Friday, 15 May 2015

The Activist Revolution

Mark Zuckerberg is a dick. He's a narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-professed asshole who walked all over his best friends to get what he wanted. But he will go down in history as a visionary alongside Einstein. We don't realize it yet, because he's new. He created social media, and with that spawned a generation of connectivity the likes the world has never seen. His vision allowed us to connect with one another, get informed, get knowledge. It also allowed us to get hundreds of pictures of cats. Not to mention bullshit. Lots and lots of bullshit.
Mark Zuckerberg's first business card.
Really.

However you about him he's created the future. With that future comes the opportunity for us as a people to help shape it.

Peace and Love

The sixties were a time of cultural revolution. Anti-war protests, peace and love, civil rights, and more. The message was carried through in that era through music, and yes, protest. The killing of students at Kent State University is fully engrained in the minds of those who lived through that time. As well, the assassinations of King and two Kennedys. With social activism comes discontent, opposing viewpoints, violence and tons of anger. Anger which today, seems all too close, again. Today we are again becoming activists, and a new revolution has begun. Today's revolution will have a deeper impact than anything Woodstock or Height-Ashbury could have ever accomplished. Today we have Facebook, and it's all thanks to one arrogant prick. A damn smart arrogant prick, but none-the less, Zuckerberg.

Over the past couple of years this planet of ours (the only one with beer), has gone to the shitter. Wars, plagues, corporate greed, incompetent politicians, drugs, economic power grabs, and generally people not giving the slightest crap about anything but themselves. Unfortunately, as the sixties generation saw, it's those in power causing it. Not much has changed. Things happened in the seventies, elected officials began to see the light and made changes. In the eighties, we signed peace accords and worked with warring powers to end strife. In the nineties, we began to see a thaw in decades-old tensions that had the world cowering under the fear of total annihilation, then we went to bat for the little guys who were unlawfully crushed under the oppressive weight of brutal regimes. The new millennium saw the rise of the war on terror. Now we see that getting out of hand. 

This decade, we see the light. Thanks to social media.

This decade draws parallels to the peace and love generation for a couple of reasons, first, we're fucking sick of it. Secondly, it's in our face. Constantly. You can't turn it off even if you wanted to. Even people living off the grid with no regard for the news of the day are inundated with current events and struggles because they stay connected to loved ones via social media. Obviously, that's not completely inclusive, but there are now billions of people on the net, the world shrank.

Eyes are open

So we see it. Everywhere. Someone's opinion is driven to you and it doesn't matter whether or not you care about a particular incident, you probably at least know about it. It doesn't matter anymore if you know what Monsanto is doing to our farmers and our food, but you know it isn't good. Social media has done it's job. You may love MacDonalds or hate it, but now you know that people are not going there as much and they're closing hundreds or restaurants due to falling profits. Why? Because information spreads like a disease and try as you might, you're gonna get some. MacDonalds has now gotten the hint. No longer do they have to spend millions on focus groups to see where the problem is, they just have to follow what's trending. And it's them. Last week they made news in that the CEO resigned, and the new CEO is taking steps to fix the food. Viral posts about their food not rotting may or may not have had and effect. Who knows.

ISIS is taking to social media to start a war, while we take to social media to end them. Hackivists are gradually grinding away at the terror cult's ability to draw recruits, and their own hackers are waging cyberwar with the rest of the world. Without the internet, we'd never know what we do, we'd have to rely on mainstream news for information, and then we'd be spoon fed what they want us to know. Mainstream news. On that note, without the internet would you be aware that 90% of your news intake is fed to you by only six companies? Who controls those companies? Big money. Big corporate elite, and we are their minions. 

No more.

Social media shows us the true nature of the world in all it's wondrous glory and gut-wrenching horror. Sites are springing up all the time (and shutting down), that portray things as "you should see them". Ah, there's the rub; someone else to scare you! Now it's up to us, as it was for hippies, to decide what to believe. Those of us who follow the trends and have some semblance of intelligence can easily pick the truth out. Again, the internet doesn't fail us, sites like Scopes are must-see sites to help sort out truth from perverse falsehoods.

Unfortunately, many people aren't so bright. There's a ton of people out there with internet access, the IQ roughly that of their shoe size, and a dumb theory. Wade carefully. It's amazing how many people believe the drivel being spewed. Sadly, many politicians take the bait, and the plagues of nonsensical disinformation spreads.

