vendredi 1 avril 2005
Bread and circuses were nothing to this!
It's become so sickening a spectacle that Anouk, close to the top of the 'VoW', was just the total brainwash job required the instant I was out of there, leaving others to inane racket pouring out of the telly.
Somebody ticked me off for the length and distraction of my phone calls to Africa, which is fair enough when sometimes I overdo it, but understood my own earlier plea: "If we don't need that, can we please have the sound off?"
Not with Anouk, though. No iTMS? Amazon France puts her at 25 euros ... or less. What price a voice after a day of death rattle? What a relief.
"Obscene" is a word you'll see here rarely, but today's return of the "What do we say to go with the pictures?" gabblers and cameras to the Vatican and the long, long death of an old man meets two of the online Webster's definitions: "d: so excessive as to be offensive" and "c: repulsive by reason of crass disregard of moral or ethical principles."
I'd have pulled the plugs on papal life support weeks ago without compunction, perfectly aware of the "high moral issues" involved. A Latin American journalist said during a smoke break: "If he wants to show Christian charity, scarcely characteristic of most of his time in the job, he might at least hold off until Monday now, rather than screw up another weekend."
No, it wasn't charitable of her, but neither's the news. Others said "The sooner, the better." For all concerned. I asked one lot in Africa how they knew, as one story begun, "Roman Catholics across Africa were praying Friday for the health of Pope John Paul II..."
"Because a cardinal said so: it's in the quote." No doubt.
Compassion comes hard when this authoritarian pontiff has insisted on iron rules that have caused so much suffering, HIV-AIDs just a part of it, and any part of my heart that once thought "Just put an end to the man's own suffering" feels very hard tonight about a powerful, wealthy, historically ruthless religion when it perpetuates pain as the "will of God" for humanity.
The prolongation of life by 21st century medicine, combined with the Church's determination that its "God's will be done" turns my stomach, along with the chance that the next pope may well be an African, Cardinal Francis Arinze, portrayed at USAfricaonline.
What Nigerian Chido Nwangwu, admiring his "unique and distinctly cerebral" compatriot in 1999, then had no reason to tell us is that should white smoke go up for a black pope, this one has a hard line to walk regarding his "domestic audience".
Arinze's caught between extreme Islamic zealots in the north and rigidly right-wing Bible bashers down south, which could mean precisely that: a hardliner in Rome, which is bad news for developing countries already up against the daily hypocrisy of politicians and bankers in our own industrialised world.
"Not a good day," one journalist in Africa told me after a bout of visa problems in his office and a press briefing missed because of a crazy traffic jam.
"Not one here either," I replied. "Same story all over."
Anouk (home page)?
She's Dutch, she's got soul, she's got lyrics that tease and talk to me far more directly than your average priest, she's got a new album out, 'Hotel New York,' and she gets better with every gutsy CD.
The title track of 'Together Alone' was exactly what my neuron needed, off to a quiet and lyrical start, a feather duster for frayed nerves, before her superb band kicks in suddenly with the kind of mind-blasting noise I've come to enjoy since the Kid first led me quite a while ago to the heavy metal shelves at Virgin and brought me up to date on what's good, really good.
She'll like Anouk, who'll get more of a write-up as the 'VoW' project develops, since the woman's another of the multiform artists I won't pin a label on (others just say "rock"), and into a wide range of styles. All done well. And we're only into the 'A's.
Anouk is quite famous. Not so -- yet -- Aino Laos, another try before you buy at the iTMS, at least in France, now they're adventurous.
Try Amazon and at present you'll be wasting your time, but CD Baby introduces her 'Harvest Moon'.
"Mesmerising," yes, "alternative," yes, "new age," maybe. Define "grunge" for me, thanks Wikipedia, and I'll tell you Aino throws in a dose of that sometimes.
It's good for the system.
The Vatican's a system gone bad, but the right stuff in the ears clears the reek up the nostrils.
11:00:45 PM link
This means her fans won't be hearing more adventures of one of my sanity's daily guardians, the husky-voiced, foul-mouthed, smartly funny Lauren for a while, since she leaves at 3:00 am on holiday. It's high time Bernie had her to himself for some weeks.
