• 2014-02-25–without leaving the warmth of our livingroom, we miraculously went to the high arctic to quttinirpaaq national park (full of bunnies); at the rom, we saw how fakes and frauds are exposed; we went down a graffitied alley while rick mercer ranted that the current government’s revision of the fair elections act discourages voters, especially young voters–how will we get out of the alley?; we went to tim horton‘s in just 22 minutes; in australia we sized up the very big (trees), the very small (bacteria), and the in-between (red kangaroos). whew!
images from the lundy island marine conservation zone
A female cardinal, very much alive (thanks to sh). Richard Rohr writes that ‘if you split entirely [between life and death], you spend your whole life trying to avoid any kind of death (anything negative, uncomfortable, difficult, unfamiliar, dangerous, or demanding).’ Andrea Warner writes that ‘over the last 15 years, criticism and critical thinking became (wrongly) synonymous with bullying and aggression. People replaced politics with patriotism. Marketing speak infiltrated each corner of our waking lives, with personae and brands dominating our online interactions, thereby applying a veneer of shiny, bland banality to our everyday actions.’ The personal is always political, and vice versa. To know yourself is to know something of the world. To know the world is to know something of yourself.
Similar to Warner’s observation that marketing has infiltrated our lives, David Suzuki notes that ‘governments, media and much of the public are preoccupied with the economy. That means demands such as those for recognition of First Nations treaty rights and environmental protection are often seen as impediments to the goal of maintaining economic growth.’ The gross domestic product (GDP) ‘has become a sacred indicator of well-being.’ ‘Sacred’? I thought this was a secular culture. And what blurred the vision of a Just Society? A Just Society is more than the bottom line. It requires compassion and critical thinking.
Critical thinking at times makes people feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Perhaps because we’re not comfortable and familiar with death. But 15, 20 years ago we were facing our fears, at least musically. In fact Sarah McLachlan had a song called Fear on her 1993 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Remember other 90s fearless women’s voices like Ani DiFranco, Hole, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, and Bif Naked? And a few men, like Kurt Cobain, Warner points out, who ‘spoke out against rape, sexism, homophobia and racism. These simple principles shouldn’t make him special, and yet even to this day, only a handful of male musicians speak publicly on such topics (Talib Kweli, Ben Gibbard, Shad and Joel Plaskett among them). Some will argue that male voices don’t belong in the fray, but the more people who advocate equality, the more equality becomes the rule rather than the exception.’ Warner concludes that ‘we may very well be on the eve of a feminist resurgence.’ Lorde and Tegan and Sara ‘have never been more popular. Folk-blues artist Valerie June is unstoppable. Grimes and Janelle Monáe are massive inspirations.’
Suzuki says that ‘we deserve better indicators of societal well-being that extend beyond mere economic growth. Many economists and social scientists are proposing such indicators. Some argue we need a “genuine progress indicator”, which would include environmental and social factors as well as economic wealth. A number of groups … have suggested an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, which would take into account “income inequality, environmental damage, and depletion of environmental assets.” The Kingdom of Bhutan has suggested measuring gross national happiness.’ Could be a matter of life and death.
• 2014-02-26–the shannon is ireland’s wild river. in this beautiful documentary, colin stafford-johnson paddles down the gentle river during the course of a year. (pictured is a kingfisher fishing on the shannon.)
• 2014-02-27–allergies in much of the west are rapidly on the rise. there are some exceptions, as we found out, which have researchers scratching (in a different way).
Sure, Kurt Cobain was screwed up in some ways. In other ways he had his head on straight and his eyes forward. But a male feminist? He and Courtney Love ‘tried to keep it completely equal. “It’s completely divided. We have influence on each other. It’s totally 50-50.” ‘ Once he said ‘he’d quit Nirvana to play guitar in Courtney Love’s band Hole.’ Cobain self-identified as a feminist. So what do female feminists want of male feminists? Tracy Moore (Jezebel) lists some (and if you read the article, she elaborates):
- Have a sense of humour
- Be pissed off, too
- Don’t get hung up on the name
- Really mean it
- You don’t have to be perfect
- It’d be nice if you’d speak out in front of other guys
- Back it up with actions
- Advance pro-feminist arguments in the spaces you inhabit, especially art
- Be our friends
- Don’t be afraid to challenge traditional masculinity
Les Kaye (author of Zen At Work, Zen master, student of Suzuki Roshi) admits he’s not as smart or as well-spoken as Jon Kabat-Zinn or Matieu Ricard, who, he says, have four qualities: they are intelligent, compassionate, wise, and they’re nice guys. You don’t have much choice over intelligence; however, you do have a choice about compassion, wisdom, and being nice. Like them he is a practising Buddhist (been so for over thirty years), but meditation doesn’t take smarts or well-spokenness. I want to use the word ‘contemplative’ rather than ‘Buddhist’. ‘Contemplative’ includes non-Buddhist meditators, such as Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic. They all meditate. In fact, Kaye stresses that meditation is not religious at all. It’s a technique for inquiry into the mind. Kaye, until his retirement, was an IBM manager, a busy guy. How do you juggle busy and meditation? Kaye offers his experience: Meditation can bring balance in a busy world. The 20th century brought us many material goods and technologies, but they condition us into doing and possessing and we lose sight of who we really are. An increase in materialism diminishes our spiritual life because it conditions us to be more selfish, less compassionate (and I would add less just). The fundamental insight of Buddhism, he says, is that suffering comes from desire, based on ignorance of the real nature of the phenomenal world, of having a narrow worldview, of not seeing and not feeling our connection to things.
• 2014-03-01–veteran oceanographer bob ballard dives into the alien deep of an active undersea volcano, hawaii’s next island, to discover the link between life on land and its source underground; award-winning esl teacher monica petrus teaches more than grammar–she teaches citizenship and self-esteem; off the british coast and under water is amazing life (pictured) in the lundy island marine conservation zone.
• 2014-03-02–we avoid ads. as much as possible we listen to public radio, such as the cbc or cjrt, and watch public tv, like tvo or pbs. besides having few ads, they have great shows. ads are an insidious form of brainwashing, and shows can be very informative. i think the reason there is so much advertising is that human nature resists insidious brainwashing, so it needs constant reinforcement. we avoid the whole problem of brainwashing by listening or watching public radio and tv (which i guess is its own kind of brainwashing:) ). speaking of which, it’s oscar night, but we watched something completely different: how tudor farmers might have worked the land, and since then how ‘birth, marriage and death have all played a big part in the story of the bedroom.’ jm came over this aft. we caught up on our families, artistic doings (he’s shifting gears from teaching to song-making), and other journeys.
Fela Kuti left Africa in 1960. After playing jazz in America, he returned home in 1970 and founded afrobeat. He ‘then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for the many people connected to the12-string guitar band that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state.’ (thanks to ta & rh)
Red Hot live at the Lincoln Center with Superhuman Happiness and friends.
Riot grrrls, Kurt Cobain, and Lilith Fair: Andrea Warner wonders ‘WTF happened to ’90s feminism in music?’