I read a lot of things from both sides. I'm open-minded enough to entertain an idea, and intelligent enough to know when I smell bullshit. I will read whack-a-doodle posts just as quick as intelligent thought-provoking articles, just because I enjoy being amused. Like the story last week about the Fox News guest (don't care to research her name, it's too stupid), who on a major mainstream network, claimed that the Amtrak conductor in last week's Philadelphia crash was gay, and as a result of thinking too much about gay sex, crashed the train. Read that again and shake your head. Nothing on Snopes. Yet.

What's going on

Landscape and the Fall of Icarus,
Pieter Bruegel the Elder? c. 1590
The reality is that many people don't care. They go about their lives in a manner befit themselves, and don't get upset about things they can't control. Many simply decide to not pay attention anymore, either out of apathy or fatigue. That's their choice. But regardless of what side of the fence you fall, even the most introverted people can't help to see issues. It's whether or not they choose to act that matters. Take this painting for example. This theory is not new. The painting, Landscape and the Fall of Icarus, (thought to be by Pieter Bruegel, c.1590), depicts Icarus falling to his death as people go about their business. It is the antipathy of a Flemish proverb - En de boer ... his ploegde voort; or pointing out the ignorance of people to fellow man's suffering. Even 400 years ago apathy was endemic.

The brainless bunch

Therein lies the problem. Fucktards with theories ruining true efforts to make this a better world. Smart people with theories will win. But social media brings out the loons too. Debate is never far away anymore. Post something political today and just see who grabs it and runs, or slams you for having an idea. Debate is a great thing, that's why elections feature them and schools have competitions with them. But bring your A-game, or you're a nitwit. While I do enjoy seeing people like Ted Nugent or Sarah Palin get crushed under the weight of intelligent people, I also believe they have a voice. And social media gives them the outlet they need. In the end, we all win.

It doesn't matter what you're opinion is, good, bad, or stupid. You have a voice, and that's what counts in a free society. Today, we take that freedom for granted, but remember that if it wasn't for Zuckerberg, that freedom could not possibly be expressed as effectively. You're reading my blog, which I will post on Facebook, and will get picked up by Google. People may share it, and my voice is heard. Everyone has that ability now. Everyone has an amplifier for their personal views, and everyone should use it, because it works.

This is a marvellous time, we will all change the world, together. The sixties generation could not have dreamed this, nor could any generation prior to the new millennium. It's up to us what we do with it, we can fix this world, or we could keep fucking it up. The majority will be heard, I just hope that majority doesn't think the US government is actually invading Texas and declaring martial law.

Make a difference.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Runts.

Change doesn't come easy to me. I'm a creature of habit. Hell I still have the dresser I had when I was six. I buy the same kind of shoes, the same kind of pants, drink my coffee the same as I did when I was 20, yadda yadda yadda. 

So hitting middle age makes me cringe for many reasons, things must change. My health for one. I went to see the doctor today because I'm loosing weight faster than dryers eat socks. I've lost almost 40 pounds in the past eight months, and that is just a little bit disconcerting. The first question she asked me today was "how much are you eating?" My answer was met by an obvious "Go eat a sandwich sometime". Yeah. Obviously. When I'm down, I don't eat. I know that's an issue. Even though I'm hungry and my stomach is in violent contractions, I will sit there, not wanting to bother. When I'm up, I binge. It ain't good. That's step one.

Step two, next week I get to go for a full work up, physical, blood test, urine test, the lot. She even mentioned the dreaded P word. (prost... I can't say it, it's painful to think about). Step three is thyroid, vitamin supplements and dietary supplements such as Boost. My calorie intake sucks.

So change is in the air. Middle age is in the air, I've been in denial for years. You don't really think middle age when you're still trying to figure out a career. In my mind, I'm still 26, not 46.

I started today, as soon as I got home from the doctor's I made myself a big bowl of oatmeal, an hour later a couple sandwiches, and a macaroni and beef concoction for dinner. I missed breakfast, the meal I hate the most. Mornings for me are coffee, open one eye; more coffee, crack the other eye; more coffee, focus the first eyeball... Cooking would be stupid. But I have to change that before I disappear in a wisp. 

Last year I was a steady 180 pounds. At one point two years ago I broke 200 for the first time in my life. I've always been thin, I sat around 145 for years. My weight, like my penchant for things staying the same, never varied. I used to piss my wife off because I never tried on pants, I'd read the tag and head for the checkout. Then I went up and had to start going into the change room. Now that I'm back down to 150, stuff I bought a couple years ago doesn't fit. Sigh.

