Saturday, 27 February 2010

Addiction?



The modem has been down at home for a few days. Our supplier figured it was a cable problem as a few houses in our area were having trouble. It came back and then disappeared again. We called our supplier (dealer?) and they reckoned it was our modem that was down. This being Friday they could not get a guy out to us before Monday. This morning the modem was flashing away and we had connection!
It is horribly shocking as to how much I missed that connection!
The ability to "connect" with friends and the world of cyber contacts had been ripped away from me. 10 years ago this would not have been an issue. Today the idea of being off-line for a matter of hours becomes a drama. What have I missed in that time? What has been so important that it could not wait for a few days. The truthful answer is exactly nothing. However it has been a disturbing time, a realization that there is a feeling of addictiveness towards being connected.
I have no plans of going into rehab to solve the problem. The plan is to get my phone to function as a standby. If that will not work then the next step is to get a mobile connection. There is no way I am willing to step back from being connected. It is an addiction and maybe in time it will soften and change.
At this stage in my life I am not going to retire to a cave and get it on with myself. No, I am going to chat and lark about, dart from one "important" site to the next. Googling my way through the challenges that life presents.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Obama and the Lama


There must be a good rap in the title!

President Obama, leader of the richest nation in the world meets with the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of a nation that has been occupied for 60 years.

The President has taken over a nation in a state of ruin, spoiled by greed and lack of ethics. He is given, and takes the opportunity to meet and talk with the Dalai Lama. A man who has held his own against a constant barrage of misinformation by the Chinese government. A man who can offer an alternative to values we hold dear in life.

America has set its sights on becoming the richest and most powerful nation in history. That goal has been achieved and there are few who will deny it. Being rich and powerful is not always the answer as has also been shown. Many Americans feel empty and lost, nervous of failure. If you do not have a great income and a guaranteed pension and health care plan there is a feeling of dread that it will all slip away. This fear has been clearly demonstrated during the last years as the American economy has imploded leaving many families homeless and jobless, relying on a state that has spent the last many years withdrawing from any need to support the weaker groups in society.

I doubt whether President Obama is expecting any help from the Dalai Lama, though a seed may be sown as to another viewpoint. What the President is doing is giving his time to a man who has called for dialogue and peaceful co-existence for many years. The Dalai Lama has maintained his spiritual view of how to handle the Chinese government and their rather fearful insistence of denying that the Dalai Lama has any rights to speak for his people who have suffered terribly under the Chinese regime.

The Chinese government has moved in the period the Dalai Lama has been in exile from an extreme communist state with a fierce grip on its people. To now one of the strongest and fastest growing economies in the world. The government of China is still purportedly a communist controlled state though now with a large number of entrepreneurs making huge fortunes. The state maintains its tight control on its people. A government run by men with the right answers and opinions!

That the Dalai Lama has kept smiling, has never resorted to violence in word or deed is a remarkable achievement. It is time that the Chinese government gave space to other ideas and lost their fear of change. They have a nation that is powerful and safe, a nation with one of the longest cultural histories, a nation that we would all like to honour and respect. Time for a little largess?

Monday, 15 February 2010

The search for happiness


The world's oldest Sunday paper relaunches this week, it will aim to build on a heritage founded on the age of reason.

John Muholland is the editor of the Observer

"The Observer's mission statement from its inception in 1791 reads: "Unbiased by prejudice – uninfluenced by party. Whole principle is ­independence, whole object is truth, and the dissemination of every species of knowledge that may conduce to the happiness of society."

The Observer was born during the age of enlightenment, as a new set of values emerged at the core of western societies – freedom, democracy and reason. Rationality replaced dogma, science trumped conjecture, empiricism bested speculation. Even more importantly for the Observer, the idea of liberalism – the ventilation of diverse opinions and a tolerance of same – took root at this time.

The world has changed, as has the Observer, but these beliefs are still at the centre of the paper.

The Observer remains an independent voice and one that is committed to liberal and social democratic values. We're committed to other issues too. We like fashion and food and football, for instance, but what distinguishes the Observer are its values. These are the philosophical scaffolds holding the paper in place, which help create a ­distinctive (not better, or worse, but different) voice on a Sunday and build on the paper's legacy and its proud history as the oldest Sunday paper in the world.

And what a history. The Observer supported the Chartist movements for political and social reform in the 19th century. It backed the rise of early trade unionism. It sided with the North against the Confederate slave states in the American civil war. It played a vital role in helping to establish Amnesty International and Index on Censorship and became the principal supporter in the British press of Nelson Mandela.

The Observer's core strengths and what we could provide in an age when readers are increasingly at the receiving end of a media tsunami. Amid that chaos there is a role for a Sunday paper that offers increased reflection, discursiveness and analysis. But it also has to offer engagement, passion and a commitment to highlighting issues in line with the founding principles of the paper. The Observer has to stand for something, and to stand out as a result.

The paper that appears next Sunday will be substantially changed from the first edition of the Observer on 4 December 1791. But we will also have a great deal in common. That first edition set out its blueprint for Sunday journalism as one intended to "apply the strictest attention and care to greater objects of general concern", but also promised to report on "the fine Arts,­emanations (sic) of Science, the Tragic and the Comic Muse, the National Police, ­fashion and fashionable follies". It still holds true".

The relaunch of a Sunday newspaper with time for reflection, with an open view to society, with a vision of a fair and joyous way of life. It almost sounds like the Good News Papers that have tried and failed. This is an old British established newspaper that has had a serious look at itself and is coming out fighting with an engagement in how life can be. Something to strive for, a life of happiness.

