First my thoughts and hopes go out to the victims of this cowardly, reprehensible action.
To those who committed it, to those who enabled it, to those like our Resident in Chief who are making excuses for it… you are as guilty as the ones who pulled the trigger.
See, this blind yet supportive eye our resident in chief (and too many who voted for him) would turn toward intolerance, and step to power on the backs of stupidity, ignorance, greed and hate… this is the outcome of such a policy of hate. This is your ‘wall’ made manifest.
And in an increasingly connected global economy and global thought space, stupidity spreads. Especially when supported by fools in power.
America, has shown the world how to do mass murders of its own citizens by its own citizens, a genocidal and suicidal nation, that is infecting the rest of the world. The lack of laws to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the deranged, and the addled, and the damned. A lack of laws to hold the firearm manufacturers and the estate of the culprit fiscally responsible for the lives and bodies destroyed, by a wanton act of cowardice.
America, steered by madmen, shows the rest of the world how to go mad.
The answer to blood?
The answer to horror?
The answer to deranged madmen calling for insane walls rather than real gun control?
The answer to too many of you who actually voted for such lunacy?
The answer is simple.
The answer is to admit you have been wrong.
Wrong as an American, or a Brit, or a New Zealander or a South African.
Wrong as a Democrat.
Wrong as a Republican.
Wrong as someone who believes in hate.
Wrong as someone who believes in love.
Wrong as a Christian.
Wrong as a Muslim.
Wrong as a Jew.
Wrong as a Buddhist.
Wrong as a Nazi.
You have to question everything you believe is right, and everything you believe is wrong, and only then can you see clearly.
Because a fool and a zealot do not question.
And we live in a world of fools and zealots, who do not challenge the absolute good and the absolute evil they have mistaken for the world.
Monologues, Alan Moore said.
Monologues we have mistaken for the world.
A man walked into a holy place, and destroyed lives, for a monologue he had mistaken for the world.
For a fiction, a fabrication, that with but a moments thought to question, the absolutes of his insane plan, people dead would now be alive, and families broken would be whole.
We all want to be on the side of the angels.
Whatever angels we bend our knee to.
But the magic of the world, is it is constantly changing. And every day, every single day, we have to get up, and ask ourselves, are we good men, or bad ones. And every single day, the answer to that question, should be in doubt.
We should never wake up assuming we are on the side of the angels. Because that is the quickest way… to do the devils work.
The man who walked into that Mosque in New Zealand was absolute in his conviction, and that is what damned him. And that is what will damn us all.
Absolutes whether the quest for a wall, or the quest for lives, absolutes… fail. They fail, especially when the price is paid not by you, but by some one else.
I end where I begin.
My thoughts go out to the victims of the latest man, the latest system, of absolutes. You want to really make a difference, really stop these massacres? This is what you do.
If you are a staunch supporter of NRA, question it. If you are a staunch opponent of NRA, question it. Question your absolutes, honestly, because I believe reason, all effing evidence to the contrary, I believe reason ultimately wins.
I believe a man on a path of hate or a man on a path of love, can be the same horrible man, for lack of questioning.
The humility of doubt can save their souls. Can define their souls. Accepting nothing as absolute.
Wake up every morning asking yourself if you are a good person or a bad one, and answering it honestly. And that is how you stay out of… true evil. Avoiding Absolutism.
I’m not preaching anything to you, that I don’t do myself.
Everyday I wake up, I ask myself if I am a good man or a bad one, and the act of questioning, and the striving to be a better man, is a great way to stop from, gleefully, being… the worst of men.
That’s all I have right now.
It’s funny that the best analysis of America you won’t find on Fox or Abc or CNN, you will find on an interview show. Marc Maron’s preamble to this August episode on the sound of an Authoritarian America… must listen.
Here’s the website:
And here’s the link to the show:
These are a few of my favorite things.
–Julie Andrews, THE SOUND OF MUSIC
As we get older, and see more revolutions of our world around our sun, hopefully we get wiser, and have from our experiences some wisdom to impart to those coming after us. Or wisdom that we wish someone had imparted to us.
Here is some of the wisdom I have gained, in terms of things you can actually purchase. Some our mundane and simplistic and frivolous, some in their simplicity were life changing and life improving.
I leave it for you to decide which is which.