For roughly a month (or a rough month):
WEST AFRICA CORRESPONDENT
Multiple languages, incl. French and Filth, essential.
Regional knowledge: all the dirt.
Working hours: till you almost drop.
Diplomatic skills: useful.
Dakar-based, willingness to travel and report swiftly and accurately: indispensable.
Pay: zero (non-negotiable)."
The well-deserved break for a soul always ready to go the extra mile means I've begun already to redistribute the daily workload among the Factory's Africa hands to suit where possible, since when one of the regional pros quits for a while they're not replaced.
The hardest thing to replace, even if feasible and considered cost-effective by the paymasters, is always the humour, along with an idea or two best planted out back to take seed. So I have, beginning with utter idiots in the office and a cyberspatial first of the month kiss for a fly-baby.
Fancy a bit more 'fooling around?' Join the nymphs in our orchard [eventide edit: with apologies to anybody stuck with a triple post for much of a day, as I grow used to my own new arrangements].
You get to meet Peter and Becky.
And I get to sleep on who gets the non-virtual kiss of the day. Can I make it speechless past all women till Emma?
2:00:09 AM link
"Idiots in the office are just as hazardous to your health as cigarettes, caffeine or greasy food, an eye-opening new study reveals.
In fact, those dopes can kill you! (...)
These truths were brought to my multiple-compartment attention by Peter the Great, in a photocopy of a newspaper article.
'You can cut back on smoking or improve your diet,' Dr [Dagmar] Andersson [of Sweden's Lindbergh University Medical Center] says, 'but most people have very poor coping skills when it comes to stupidity -- they feel there's nothing they can do about it, so they just internalize their frustration until they finally explode.'
Stupid co-workers can also double or triple someone's work load, she explains."
Peter often comes up with stuff worth sharing with my most persistent kind of visitor, but he's no regular blog-reader and may thus learn with me that it's a Nov 21, 2002 story by Kate McClare, picked up ages ago by 'iWork with Fools', where sadly most people feel a need to hide their names.
Since there's one born every minute, the occasional reminder of such scientific investigations into what most of us already know is useful.
'iWorkwithFools' is open to all sufferers. This place remains reserved for the trials and tribulations of my friends and colleagues in need of an outlet for complaints and the rare exclamations of joy and ecstacy that don't fit into the System, as long as they keep the right side of the law and relate to lives as most people have them.
The fact that Sweden's Lindbergh University Medical Center doesn't exist is immaterial, since this is early April 1, when I'll later be busy making sure nobody tries to slip a fast one past my editorial eye. There's always someone ready to have a go, disobeying a diktat which wasn't of my making but AFP rules.
Soon winging her way out of Africa for a while, Lauren won't be among them and I'll cheerfully follow her pre-flight advice to stay the right side of stupid as well, when she learned that the bank tonight sent me a secret code to go with the new functioning card. Indeed, what I've done, now being serious in intent regarding both the LP and the VOW project, is to set myself a monthly budget allowance for these non-profit initiatives: cash others would put aside for vacations or their cars.
Since once this log took the loyal with me on a sometime arduous and serious journey into the understanding and healing of fragmented identity and neuro-chemical disorders, I'll still keep you abreast sometimes of how it can be for others faced with such problems and who find the courage to confront them openly.
Last November, for example, Becky, a brave young Indiana Gemini, found relief in saying "my conclusion of the day is that if you are feeling fat and stupid, maybe it's not just low self-esteem talking."
No. It isn't. Nor will I detail the "synch story" of my day about a bright French journalist explaining how her mother met her at an airport after six months' separation with the greeting: "O Lord! What have you done to yourself?" The answer lay in Beirut mezzes by the forklift truck-load followed by a New York stint and hamburger lunches.
She's dealt with it. So have I. We both got the help needed. And we've tightened our belts. But Becky's 'tidal moods' led her, to a multi-authored research report on 'Depression and Obesity: A Complex Relationship' (Psychiatric Times, Oct 2004) which isn't beyond the grasp of the lay reader.
Her dormant site has a blogroll with a more comprehensive list of good links than you'll find left in my own, while young Becky's moved on to voice the kind of anti-established ideas I've come to expect from any good QR:
"Being gay or engaging in homosexual activity is not disordered. It's simply ordered differently from the mainstream. There's nothing unnatural about gay partnership. For centuries, gays have raised children and formed communities of acceptance.
