of the farm? What happens to wildlife that eats seeds sprayed with this stuff, and then it works it way up through the food chain? What the hell are we doing? Didn't we learn from DDT? I guess not.
So here's what we got: agriable farm land being used up to grow a single crop being sprayed with a poison that will prevent anything else from growing, thus ensuring that only "roundup ready" canola can be planted on that field for who knows how long all to produce a vegetable oil. Do you think its worth it? I don't.
cheers
gypsyman

4/15/2005

Honoured

I was laying in bed this morning preparing to go back to sleep in an attempt to get a few more hours rest, and one of my cats, Pippen of pippensqueak.blogspot.com fame, was curled up next to me. It struck me, once again, what an honour it was for an animal to bestow such affection and trust upon me. Humans and those we share the world with have a generally advaserial relationship. When we deign to notice them it is either as food, a nuisance, or something to be controlled, yet here was one of them looking at me with unconditional love in his eyes. Some of you might be saying, well what do you expect its a domesticated animal and you feed it etc. etc. but I think there's more to it then dependency. (especially with cats) The majority of domesticated animals have the power and capability to survive on their own. The instincts are not very far from the surface. Watch your pet in play sometime; your cat as it hunts a toy, or its eyes follow the path of a ribbon, your dog worry at a chew toy, or follow scents with its nose, even a pet bunny will react to danger in the same way as its wild cousins. We've done our best to breed out the animus in our animals, as has been done by society to us, but if the trappings of civilization were to fall away tomorrow and all of us had to revert back to hunting and gathering I'd give them a better shot at survival. There is a point in the wonderful book The Little Prince by Antoine St. Exupery when the Fox says to the little Prince: "When you tame something you become responsible for it" Earlier when he is defining taming to the Little Prince he says: "To tame something is to understand it and you can never truly know something until you understand it... Once you know something its unique in all the world." To St. Exupery "taming" is the building of relationships between oneself and another. One has to be deserving of the affection and trust of another. Why should any of the animals we commonly associate with humans be that way. Sure some of them have been genetically modified, i.e. bred, to be more malleable, but ask any farmer what damage a bull can cause if it breaks out of its pen and even the so called docile cow becomes a force to be reckoned with. We don't seem to be doing a very good job of living up to our end of the taming bargain, hell we don't do a very good job of it within our own species. If you were an elephant would you agree to work in a circus; be a performing tiger in a Las Vegas magic show? What have humans ever done for you? I'm not going to bother with listing our crimes against the rest of the world here, (I'll save that for another time) but if you think about it there is no real reason at all for animals to hang out with us. For a lot of them their lives are equivalent to that of a prisoner on death road and they have no choice in the matter. But those who do choose do share our living space with us, do so willingly. The ancient Egyptians thought so highly of their cats that they mummified their remains, some cultures have identified themselves with animals(The Lakota and other planes peoples referred to themselves as"People of the Horse") or have clans designated by animals because of their strengths and abilities. Creation stories involve the animal kingdom integrally, North America being referred to as Turtle Island by the Hay-de-no-sau-ne(Iroquois confederacy). Maybe we need to reflect back on those attitudes more often and think about the honour being bestowed on us by our pets. My buddy Pippen at rest. For those of you who have been here and not seen a picture I figured out what was wrong, well my wife did, I was using an image way too big. OOPS. cheers gypsyman

4/14/2005

Arrogance

I'm really beginning to dislike my own species! More and more the arrogance and lack of compassion of individuals is wrecking havoc upon this world. You can look at in any way you, globally or locally and it all works out to be the same thing: I'm more important, I'm better, and You don't matter seems to be the mantra of today's world. This has been driven home to me on a personal level by two separate incidences that have happened to people I know in two different locations about a thousand miles apart. Both times the death of a beloved pet was involved. My sister in law in Alberta came home from work one day to find her cat in a plastic shopping bag on her front lawn with a note pinned to it saying" your cat was killed by a car, if you don't do something about it we will call the city to dispose of it". The second incident was a neighbour of mine's cat was sitting a foot from a curb on the supposedly quiet residential street where I live and was killed by a passing motorist. In neither case did the person who hit the animal wait to apologies or even stop. (There is no way that you can hit an animal as large as a cat and not feel it) The callousness of this to me is beyond belief. Even if you yourself have no feelings for the animal in question, how can you not put yourself in the shoes of the person who will have suffered the loss? What can of person can just snuff out the live of a companion without any feelings of remorse or even pity? In my sister in laws case the damage was exasperated by the behavior of a neighbour who seemed to only care about the unsightly mess that somehow she was to blame for. If anyone out there is tempted to say "oh its only a cat" then I've got news for you. That makes you one of those people who are part of the problem. You see as a species our arrogance is separating ourselves from the rest of the population of the world is what is leading us to destroy where we live. By believing us to be better we blind ourselves to the fact that each species plays a part in the delicate balance of the world. If you picture life on the planet as spider web, and each strand is a species you can not fail to see the integration. Pluck one stand and the whole web vibrates. In our arrogance we blithely tear out huge chunks of the web not realizing that we are cutting the strings that support us. If we are not careful we will soon be left with nothing. Until we as a species stop thinking ourselves separate, different or better then others there is no way that we will be able to change the course we've been on for the last two thousand odd years. It may not cause our extinction soon, but latter almost always shows up, if not for us but our grandchildren. cheers gypsyman