Here then in the 31st Week, and Two Thousand and Sixteenth Year of a vaunted Lord, are a few of my favorite things:
Let’s start off with music….
SONS OF SERENDIP is the self titled first album by a 4 part band, that was one of the few reasons I actually sat through a season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT (Season 9, for those of you playing at home). Their sound is nothing short of awe inspiring.
The CD goes in and out of print, I have multiple copies, and it has become one of my go to gifts to give friends and family and as stocking stuffers.
Speaking of music, this year my better half and I spent Valentine’s Day in New York. We were primarily there because I had gotten tickets to hear Grammy winning Gregory Porter play at the legendary and venerable TOWN HALL (built by Suffragites seeking the vote). His Grammy Winning album LIQUID SPIRIT is one of my favorite albums of all time, and I’m pleased to say in-person, backed by his fantastic band, and the energy of a fun crowd, he is even better. Fantastic performance and a fun experience.
Get the album here…
Now leaving the pleasures of hearing for a second, let’s discuss taste…
THE ZERO WATER 10 CUP PITCHER – I have found to be, after much searching, the ideal affordable water purification system to implement. Its design eliminates the ‘flow-around’ concern of traditional faucet mounted systems such as PUR or BRITA, in addition providing an easy built in test of the filters effectiveness that the consumer can easily periodically try. Also the size of this particular 10 cup pitcher makes it ideal for placement in the refrigerator, as opposed to the more space consuming 23 cup variety. However Amazon reviewer JLJ (his review is one of the first ones that will pop-up when you use my links below) offers excellent advice for using both pitchers in concert to extend the life of the filters by up to 5 times. A pretty cool idea I plan to try.
Chief complaints with this pitcher seem to be by people who leave it on their counter rather than refrigerating it. Room temperature water seems silly, so mine is always refrigerated. And every 2 months it is washed out with a water vinegar solution. I’ve had no issues.
Now this one, is not rated to remove fluoride, which is something I would like a filter to remove. But aside from a much more expensive distiller I haven’t yet found a pitcher variety that is proven to remove fluoride. Though I’m still on the hunt, and when I find one, I’ll use it as the prefilter stage, before going into the ZeroWater filter. In fact Invigorated Life has a pitcher that is rated to remove fluoride and is currently on-sale at Amazon (link below) so I plan to order that and try JLJ’s pre-filter idea using that and my Zero-Filter pitcher.
But for right now I’m quite happy with the quality of water I’ve been getting out of Zero-Water, as opposed to my forays with Pur, Brita, American Distillers, and Aquasana.
It’s affordable and makes it easy for the consumer to test.
Invigorated Living Alkaline Water Pitcher Ionizer, 2 Long-Life Filters Included, 118 Ounces, 3.5 litres, Alkaline Filtered Water Purifier Machine, High pH Natural Filtration System, Removes Toxins, Chlorine, Enhances Immunity & Optimizes Health (Blue)
I don’t have cable. Have not had cable bill for over a decade. I was a cord cutter before that term was even coined. Before streaming I was content with over the air TV and DVDs.
Now with streaming I’ve reduced my DVD forays a bit, as well as consuming shows via over the air TV (though my digital antennae remains an always ready and appreciated backup).
Roku, my Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, and my Digital Antennae… allow me to have TV… on my schedule, my way, while still combined being a fraction of a cable bill, while offering to my mind much more diverse and enjoyable content.
As far as Roku, I would recommend avoiding the Roku Stick as that uses WiFi Direct, to communicate with your remote. At least using Roku 3 you can disable WiFi Direct and use a simple IR remote. WiFi Direct creates a piggybacking, potentially insecure network, on top of your existing wi-fi network, which is a totally unnecessary use of bandwidth. I would also avoid using any of the remotes that come with a mic built in. It’s just a privacy nightmare waiting to happen.
Here’s a suitable, simple IR replacement remote:
And leaving the joys of viewing for a second to get back to taste…
Since eliminating sugar from my diet, to include fruit juices (yes that means no orange or cranberry or apple juice) and reducing my daily intake of carbs to under a 100 grams (cutting out most breads, rice, pastas, processed and sugary foods), I feel so much better.
Which I understand is an over-used refrain, but it happens to in my case be true.