And for centuries, the church has maligned these people. And despite the 'oh we love everyone' tone of [some Roman Catholic clerical garbage], it's clear that the author actually does have a bias against gays. His sources are unacceptably out-of-date and obviously picked to support a prejudicial point that simply is no longer true.
I just cannot support this. It's wrong. I know it in some part of me that exists before thinking and sentience and all that goo" ('The Valkyrie of Discarded Thought').
"valkryie" is the user name of the part of this Mac of mine set aside for friends to do what they like on. And the back garden of this log is -- as now you now -- for explorations of people's parts that existed "before thinking and sentience and all that goo".
I've almost no patience left for idiots, but lots for some "fools".
So did 15th century-born theologian Erasmus, who chose to be "unhindered by country, academic ties, religious allegiance and anything else that might interfere with his freedom of intellect and literary expression" (Wikipedia).
In 1509, he decided to give Thomas More's neuron a rest and some fun with a few well-aimed blows at received ideas of his day by writing 'Praise of Folly' and then telling Sir Tom ('stupidity.com').
The problem was, if you to take a look, Erasmus began as a pre-telly Rotterdam stand-up comedian who found
"it only takes the mere sight of me to give you all a different look. For great orators must as a rule spend time preparing long speeches and even then find it difficult to succeed in banishing care and trouble from your minds, but I've done this at once and simply by my looks."
By the time he was through -- 'stupidity' uses a translation by Betty Radice -- he'd taken himself to bits and left some of his audience, admiring and bewildered by turns, and even 21st-century QRs with a piece of satire which is pompous, sometimes, but useful.
Times were that an April Fool's Day celebration might have led me to an exploration of the art of stupidity, but that site does a pretty good job of it. Worse still, there's a "psychology of stupidity", which is a potting ground among scientists who reckon they're not and are smart enough -- as in 'Protective Stupidity' by the Rev Dr Michael Ellner -- to tackle a "Big Lie" with worse whoppers of their own, as on HIV-AIDS, which become clear for what they are only if you care to stick a curious nose, like my favourite journalist friends, where it's not wanted: behind the scenes.
Because that's where you find that an edifice of Big Ideas is built on very dodgy foundations.
With a bit of help, truly common sense and a readiness to follow our intuitions -- that gut sense of the right thing to do I find is an innate survival mechanism most people I talk to about such stuff seem to have, but few dare to follow as often they should because of pressure from family, friends or alleged superiors and sets of often self-imposed rules which also become senseless on closer inspection -- you end up, like Erasmus, somewhere far more interesting.
All the science is fine, even great fun if you're into that kind of thing, but my most recommended link of the day is the work of a woman who's decided to compile a journal on 'Scrapping the Difficult Times' and much more.
"There are people who feel that the less said the better and that bad things are best forgotten. While others feel that everything needs to be out in the open to promote healing," Denny observes on a page headed with a wise epigram: "Those who judge, don't matter ... those who matter, don't judge."
Except, maybe themselves. Like me, she's simply made a choice.
Denny (home) is as pragmatically prolific as Mrs Beeton was in her day about much more than good cooking. She's also far politer than me, but often funny and reminds us that "just because something is amusing doesn't mean there isn't some truth to it".
Unless you want to wind up days full of angry stress at stupidity, both your own and other people's, the truth is worse. The people who don't like Heavy Stuff have taught me that just because something is serious doesn't mean there isn't a lot of humour to it.
Erasmus stuck a huge nose in the mirror, saw an ugly old wretch, and put paid to him in 'Praise of Folly'. I'm much better looking than Erasmus, and not stuck with a church which tries to park its rules between me and, for instance, women who share that view.
That's cool. The sap's rising. What's cooler still is that praising folly -- rather than the stupidity that kills -- is an open invitation to my favourite non-martial art.
If you can't beat the system, try to be non-violent and see no point in fighting it because that usually makes it even more stupid and mad, then you're talking (yes, you've got it): subversion.
1:37:43 AM link
nick b. 2007 do share, don't steal, please credit
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