4/13/2005

A Few Of My Favorite Things

If you look in my interests you'll see that under movies I've listed The Lord of The Rings trilogy as some of my favorites. I'd been a fan of the books since I first read them when I was twelve? And have continued to read them at least once a year since them. So it was with great trepidation that I approached the movies. In fact when The Fellowship was released I had no plans to go and see them. It wasn't until my brother told me he had gone and enjoyed them that I decided to.(If anything he's been a bigger fan of the books then me, and is usually pickier about movies then me.) I was stunned. Peter Jackson's interpretation of the books was wondrous. I know that people had complaints about elements being left out or changed, but he was using another medium to tell the same story and needed to adapt it to suit the requirements of film. You can't do the same things with video as you can with a novel, and as an audience member you are beholden to leave any and all preconceived ideas behind. What you want, and what Mr. Jackson succeeded in doing, is someone who is going to remain faithful to the ideas and vision of the original. These movies served another purpose for me aside from entertainment, they introduced me to an artist who I may never have experienced otherwise. Poet, painter, photographer, and actor Viggo Mortensen. I know that reams of stuff has been written on him, and that people are probably heartily sick of hearing about him by now, but tough shit. The guys brilliant and that's not just P.R. Anyone that can lift a movie out of typical Walt Disney banallity like he did with Hidalgo deserves a medal for a performing. Without him that movie would have sunk into cliche and emotional manipulation. By sheer force of will, and the inherent integrity of his performance, his times on screen(which thankfully predominated)lifted the movie to heights it probably didn't deserve.(As for the true story b.s. anyone who can do math would tell you that a 3,000 mile race in Africa would require the participants to travel down from where they started to Johannesburg) I'm as cynical as the next person when it comes movie people, so when I first heard about him being "more then just an actor" it was with a measure of disbelief. But then I read some of his stuff that someone had put on the net illegally(if you want to read his poems go to www.perceval.com and order a book don't steal from a writer) and was impressed. I ordered a copy of Coincidence and Memory, a compilation of Poems, Photos, and Prints dating back to the seventies. It is a really good introduction to the work of an important artist(if you want to read a full blown review of the book follow the link to my store and download my review for $2.50) I'm torn right now between buying one of two things. I would like to get some more memory for this old machine that I'm running, and a fancier sound card, but now that I'm writing about this, and with Canadian dollar strengthening against the American, this might be the time to order a couple of more books. The two I want are photos he took of the ghost dance performed during the filming of Hidalgo, and a book of photos of horses he has just produced. For fun I may also pick up a c.d. of his spoken word performances with music by Buckethead. They sound wildly anarchic If you've got forty of fifty bucks to spare, give yourself a treat and order one of his books, you'll be glad you did. cheers gypsyman

4/12/2005

Abuse: Memory is real

The following is an excerpt from the book I'm writing(untitled now save for the opening line title Microsoft gave it The Trees Were Singing) The Vatican in its wisdom allowed cardinal Law of Boston to read one of the Masses for the Pope. Cardinal Law is best known for simply moving priests who sexually abused children to new parishes instead of punishing them, thus exposing more innocents to their evil. To bestow such an honour on a man who was complicate in those horrendous crimes is equal in my mind to implicitly condoning his behavior. Shame on them. In this excerpt the character is reliving her first recollection of her abuse. As someone who suppressed my own memories of abuse for twenty years, mainly through drug and alcohol abuse, I have little truck with those people who claim that repressed memories are hokum. No one planted those memories in my mind, it wasn't until well after they started that I sought help, and then only to deal with trauma of remembering, not to figure out what was wrong with me. Anyway, here it is, an excerpt from "The Trees Were Singing" Chapter 2 No one was there, as there hadn't been so many times before, upon waking in the middle of the night. But now there was a nagging at the back of her head, a glimpse of a being. The darkness was heavy on her, and the shadows were too deep, but lighting the bedside lamp only created more places for fear to hide. Nooks and crannies created by objects negating light opened too many passage ways, entrances from which there was no hiding. Who was trying to break into her safety? She wrapped her arms around her knees under the sheet and blankets, debating whether or not to get up and turn on the overhead light. Flood the room with brightness and chase whatever it is back to where it belongs. Just what she used to do as a child when the horrors came on her. Too scared to call out for her parents in case something else would answer (they could have been turned into monsters for all she knew) she would brave the cold floor to wash the room in safety. In the nights that followed the fear kept on returning. Faceless it would stalk her sleep, teasing at the edge of conciseness, until it would spring upon her, sending her reeling out of sleep panic stricken. It became harder and harder to convince herself to sleep. Even the tranquilizer she managed to wheedle out of her doctor were not sufficient to keep it at bay. If anything they seemed give encouragement to the invasions. Instead of numbing her, they relaxed her defenses, providing more breeches in the already leaky fortifications. There came a point when the last reserves were spent, too tired to fight any more, she accepted defeat and let the fear in. It swelled into an immensity, a giant figure straddling the domain of her mind. She cowered at its feet, head bowed, staring at the shoes her nose almost touched. Tan suede loafers. "Daddy" a little girls voice said in her head. Well that's just a short bit, but I think it gives the idea of how it feels when things are coming apart. I still find I go through the same experience whenever a new incident is remembered, It starts with a general feeling of unease and builds to a fever pitch with its culmination being the memory. To those of you out there beginning this process, hang on, your worth it and remember it wasn't your fault. You were only a child and that person was supposed to be protecting you whoever he or she was. Find someone you can trust to help you, if the first person isn't right, find another, this is too important to leave in the hands of someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Find a copy of A Courage To Heal and its sequel The Workbook. Guys just change the pronouns and it works.