And weight gain, or more specifically fat gain, which in a really simple fashion is unused carbohydrates/sugar metabolizing into fat, that process is hampered, as your body is weaned of the excesses that go to fat. In a couple months of a low carb diet, I have begun losing weight even without the benefit of an exercise routine. Once I get back into the gym routine I fully expect the changes to be even more impressive.
So yeah I wish I knew decades ago, what I know now, that excess sugar and carbs, are not your friend.
In addition to water, one of my main drinks these days is unsweetened tea. A concept that only a few short months ago I considered wholly unpalatable. But while most sugar substitutes (malitol, sorbitol, isomalt, even xylitol) are problematic in their own right, there are a couple substitutes whose benefits outweigh their potential drawbacks. Stevia, a plan based sweetener that is one of those that is firing on all cylinders and really changing the game for those who want to avoid sugars corroding effects while still getting sweetness with their drinks.
Since using it in conjunction with unsweetened tea 1/I’m spending a ton less on flavored drinks and 2/ sugary drinks are one of the main ways you overdo it on carbs, so it greatly helps me stay under my 100 carb a day limit.
So a win/win.
Try it for yourself here:
And I want to wrap up this installment with a few books that I was very happy to have, or add new copies of, in my collection in 2016:
Long before most people had heard the name Zdzislaw Beksinski, I was singing his praises. I still am. If you own only one artbook, make it this one.
Another artist that relatively no one has heard of is Phil Kutno. I discovered his stunning pencil work in 2015, and purchased four of his prints, and there hasn’t been a day in 2016 where I haven’t spent time admiring and soaking up those prints. Unfortunately he does not have an art book or any prints available via Amazon. (I’ve been trying to talk him into doing like a Director’s Commentary on one of his prints for the blog… still trying to make it happen :))
In the interim you can get prints direct from him here:
Another artist whose work had an astonishing and visceral effect on me was Graham Foster. In 2014 while in Bermuda I had the chance to see the mural he did for the Commissioner’s House (which is the house overlooking the beautiful port of Bermuda, a wonderful architectural structure, it is history in Masonry and beam and floor, the remnants of a colonial age, now dimmed) up close and in person. It is spread over multiple floors and is the history of Bermuda told in verdant hues.
Even while walking up and down the steps to view this mammoth under taking, I was thinking…. ‘this needs to be in a book’. There was no way to consume what took him years to paint, in a quick tour of that historic house. Thankfully the artist collaborated with a writer, and made this massive mural, into a massive and informative book. I think it is one of the most essential art and history books of its kind.
And for the longest time upon returning to the states the book was not available anywhere. So nowadays whenever I come across a copy I buy it, as I like to give them out as presents when available, as well as having multiples in my own collection.
You can grab it for yourself while supplies last… here:
There are of course more of my favorite things to present, but that’s enough for this installment. Thanks for looking, and I hope I’ve helped to introduce you to your next…. favorite thing! 🙂
However other things grab my interest. Other things that perhaps transcend caring what group of modern gladiators, beat another group of modern gladiators.
This weekend, according to the AP, Chris Kyle, ex-Navy Seal Sniper and author of the 2012 best-selling AMERICAN SNIPER was killed along with another veteran Chad Littlefield in a shooting at the gun range at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Glen Rose, Texas. Killed by another former veteran.
The details and the reasons are still sketchy, but aren’t they always. What is known is this is the latest in what is seemingly an endless parade of American mass-murders.
And reading the coverage of this latest violence, something of interest struck me in the coverage.
The CNN coverage states:
“[Chris] Kyle learned to shoot on hunting trips with his father, then went on to serve four combat tours in Iraq with the SEALS, though his official biography notes he also worked with Army and Marine units. He received two Silver Stars and other commendations before leaving the Navy in 2009 — claiming that, in his years as a sniper, he’d killed more than 150 people, which he called a record for an American.”
“The first time, you’re not even sure you can do it,” he [Chris Kyle] said in the interview. “But I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe. Every time I kill someone, he can’t plant an (improvised explosive device). You don’t think twice about it.”
“In a statement, the [Fitco Cares]foundation described Kyle as an “American hero” and pledged to carry on his mission.”
And maybe it’s that simple.
Maybe from Sergeant York to Audie Murphy to today’s efficient killers, maybe it has become the American pastime to define as hero the indiscriminate taking of lives. While we live in a world where the pursuit of life, is often dependent on those adept at death, perhaps what is increasingly lost in the American mindset today… is the sense of that act as an evil, perhaps a necessary evil, but an evil none the less.