We are constantly bombarded with news in a way that creates a feeling of uselessness, of inability to take responsibility. How can we handle the stream of disasters that make up the normal newscast; for me there is a tendency to shut down. It is too much to handle, before one drama has been absorbed, the next one is being reported. It becomes a form of visual pornography as we view these situations taking place around the globe with no hope of affecting them.

The news desks have the attitude of grabbing us by the short and curlies and gluing us to the screen or headlines. There is no time for reflection or evaluating, it is just a constant stream of disturbing images. We are as wild animals caught in the headlights of life unable to step aside or make a considered opinion.

Sundays have been the day for a quiet time, a space for reflection. A time to sit and mull over what the week has brought and how we will handle the coming time. Even this time has now been absorbed into the new God of consumerism. Shops and nurseries are open, we are drawn away from a quiet time of reflection to go out and shop or entertain ourselves. When will we get time to sit and be, to just have a time of quietness? A time to absorb and reflect, to gain energy and prepare for what is to come.

Where are we to find space in our daily lives to reflect and take a time out? There is an obvious answer; it takes a small effort to remove ourselves from the daily humdrum and slip into the studio for a safe, quiet time.

I figure on still reading the Sunday papers. Following the Guardian online and watching a bit of BBC. My hope is to find space to follow a path of happiness, to be able to handle the challenges life chucks at me in a relatively calm way.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Robin Hood Tax



So finally a tax to be pleased about.
Death and taxes are unavoidable. We know they are coming, we would rather not think about it. Just do not want to know.

An English organisation has started campaigning for a tax on the banking system. The idea is to tax all transactions that do not involve clients. A tax on speculation!

Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral ++) has made a great video with Bill Nighy setting out the case.

You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYtNwmXKIvM

The idea of what to do with the money is not quite in place yet. There will be plenty of it as the sums mentioned are huge. It will need the major economies to be in some form of agreement otherwise the banking world will simply move transactions to states that are not in agreement.

A small step for the banking world, a huge leap for mankind?

Friday, 5 February 2010

The man drawer


An English comedian has a little spiel on men and their foibles. One of the things guys do is to have a drawer to put a few things in. If he is in a relationship he will claim not to need any space, maybe just a drawer to put a few things in. Now what a guy puts in the drawer is nearly always the same.

Sets of keys from the last places he has lived.
A spring loaded measuring tape.
Various cables for bits of tech. equipment that he probably no longer uses.
Coins and small change from foreign travels.

Why keep the keys? They are no longer relevant. Are we going to be requested at some time in the future to go on a secret mission to our old apartments. Your mission is to approach the property through the side gate, open the shed door and unlock the cupboard on the right. Travel across town and enter the cellar of your old apartment. None of this is ever going to happen. Are the keys thrown out? Well no, they might come in handy, even though you no longer have any idea where they fit.

The measuring tape is an essential tool, every guy should have one, I have two. They can be whipped out and used at anytime. When your partner is out you can wander around the apartment with the measuring tape slipped on your belt. Zap, ready to measure at any moment.

The cables are just ridiculous (as if the rest had any relevance) why confuse an already muddled brain by offering alternatives solutions. If the equipment is chucked out, why not get rid of the cables at the same time. Sadly this is never the case and we spend hours struggling with finding just the right USB connection, maybe this one will fit. Even after going through the drawer and not finding the right connection we never think far enough ahead to actually chuck the useless cables out.

At least I know I am not alone on this. So ladies please have a little patience with us, we are a simple people and easily amused. If we are allowed to keep our toys we will cause you very little trouble. We can even be set tasks of tidying up the drawer. Probably nothing will be thrown out, at least you know we will be quiet for a few hours and you know where we are.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

divinely discontent




"Getting drunk or doing exercise works.
Life coaches work if they turn the "i" in Frank Sinatra lyrics to "you". You did it your way.
In the words of Deepak Chopra, I will remain divinely discontent."

This is from a comment in the English newspaper the Guardian. He/she is referring to an article refuting the premise of Homeopathy.
A group of doubters gathered and took "overdoses" of homeopathic medicine in public in an attempt to prove its lack of effectiveness.

I have no great interest in the problematic, what interested me was the quote from Deepak Chopra. "I will remain divinely discontent."

Is this not what we strive for, to find that elusive solution? A solution that seems so close and yet so distant. We are divinely discontent, moving through life searching and sifting.

How did we react/relate to what just happened?

How are we relating to something in the future. How do we project our patterns onto the future.

Today I was cycling along (OMG not another bit of bike philosophy!) there was a lot of slush lying in the gutters. Between the road and the cycle path there was a big bank of snow. The cars and trucks were sometimes running through the slush and spraying it across the cycle path.

As I cycled along I could feel myself getting more and more angry about the cars and trucks. Here I am projecting what will happen when a car hits the slush and sprays me. Let me tell you that my reaction pattern was not very calm and considered, there was punching, throwing slush, even urinating in public. Well you will be pleased to hear that none of that happened. My ride was completely uneventful, dry trousers and a calming of the mind. So why do I let my crazy horse mind get carried away?
This is a long way from divine nature, though certainly in the deep and dark realms of discontent.

To be aware of the tricks and games our mind gets us involved in is a good step on the path. Of course it is great fun to let the mind shoot off and fantasize, it is entertaining and we need a little R&R. Life need not be a serious search for anything, a fun search can get us to some very interesting places as well.

Today foray into the world of slush and budding anger was maybe not the most healthy use of my time. To have realized what a dork I was being is probably enough of a lesson. And certainly a feeling of gratitude that I did not live out my wild fantasy of what would have happened if I did get sprayed.

I remain yours Divinely Discontent.