Being thin is almost as much a crutch as being overweight. I never got picked first for school sports, I was laughed at on the beach, I ran out of energy too soon, and being that thin meant a lack of upper body strength. I took to the army to work on that and it soon dawned on me that I could keep up with the big guys, to some degree. But it's always been tough. When I went up I felt normal. Like just anyone else, last year my dreams of normality were crushed. I was a runt again. At the very least I'd like to not have to go buy yet more temporary pants. Cause, you know, I'd have to try them on. 

I'd at least like to be the same size as my 19 year old son. It's hard to be the big guy of the house when you're the smallest!

So I will change, because life moved on and I must move with it. I will take my Boost, take my vitamins, change my diet. At least I stopped eating fast food! (Um, wait... maybe I should take that up again...) I'll pull out the bike and start riding again, go for long walks and get more physical. I've slacked off and it shows. It shows the degree of 40 pounds. I've already heard people say how much they wish they could lose 40, or 30, or 10, but believe me, when you're a little guy it makes a huge difference. Look closer at the skinny runts you walk past, they also suffer from body image. It's turned around somewhat, but the problem is similar. Sure, we don't have to worry about things like diabetes, or heart issues brought on by being overweight, but it's a curse none-the-less.

I'm off to get that sandwich.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Stupid People. Stop Them. Please. I Beg You.

 No amount of medication available on today's market can possibly make a positive improvement to the vast quantity of stupid infecting many people today. I'm sick, I can take meds. You're stupid, there's no hope.

Lately we've been subjected to such utter bullshit and hyperbole it makes my head spin. We as a society are getting dumber by the day, our cumulative IQ dropping by the week. Why? We're sheeple. We see something online and we think to ourselves "hey, he's got a point. A dumb one, but a point, I have no brain of my own, so I'll just be a parasite on his". We no longer think for ourselves, we've hit the lowest common denominator - we believe dumb shit people with no valid grey matter say.

The advent of modern communications was supposed to inform us and make us better people. Apparently most people haven't figured that out yet, and when I say most, I actually mean the majority of those who somehow manage to get their idiotic self-serving un-educated and vitriolic points across, the problem?

We listen to this drivel.

Take Texas for example. They have an idiot for a governor - Greg Abbot (R). He just called out the National Guard to keep an eye on the US military's Exercise Jade Helm 2015. He thinks Obama is invading Texas and declaring martial law. So he's a whack-a-loon, that's okay, there's many of those. But who's worse, him or the idiots who believe him and spread this moronic message? Texans are grabbing their guns, bibles and confederate flags and heading out into the unknown. Someone's gonna get shot.

Then there's the US Senate. Last week they passed a bill clearly agreeing that global warming is a thing. But it is NOT man-made. This is the senate. This is the American upper house, they are suppose to be smart, surprise, they're idiots. If man hasn't caused global warming then who did?

I worked for an idiot. How he ever managed to get the job is beyond me, but one day he told us he bought a new piece of equipment, and we cheered. When we told him it wouldn't fit in the building, he simply said "move that wall over about six feet, it'll fit fine, I already bought it so..." We told him the wall was load bearing and the building would fall down. He told us to move it so the building doesn't fall down. Luckily, soon after I left, this idiot did too, on the boot of his boss.

I also worked with an idiot who told me one day the internet was broken. We went to her computer where she typed in an address, turned to me and said "see! nothing's happening!" I reached over her shoulder, hit enter and walked away. She's an idiot.

We make stupid people famous. The Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo's mom (don't really care what her name is), Sarah Palin, Paris Hilton, Miley Cirrus, and the guys from Duck Dynasty. Stupid. Stop that, stop following them, stop giving them attention, they crave that and not the right reasons. Giving these idiots any sort of attention means they won't ever go away, and to make matters worse, we've made them unbelievably rich in the process. Wouldn't it be SMARTER of us to give money to worthy causes that help the average person get along in life, like I don't know... EDUCATION? The problem of course at the bottom line is that STUPID PEOPLE ARE MAKING OTHER STUPID PEOPLE RICH AND FAMOUS. Thank you, John McCain, stand and take a bow.

We vote for these people, we follow them on twitter, we watch their shows, hell, the only reason Beiber is famous is YouTube. And some stupid person decided he would be a good thing. Stupid people getting ahead of those with brains and talent is entirely our fault. Is it because we're so inexplicably drawn to the preverbal train wreck? Who knows, or cares.

