kaffyr: Weeping angel peers through "clock" (Time's no Angel)
What Once Was Wrong, the Inevitable Will Crown Right

When I was a little girl, I used to read comic strips in my daily newspaper. One of them was a would-be Buck Rogers strip called, if I remember correctly, Brick Bradford (which information I had to retrieve from Wikipedia. It certainly ran a long time.)

One of the adventures in that otherwise forgettable strip has stayed with me ever since. The hero sets down on a planet with a toxic atmosphere, with beings he at first thinks are unintelligent beasts. He and his colleagues eventually come to realize that this is a planet that was once like Earth, but which has become so polluted that it now has a completely different ecosystem, to which all those of the planets beings who survived have adapted. To them, Brick's obligatory scientist colleague narrates, Earth's atmosphere would be deadly.

The story fascinated me for two reasons: a) the idea that something we would consider absolutely wrong - an environment, say - would be absolutely natural to other beings, indeed necessary and non-toxic. I considered it compelling both environmentally (although I didn't think of it in those terms back in 1966 or 1967, which may have been when I read it) and philosophically; b) the idea that our world could end, that we would end, but that it might be OK, because something equally important or intelligent or what-have-you, might grow to take our place in a vastly changed world.

All of which leads me to this: Thanks to [personal profile] ljgeoff  for alerting me to this article. For all that I've just said, I'd much rather we managed, somehow against all logic, to stick around. I guess I'm not quite mature or enlightened enough to take the approach of the writer. And he's right, not me.



kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Help Japan)
After the Wave

[livejournal.com profile] honorh , about whom so many of us in the Doctor Who fan community worried in the days after Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster, has written about her experience. It is well worth reading, a reminder both of human resilience and decency, and of Japan's continuing travail and need. She has also provided a follow up comment, here at her journal.
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Help Japan)
After the Wave

[livejournal.com profile] honorh , about whom so many of us in the Doctor Who fan community worried in the days after Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster, has written about her experience. It is well worth reading, a reminder both of human resilience and decency, and of Japan's continuing travail and need. She has also provided a follow up comment, here at her journal.
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Default)
To Every Thing There is a Season
Nine years ago tomorrow, things fell apart. We're still trying to put things back together. It's difficult, because, nine years on, we still can't find all the broken pieces and we still can't decide how they go together, and we're still fighting over how it got to be so bad that things fell apart, and we're still figuring out whether we need new pieces.

And part of the difficulties are the thousands of souls no longer here who were, nine years ago today.

And part of the difficulties are all the souls — hundreds and hundreds and unending hundreds of them, young and old, man and woman, deliberate and accidental, son, daughter, father, mother, fighter, non-com, ally and adversary — that followed those first ones into the dark.

And part of the difficulties are that what fell apart here was echoed and presaged and iterated and reiterated, before and after, like images in a puzzle of mirrors. all over the world. And now things are falling apart for people we don't know, oceans and cultures away, but it's all still connected.

It's hard to put things back together when the blocks we reach for may only be images in the mirrors of our own fears, or someone else's fears, or worse.

It's hard to put things back together when we can't agree on what they looked like before, or what they should look like now.

It's hard to put things together when people stand in the wreckage and glory in it, even as they hate everyone else standing in the wreckage and glorying in it.

It's hard to put things back together when people are shooting at us, harder still when our own hands are filled with guns and not blocks.

And love is not the answer, or at least not all of it.

Patience is.
Willingness to listen is.
Willingness to restrain our anger is.
Willingness to see the other.
Willingness to work hard to make the other see us.
Willingness to work hard, period.
Willingness to fail; over, and over, and over, until we get it right.

And it's hard, because we're not the only ones in the equation. And others have to learn those lessons, too, and how the hell do we convince them to learn, and help us find and fix the things that fell apart?

And then we need a break from the lords of chance and change, ensuring that everyone, on all sides, grows weary of salting the earth and burning the bridges and living in hate.

I don't know how to do it any more than you know, at least not all of it. That's the problem when things fall apart. None of us has one answer, one answer seems to be all we're looking for, and even if there was one answer, we probably couldn't agree on it, or bring ourselves to follow its dictates.

do know what we don't need. Screaming over a community center or a place of worship. I found this particularly helpful. And I signed this. If you decide to do it, pass it on, would you?
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Default)
G'Oh Canada!

I am ridiculously proud of being Canadian right now.

It's ridiculous, because I'm always proud of being a Canadian.

Ridiculous, because I'm not athletic in the least. In fact, I mistrust the culture of sports worship.
Ridiculous, because I know how awful Olympic politics can be, how overheated and chemically-suspect the athletic events are. Ridiculous because so much in the world - war, injustice, scientific progress, the fight for good - demands my attention and heart, and an athletic event is way, way down the list, and should be.

And yet ... and yet, I'm so proud of the Olympic Games being in Vancouver. Our country is so beautiful, and we are welcoming the world tonight. The fact that our First Nations were a major part of the ceremonies, and that it was considered proper that they be considered just that - nations - brought tears to my eyes.

