Monthly Archives: December 2018

2018 – Merry Christmas (and good luck…)

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commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree#/media/File:Arbol_Navidad_02.jpg, Public Domain.

Yes, today is Christmas; may all be enjoying the company of friends and family.   At home with my own extended family, it is good to see everyone, and have a bit of winter solstice indulgence.

As David Collum writes in his annual missive, this may have been the year that “everything changed.” The news continues to be strange, and our political and financial institutions are in rough shape.  Every year, one wonders, will this be the year that things go off the rails?  Will this be the year that starts our own World Made By Hand series?  Nobody knows for sure; prediction is always hard, especially about the future.

If there’s any common threads to these essays, it is to ask lots of questions, don’t bet on anything happening on any sort of predictable timeframe, and to be a bit more philosophical about this entire process of change that is happening before our eyes.   We’ll most likely keep writing bits and pieces, so long as the lights are on, and the Internet remains.

Good luck to all out there, who see the difficult future we’ll most likely be getting, and are trying to tell people that things may not go as smoothly as we were once promised.

Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.

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Doing good

1280px-StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_GoodShepherd_Portrait.jpg
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Shepherd#/media/File:StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_GoodShepherd_Portrait.jpg CC-BY SA

In spite of everything, there are some days when good things do turn up.   As much as some parts of the ‘net are incredible time sinks (and filled with trolls), there are non-saccharine situations and people that do exist.

Some of these folks are famous (Keanu Reeves), semi-famous (Chuck Feeny), and some are hardly famous at all (“Humans being bros“, on reddit.com).  The neat part about all of them is that they all share a common decency and humanity that sometimes feels like it is in very short supply these days.

The world is still off kilter, and things most likely won’t end well.  But when humans can be decent to each other (or “excellent to each other” as Keanu said ages ago), we can at the least face the music with some dignity.

Who else do you nominate as ‘people doing good’?   Is seeing this sort of stuff just a product of the holidays?   Might there be real, tangible benefits to focusing more on these stories, or at least showing more of them?   Or are these stories cheap ways of giving people false hope?   For every one of these heros, these examples of decency and charity, we might find five or ten people being inhumane, or perhaps even worse –  being indifferent.

 

 

 

 

Who got it right?

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Cartoon of the Devo Energy Dome, own work.

The science fiction genre does great work in trying to predict “what if” scenarios and situations, from Nineteen Eighty-Four, Blade Runner, Brave New World, to Black Mirror.    Even The Simpsons predicted President Trump.

Nobody gets things perfectly, of course.  We don’t have the ubiquitous flying cars, but most of us have supercomputers in our pockets, and incredible amounts of entertainment (distraction) and information at the touch of a button.  To decide what technologies are to be ascendant is a bit tricky.  Who gets the overall vibe, though?

This recent article by a member of Devo, a band formed in 1973, is an interesting commentary on someone who saw what our society might become.  “House band on the Titanic” is a neat self-description on who they are.

Who predicted our current mess of a “culture”?   What other films, music, or literature came closest to predicting where we’d be?

Devo hit the nail on the head with this bit of a lyric (Working In a Coal Mine):

Lord I am so tired
How long can this go on?

 

 

 

The greatest gift

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthrise#/media/File:NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise.jpg; Public Domain

The missive from last week contained a quote from the Dhammapada:

Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Nibbana is the greatest bliss.

After experiencing a few days of sickness, hearing of a friend’s parent passing after a long illness, and running into someone taking care of a parent who had been seriously injured, that quote certainly took on renewed meaning.

This quote doesn’t just apply to a single person.  We might wish to expand it to include our neighborhoods, town, province, country, and world.  In the largest case, the health of the world translates into a healthy environment.  Only when the air is unbreathable (Paradise, CA), the water undrinkable (Flint, MI), and the soil unfit for growing (1930’s Dust Bowl), does one really realize how important health and vitality of an ecosystem is to your own personal life.

When we get sick, either through environmental factors, or by poor judgement (as many a young adult has said, the morning after an eventful night of carousing and indulging, “I’ll never drink again!”), we do seem to forget.  Why is this?  When you get sick, or when your air no longer becomes breathable, your generally react strongly – “This?  This?!  This is unacceptable!  This is intolerable!  Never again! Never again!”  But next week, next month… people are at it again, repeating their behaviors.

When you are young,  you heal more easily, and perhaps, forget more quickly.   But as you get older, you remember that healing takes a long time, and that those accumulated scars bring some wisdom.  But another question rises up – some older people care more as they get older, and some less.  For some, they realize that what they are leaving to the younger generations isn’t fair, and act accordingly.  For others, they say, “I won’t be here when it happens,” and blithely move along.  How do these worldviews arise?  Some children of rich parents are spoiled; some are hard workers – how does this discrepancy arise?  What sort of ecological upbringing could we do to make people more aware of our greatest gift (a healthy environment)?

As always, more questions than answers.