The flashbacks are not real they are the past, and if you can find someone who does EMDR therapy and you respond to it, because not everyone does, use it. I have found it really helpful for processing my most recent bout of flashbacks. It's a long process, I started eleven years ago, and you'll find that your mind will give you the breaks you need so it never completely overwhelms you. Be good to yourself and remember these three simple things.

  • I'm Lovable.
  • I'm Loving
  • I'm Loved

Cheers

gypsyman

4/11/2005

Windows Rant

My turn! Yep probably everybody's done it but it's my turn. I use Windows 98, maybe Windows 98 2nd edition I'm not sure. The thieves I bought the system from gave me a manual with second edition on the cover covered over in black magic marker(you can still see it) and a disc with a date reflecting Windows 98. If anyone reads this and knows a quick easy way to tell the difference let me know. Everything everywhere says 98 but a friend gave me an update disk and there was no difference between what was on it and what is on my system. Going to Microsoft is no use because they've stopped differentiating, they just call everything Windows 98.(the pecker heads)(can I say that oh well too late I did already). But that's not all. I've been cruising along for four years now and never had a problem with my dial up. Password saved etc just hit the connect button. Then yesterday morning for no discernible reason it all of sudden demanded a password be entered and the remember box had been grayed out. I spent two hours searching through the system trying to figure out how to fix this problem including running the so called troubleshooter for modems and ended up having less idea of what was going on then when I started. In the end I phoned my service provider who even though it wasn't their problem very nicely helped me out and got everything fixed up in two seconds. I hope it never happens again because I don't think I know what I did. I remember when I first started with Windows reading a book about it, and it saying very nicely that one thing to be prepared for is the system just going out to sit under a tree for a while and re setting itself for no apparent reason. What gets me is that all the new operating systems that come out, especially XP, seem to be even more unstable. So I'm really happy with 98 and have no plans to change no matter how awkward it is. I don't use games, I've got great software that allows me to do what ever I need to do(cool edit pro, photoshop, etc.) In my opinion Microsoft would have just focused on perfecting what they had instead of dicking around with new things that don't work well. Well that was pretty mild wasn't it, I guess the anger has dissipated and my hunger is more important so, I'm going to have lunch. I meant to say something earlier, if you read my review " A Taste of Curry you should get yourself over to http://www.epicindia.com/ and check out his website or go over to Ashok's blog Indiaenglish.blogspot. Lot of fun and very interesting. cheers gypsyman

