An opportunity for nostalgia.

Waiting in the hospital this morning surrounded by shuffling geriatrics, I was reminded of this sentiment from Stephen Fry’s ‘Liar’, which I recently re-read:-

As Adrian hurried past the Senate House he noticed two old men standing outside Bowes and Bowes. He put an extra spring in his step, a thing he often did when walking near the elderly. He imagined old people would look at his athletic bounce with a misty longing for their own youth. Not that he was trying to show off or rub salt into the wounds of the infirm, he really believed he was offering a service, an opportunity for nostalgia, like whistling the theme tune from Happidrome or spinning a Diabolo.

He skipped past them with carefree ease, missed his footing and fell to the ground with a thump. One of the old men helped him up.

“You all right, lad?”

“Yes fine … I must have slipped on the ice.”

Fifa 14 or Call of Duty

Michael Calvin had this to say in the Independent On Sunday:-

“No one batted an eyelid on Friday night when, during the paternalistic burbling that passes as a Fifa presidential address, Sepp Blatter called for a suspension of global armed activity* for the duration of a tournament in which 157,000 soldiers and FBI-trained riot police have been ordered to keep the peace.
They will be supported by Israeli-supplied drones, 48 aircraft, 20 warships and 60 fast-response vessels such as speed boats. Twelve military command centres have been set up across the country and 36 ground-to-air missile batteries, purchased from the German army, have been deployed. Fifa 14 has become a real-time version of Call of Duty

*Sepp Blatter said:- “During 32 days, the world actuality (news) will be with football and I hope during this time all belligerent activities in the different corners of the world shall stop and then I would say King Football shall reign” Reuters link

A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Maya Angelou (4 April 1928 – 28 May 2014)

Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

I love this summation by the author:

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future. But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason permits us to discover it; and I have given the evidence to the best of my ability. We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system – with all these exalted powers – Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

I think we can guess the author of these lines.

Thanks to http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/darwinselection.html

Who cares anymore?

If 2013 was the year of coming out, let’s make 2014 the year we just are. When being gay stops being front-page and starts being “so-what?”.

I read these sentences in the Sunday Times editorial by Katie Glass on the 2nd of February

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Regulars/article1366055.ece

and found myself agreeing with her. She talks of the ‘celebrigay’ smashing the ‘glass closets’ as feeling very old-fashioned.

Some more quotes:

…the most powerful thing we can offer young people isn’t gay role models but role models who are gay.

…I want who I’m sleeping with to be the least interesting thing about me there is.

p.s. Although there is perhaps some case to be made for ‘celebrigays’ making it easier for people in still-homophobic societies/occupations.

LOTR: A conversation.

1: Hey guys, we’ve got this epic quest ahead of us.

2: Yeah, better start packing, it’ll be a long walk.

1: Walk? Can’t we just call the eagles and get it boxed off this afternoon, like, pronto?

2: Nah, we’ll walk.

1: You DO know if we walk there’ll be mountains to climb, rivers to cross, forests to brave, caves to dare.. not the mention the Trolls, and Black Riders, and Goblins, and Orcs, and Goblins, and Uruk-Hai, and Stone Giants, and Wargs, and Crebain, and Mamukil, and Azog, and Bolg, and the Balrog, and Shelob, and Morgoth, and the Witch-King, and Nazgul, and Khamul, and Gothmog, and Ungoliant….
Let’s just call the eagles, hey?

2: Nah, we’ll walk.

Book queue

I’m loving Wool by Howey, Hugh at the moment, 400 more pages to go and then these are the books I have acquired that are lying about waiting to be read:

  1. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Hadfield, Chris.
  2. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Joyce, Rachel.
  3. The Particle at the End of the Universe by Carroll, Sean.
  4. The Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable by Taleb, Nassim Nicholas.
  5. Philosophy: The Classics by Warburton, Nigel.
  6. Another Bloody Love Letter by Loyd, Anthony.
  7. Harvest of Time by Reynolds, Alastair.
  8. Grammar for Grown-ups by Fry, Katharine & Kirton, Rowena.
  9. The Inside Track: Paddocks, pit stops and tales of life in the fast lane by Humphrey, Jake.

Breaking Bad – haiku

Crystal blue chemistry-
A lesson in ethics
Better call Saul

I have a dream

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

*thanks to http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm for the transcribed text

My next residence.

I think I’d rather like living in an Old People’s Home.

I’d really enjoy being sat in front of the telly with my legs up, all warmly wrapped in a blanket and left alone in the corner to shout at the telly.

And I’d be bloody good at it!

People would come and go, administers would administer to me. Nurses would nurse, cleaners would clean, visitors would visit, patients would paish… but nobody would interrupt me, oh no. No no no. Because they would all know what happened the last time someone disturbed me!

I reckon I’d be called ‘Sniper’, because of the way I’d cheat at Monopoly and Risk. Or maybe ‘The Balanced One'; not because I’d kept all my marbles (that may well not be the case) but because of the way I’d carry exactly balanced change in my left and right pockets.

Or maybe just ‘Squelch’.. and newbies would ask “Why is he called that?” and someone would say “Sshhhh!! There’s a story behind that son…. but do you have the stomach for it? DO YOU HAVE THE STOMACH FOR IT??” and just leave it there.

I’d be on the very latest experimental drugs, just like everyone in the ’60s…

Am I old enough to go there now?

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