But the fact is there are now more idiots with money than smart people without.

I'll be the first to admit I've said and done some pretty dumb things in my life. While I don't claim to be a rocket scientist, I can at least carry on an intelligent conversation with someone with a descent level of intelligence. I hate arguing with stupid people. As Mark Twain so elegantly put it, "you can't argue with a stupid person because they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience". I like engaging intellectually stimulating verbage with substance. Honey Boo Boo is NOT substance. It's a brain aneurysm in the making.

Stop it. Stop voting for morons, watching morons, working for morons (easier said than done), stop giving stupid people reason to beat you with experience. And most of all, stop giving them money.

I'm going to get reamed for this post. Someone out there is going to tell me I am over the top on this and I'm doing nothing but insulting people. Not true, I'm insulting idiots. To those who think I'm one, you're entitled to you opinion.

I don't judge.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

From Monumental to Mundane, It's All In Your Mindset

As I sit here writing on a sunny Saturday morning, the house is quiet, the dog is chewing a bone, I'm embracing my morning coffee and thinking all is right with the world.

There are problems around me, ISIS is still killing innocent people, politicians are making asinine decisions for "our own good", corporations are taking over any hint of freedom we have, people are killing, robbing and raping each other, and some guy with a mental illness decided it was a good idea to crash a plane and kill himself and 150 other people. Bank fees are going up again, taxes are going up in the next budget, food prices rise while product gets smaller, and the list goes on. But for once, that's all i've got to worry about. Weirdly enough, that feels good.

2014 sucked. Huge. It was the year from hell and the year I'd like stripped from the record. Financially, mentally, physically, it just sucked. I vowed that this year would be a change for the better. I've taken steps in that direction, but it's a long hard road upwards. It's a hell of a lot easier to fall into a hole than to climb out of it.

Most of what happened was due to my illness, my depression followed by ridiculous manic states found me curling up on the couch ignoring the world and hoping everything would just go away, to wanting to fix everything and do everything at once. I took to writing lists for myself just to keep my days straight. Mundane things that we take for granted had to be written down to remind me to do them, and if I missed looking at the list one day I ended up on the couch. Then I found that the lists themselves caused panic attacks. Once I wrote them I perused them, and cursed them. But in the end, it was the only way to compete with the inner demons. Systematically striking off the said demons one by one. Then adding more. I still write my lists, but today they've changed.

I am refocussing in here. Lately I've looked around this place and wondered why I've left things that should be done, like fixing the back fence, the back door, the junk in the basement. I've walked past these issues too many times lately, they weren't top of mind. Functioning was top of mind, things like taking a bath and combing my hair were chores. The house and the family suffered. I need to fix that now.

I don't do well on my own without some sort of goal. Without a firm grasp on what's got to be done as opposed to what I want to do, I will be content to sit on the computer all day searching for stupid things on Wikipedia or watching dumb YouTube videos. Useless endeavours to say the least. So on top of the list, I've taken to one other insightful philosophy. An old base Commander years ago, Colonel West, had a simple ideology he often passed on much to the annoyance of anyone in earshot; "Never Pass A Fault". A simple rule really, one which he pontificated to the point of your ears bleeding, but now years later I find that philosophy helpful. I walk through my house now everyday and simply pick things up, sweep this, wash that, move this to where it's supposed to be. I am no longer tied to the couch or the computer. Now I'm getting the shoe on the other foot - I'm constantly moving and tidying things. And by doing just that I'm becoming painfully aware of how much I've left off my lists. So yes, I wrote another list. This one dealing with the home repairs I've ignored for the past years.

Even the computer has changed it's purpose for me. Instead of whiling the time away uselessly I've taken to opening up old design software, learning to build websites, writing, positive things. Now YouTube is used for tutorials. I just had to refocus. I even spent one evening (three hours of it) re-writing the house budget. Something that surely would have tossed me into bed for days last year. It needed to be done and I finally just kicked myself in the ass. It ended up being a positive thing - an eye-opener, and something that kick-started my mood. I just had to start it. That was the hard part.

The obvious argument here is that I'm simply in a manic state again, and it won't be long until I crash. While that may be true, there's a huge difference. A person's actions while manic usually aren't focused and the person is doing things compulsively, without knowing or without caring. For example, I found myself packing a bag one day with the intention of hiking out of town for parts unknown. I also wanted to sell the house out from under the family and move to Scotland. Today, I am very aware of my actions, they're meticulously intentional. Manic has no part in this, the goal is to be etheric (stable mindset) and keep depression at bay. So I stick to my list.