Perhaps the American media’s glorification of men of war at the expense of men of peace, seeps into the American zeitgeist, the American Soul if you will, and America’s export of indiscriminate horror and blood abroad, returns to us at home.
From Columbine to Aurora to Sandy Hook, perhaps these uniquely American Massacres are part and parcel of the increasing unrepentant and murderous definition of American Heroes.
We glorify the wrong things in our Soldiers, and by so doing glorify the wrong things in ourselves. They are heroes because they are willing to sacrifice, not because they are willing to kill. They and we are victims, when we have to kill. When the killing is all we have left. And worse when the act of that killing ceases to have meaning.
Chickens coming home to roost. By its fruit will you know a tree.
A soldier and a warrior died this weekend and that is a tragedy. But it is only a tragedy if the loss of the 150 lives he took, is also a tragedy.
Like any soldier, like every soldier; either every life has value or no life has value. That is the lesson of America and the world in the 21st century. The more easily we justify killing the other, the more valueless we make their lives, the more valueless we make our own.
That’s the lesson I learned today, while all of Rome was watching the Gladiators in the Coliseum,
Somehow I think… a lesson of value.
However, like too many re-imaginings of America’s independence from Britain it kinda leaves out the fact that losing the colony was the cost Britain paid for fighting a multi-pronged war with France at the time. Without France lending support, and keeping the sea supremacy of Britain embroiled on other fronts, it is staggeringly unlikely the fledgling colony would have won her war of Independence.
And it also overplays George Washington’s hand in the victory. One of the greatest warriors of the Revolutionary War, whose decisive victories and battle strategies rewrote at the time, modern combat, and swung the tide of battle was not George Washington, it was the man we have since relegated and derided as a traitor… It was Benedict Arnold.
One of the greatest warriors this nation has ever produced.
Still the above quick link is worth a read.
WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.
Fodor’s U.S. & British Virgin Islands (Full-color Travel Guide) [Paperback]
• Make your trip to U.S. & British Virgin Islands unforgettable with illustrated features, 22 maps, and 125 color photos.
Customize your trip with simple planning tools
• Top experiences & attractions
• Island comparison charts
• Easy-to-read color maps
Explore the St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, and beyond
• Discerning Fodor’s Choice picks for hotels, restaurants, sights, and more
• “Word of Mouth” tips from fellow Fodor’s travelers
• Illustrated features on Diving and Chartering a Yacht
• Best beachcombing, day sails, and shopping opportunities
Opinions from destination experts
• Fodor’s Virgin Islands-based writers reveal their favorite local haunts
Fodor’s U.S. & British Virgin Islands (Full-color Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands (Multi Country Travel Guide) [Paperback]
Ryan Ver Berkmoes (Author), Kevin Raub (Author)
Publication Date: December 1, 2011 | Series: Multi Country Travel Guide
“With amazing culture, beaches, activities and weather – not to mention the rum – the Caribbean is a joyous riot of islands offering the ultimate escape.” – Ryan Ver Berkmoes, Lonely Planet WriterOur PromiseYou can trust our travel information because Lonely Planet authors visit the places we write about, each and every edition. We never accept freebies for positive coverage, and you can rely on us to tell it like we see it.Inside This Book…65 islands covered13 expert authors500 days (and nights) of research874 gorgeous beachesInspirational photosClear, easy-to-use mapsCruising featureIn-depth backgroundComprehensive planning toolsEasy-to-read layout
Lonely Planet Caribbean Islands (Multi Country Travel Guide)
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
The definitive guide for anyone dreaming of a move to paradise.
Whether motivated by a desire for adventure, or the need to make the most of a diminished nest egg, more and more Americans are considering an overseas retirement. Drawing on her more than three decades of experience helping people relocate happily and successfully, Kathleen Peddicord shows how living in an unconventional retirement destination can cost less than a traditional home in Florida or Arizona. Peddicord addresses all of the essential issues, including:
? Health Care
? Bank Accounts
Whether readers are interested in relatively unknown havens like Nicaragua, well-traveled areas in Italy, or need some help deciding, How to Retire Overseas is the ultimate guide to making retirement dreams come true.
The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!
If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.
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