4/10/2005

Update and The flight of the Raven

First just a quick update. Last week I wrote about the Bank of Montreal issuing an affinity credit card to a pro life group, Life Canada. Well the outrage caused by the article in the Toronto Globe and Mail written by Heather Mallick was so great that the bank has just announced they will not be renewing the affinity status for this group. I wonder what other groups have affinity cards that we don't know about. That would be something worth investigating. I have just finished reading(and re reading) James Barcly's six part series of books about the Raven. A group of mercenary fighters and mages who fight the good fight on the continent of Balaia. When we first meet them they have been together for ten years as a unit, working for whomever will pay their way. But in this last battle they encounter two beings who bring about a change in both theirs and the worlds life. One is a 120 foot long dragon and the other a mage. The first is in possession of an amulet that the second desires in order to piece together an ancient spell. After using the Raven to ensure his successful securing of the amulet he reveals the threat their world is under that requires this spell to be cast. Thus the adventure begins. At first it seems simple enough, recover the elements needed, go into the heart of the enemies stronghold, cast a spell which has never been done before because it risks destroying the world, and hope to survive. But this turns out to be only the beginning. The casting of the spell sets in motion a series of events that will see The Raven criss cross two continents, befriend dragons, be betrayed by allies, befriend enemies, overcome a plague that threatens to wipe out the elves, and cross dimensional boundaries in an attempt to save their world's soul from the grasp of demons. It will also see there birth of an ancient magic which combines all the elements of the four disparate teachings in their world, but has the unfortunate side effect of being almost too strong for any mage to handle without their mind being fried. Sound exciting. Well it is, but its more then just simple sword and sorcery, although there's plenty of that too. Mr. Barclay manages to elevate a rather bored genre into something new. His characters far exceed the usual cookie cutter types we meet in these books, real moral dilemmas are examined, villains aren't what they seem(neither are allies)and things are never just black and white. It's sword and sorcery set in a world similar to ours, with the difference being that the consequences of your actions end up biting you in the nose a lot quicker there then they do here. With the casting of the initial spell(Dawnthief is its name for its power to destroy the sun)the boundaries between dimensions are changed, and the magic used to cast it is brought back. First a rift between the dragons world and Balaia is opened and has to be closed before they are destroyed by an invasion of dragons, then The Raven must deal with aftermath of the barbarian invasion that necessitated Dawnthief, until finally there is one interdemensioal spell cast too many and the demons who have been lurking in the wings awaiting their chance to invade take advantage of a new rip to threaten dominance so supreme that it will even encompass the realm of the dead. Phew!!! But spaced over six books it's perfect. Characters develop, friendships grow and never once does Mr. Barclay strike a wrong note. Emotions are never manipulated, but nurtured through the development of people we care for and respect. His characters aren't perfect, but just do the best they can in the situations they are in, in others words they are human(well as human as a 120 ft. Dragon can get, although watching him trying to learn to be funny is wonderful) These are wonderful books which don't demand too much of the reader, but leave you feeling better for having read them. Cheers gypsy man

4/09/2005

Enemies List

They say its always good to know who your enemies are, and to try and know what they are up to.(who are they anyway these guys with all these sayings and advice)To the end I've decided to try and revive a weekly ENEMIES OF THE ENVIRONMENT list. These are coporations and people who are contributing to the demise of some part of our non sustainable resources. Who are shortening the life span of our planet. I think I'll start with a local company in Canada. BOMBARDIER INC. These guys are a multi national company that is currently best known for always threatening to go under unless the government of Canada props them up with sweet deals on loans and tax breaks so they can keep manufacturing rolling stock for rapid transit systems world wide. They have also recently expanded into the aerospace industry and are developing a mid size jet for the short hops that are in such demand by business travelers. But their real crimes lie in the roots of their business. Their first item, and the one they are responsible for introducing to the world are two of the most environmentally damaging recreational vehicles: snowmobiles and jet skis. Although an argument could have been made for the need of the snowmobile when it was first introduced. I'm sure for the people who live in the constant snow of the arctic these vehicles were a boon to their survival, but with its continued growth as a recreational vehicle we have seen them become symbolic with the destruction of quiet in the winter and the decimation of forest habitat. Cutting huge swaths through fields and forests they indiscriminately plow through habitats that were previously untroubled by human noise. Fright factor alone is enough to condemn these noise makers. Then there is the simple fact that they allow humans mass access to areas that would have been relativly undisturbed, which in turn sets up disruptions in animal behavior, plus the inevitable spread of physical pollution that travel with us like a plague. They will disturb mating and hibernation periods, nesting and gestating families and spread carbon dioxide into even further reaches of pristine wilderness.(the off shoot of these vehicles is of course the horrible ATV which travel the same fields and paths in the non snow months ripping up the undergrowth as well as doing all the above) Then there is the Jet Ski which has never served any discernible purpose except to create horrendous amounts of noise and disrupt wildlife. Even worse is that they are having a noticeable effect of lake side nesting birds. With their shallow keels they are able to approach further in shore at high speeds, which leads to large wakes washing up on the shore line and swamping nests. This has already had a noticeable effect on the Loon population throughout lakes and rivers in populated areas. Many's the time I have an idyllic moment destroyed by one of these monsters of recreational fun. Human beings seem to have a unique talent for inventing ways to have fun at the expense of something else. I say if your looking for thrills and speed why not try and hitch a ride on a shark tail while scuba diving. There's the risk of death and high speed right there. Some of you may say that Bombardier is a small time offender compared to some others, and maybe compared to oil companies and agri-business they are, but its because of that they need to be pointed out. Its important to realize how widespread the rot in our society is. Remember cancer always starts out small, but it quickly grows to dominate the healthy body. cheers gypsyman