I'm going to finish my coffee, read the news, play with the dog, then get something done around here. Things that "normal people" take for granted, but for me they're a monumental undertaking. This year I will strive to change that mindset and make this a good year. This year I will get off my depressed angry self-pittying ass and be normal. 

I'm going to start by getting rid of the business card on my desk that's been staring me in the face for days. It doesn't need to be there.

Cheers, enjoy your Saturday.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Spring List

Spring is finally here. A season of rebirth and renewal, of which I fully intend to take advantage of. No longer do I have any excuse to hibernate, it's time to get life moving again. I see that, but I also see the coffee pot and the computer.

This spring will bring new activities and options. I have things around the house I've been putting off for too long now, and I gave myself a deadline to get them taken care of. First off there's the hole in the library ceiling where we had to fix water pipes, then there's the back door. A few years ago we replaced the door, but I never got around to fixing the wall around it, so you can plainly see the plaster and lathe around the door. It's an eyesore that I've been meaning to fix, but just never got around to. I have it on my radar now. I also want a new floor in the kitchen, the old linoleum is pretty beat up and showing it's age. These are my priorities, and hopefully I will add more to the list. I need to replace the flower beds in the front and back, fix the back fence, clean the crap piled up beside the house, and several other little things.

All of this sounds easy and really is. Nothing here is groundbreaking. The problem is the illness I suffer from keeps me from attacking projects with any sense of urgency. I get very frustrated and depressed, and end up on the couch. Not good. It's a fight to accomplish anything meaningful on a daily basis, my inner demons keep pushing me to inactivity.

It's a commonly held belief that many people suffer from something called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even though my Psych indicated that I'm grouped in with this lot, I don't really agree with it. I see it more as STWSOSIWDFA, or Shit The Weather Sucks Outside So I Will Do Fuck All. I'm no doctor, but I think that sums up what everyone is thinking more precisely. I've already been labelled with enough disorders that I don't need another one, thank you very much.

This winter sucked. We took a hit on several fronts, and now we're climbing up the ladder. Soon the car will be back on the road, even though I finally don't mind walking. I can't believe the freedom I lost when I parked her. Just the ability to go buy groceries without making a day of it will be welcomed. Simple things we take for granted are lost when you have no wheels. I know thousands of people in town don't have cars, and they survive quite well, but have one for years and suddenly loose it and it puts things into perspective. Transit Windsor really does suck. Now I see that clearly. However, there is something about not driving that appealed to me, that is, not driving. Being the only one in the house with a license all these years meant that anywhere someone wanted to go, it was me. I've enjoyed not being the chauffeur!

Other aspects of spring await. Next week we're surrendering the dog, which although sad to say, has to be done. He's very high maintenance, and I can only do so much around here with him. I won't go into the reasons we're surrendering him, but I can say that I look forward to not having to crate him just to go to the bathroom. Once I have a level of freedom back, I can start cleaning out the basement. Right now I can't go down there for any reason without him getting into everything and eating my couch. Next Friday will be a sad day, but it has to be done.

Spring also brings out neighbours. It's always funny that each spring people take tepid steps out of their houses and look around like the groundhog looking for his shadow. Each spring we open windows, dust off the porch chairs, clean up the crap the snow left behind, and actually converse with one another. It's a weird time. In my case, as I watch the snow slowly recede from my car, I see the two flat tires. Another spring project. I also see the mud piles on every front yard on this street. When the city replaced our water mains last fall they couldn't replace the grass, it had to wait til spring, so we all have mud pits. It's making the melt so much more fun! But like other issues, that will be fixed soon enough.

It's also time to start packing away the winter coats and trying to figure out where I hid the spring jackets. I went out yesterday without a hat, a small thing, but not shrouding myself in layers of protective gear felt good. As Canadians we're used to this weather, it's not uncommon on the coldest days to see someone wearing shorts around here. I don't partake in that kind of practise, but I have been known to wear my kilt out to events when it's minus holy crap out.

One of my favourite spring past times is simply sitting on the porch with a book, or a laptop, writing. But this season I have to change that tune a bit. I have to get busy around here. I have a deadline, family is coming from overseas to visit and I want the house looking nice for them. Without a deadline the illness will prevail, and I will find the couch, and the wife will be annoyed. There are more reasons to do things this year than not to do them, which is what I need. Now given that, does anyone know how to plaster? Please? Anyone?

Happy Spring.