Do well, Canada. Treat our visitors well. Compete honorably. Make friends. Be Magnificent.
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Default)
G'Oh Canada!

I am ridiculously proud of being Canadian right now.

It's ridiculous, because I'm always proud of being a Canadian.

Ridiculous, because I'm not athletic in the least. In fact, I mistrust the culture of sports worship.
Ridiculous, because I know how awful Olympic politics can be, how overheated and chemically-suspect the athletic events are. Ridiculous because so much in the world - war, injustice, scientific progress, the fight for good - demands my attention and heart, and an athletic event is way, way down the list, and should be.

And yet ... and yet, I'm so proud of the Olympic Games being in Vancouver. Our country is so beautiful, and we are welcoming the world tonight. The fact that our First Nations were a major part of the ceremonies, and that it was considered proper that they be considered just that - nations - brought tears to my eyes.

Do well, Canada. Treat our visitors well. Compete honorably. Make friends. Be Magnificent.
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Vermeer Girl)
Mercy, Mercy
Ah, mercy mercy me.
     When Marvin Gaye sat down almost 40 years ago to write his report on the health of the planet - both elegiac and urgent, its surprisingly brief lyrics direct, beautiful, filled with bewilderment and sorrow - he didn't speak of global warming. He talked about oceans dirtied with oil, fish poisoned with mercury, the killing of wildlife with radiation. Those were the concerns of the public as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
     When you consider that the copyright on his song is only 1971, though, his words seem to reflect an almost prescient, and very clear-eyed, awareness.
No, no ...
     I was 16 at the time the song came out. I remember being interested in music, but if I heard the song at that time, it didn't register. Even though my nascent political awakening had already started along with my interest in rock and roll, ecologically-minded Motown wasn't all that big on the one AM radio station to which I had access. Ecology - that wasn't a word that interested me, not like politics. They really didn't have much to do with each other, did they?
Where did all the blue skies go?
     Eventually, though, I noticed.
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east,
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas, fish full of mercury.

     I left high school, left college, got a job. It was the mid-1970s, then the late 1970s. I still heard the song around the dial, and now the words resonated a little more. Exxon Valdez. China Syndrome. (Look them up, children. Disasters - attacks on the earth both real and imagined, that captured our attention long before you were born.)
Radiation under ground and in the sky,
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying.

     Somehow the years went by. I heard the song again, and again. I heard the compound word Greenpeace for the first time. The concerns changed, but they were still the same. Earth was hurting, Earth's children were hurting. We were hurting.
Ah, mercy, mercy me
     Back then, we didn't seem to want to realize that we were also doing the hurting. Or when we did realize it, we turned on each other, snarling about who or what was to blame. It was the industrialists, it was the capitalists, it was our parents, it was the whalers, it was the polluters, it was Them. Not us.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
    Except that they are. Almost. We're still hissing and spitting at each other about who's to blame. (Except for those increasingly few among us who still claim that nothing's wrong. Or not much. Not too much. Well, not too awfully much.) We're still trying hard not to look in the mirror.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
     Concerns change. .
Ah, mercy, mercy, me
     Global Warming.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
     But sometimes things do change. Sometimes they change because we humans do - reluctantly, and only when our noses are not only pushed into our own mistakes but bloodied by them. 
Ah, mercy, mercy me.
     Sometimes we change when the threats to the planet finally come to us, like some knife to our throat, and we can't argue it away, we can't bargain it away, we can't pretend it's not there.
Ah, things ain't what they used to be.
     When the droughts can't be ignored. When the famines don't go away. When the temperatures and the great oceans rise and the little landlocked seas shrink along with the icecaps.
What about this overcrowded land,
How much more abuse from man can she stand?

     When the fires of factories and cook stoves, the exhaust of cars (and cows, we can't avoid mentioning the cows, because who says crisis can't be a little funnier with cows) cast up an insulating veil of particulates between us and the sky, and we can't pretend we don't know the inconvenient truths of what the veil causes.
Things ain't what they used to be.
     Because we know more now. (Like, did you know - and I got this from Robert H. Socolow, writing in the July, 2005, Scientific American - that 380 of every million molecules we draw into our body with each breath are carbon dioxide, compared with the 280 molecules of CO2 Shakespeare breathed in?)
Ah, mercy, mercy me.
     Marvin Gaye's song clocks in at about three minutes, 25 seconds. At about 2:46, the music takes an eerie turn, falling abruptly into a minor key, its melody suddenly the echoing wail of something ... not quite right, something dying. I finally noticed that ending. And once I noticed it, I couldn't get it out of my head.
Things ain't what they used to be.
     How close are we to the end of the song?
Oh, na na...
My sweet Lord... No
My Lord... My sweet Lord

     See, if I'd wanted to end on a dramatic note, I wouldn't have added those last three lines. They're the ones you can't really hear him sing, but they're there in most of the printed lyrics to the song (which actually bears the rather cumbersome title "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)")
     They're both rejection and prayer. Perhaps a rejection of the vision he's woven, perhaps a prayer that it won't come true.
Things ain't what they used to be.
     They don't have to be. We can change, can't we?


Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)
© Jobete Music Co Inc,







worry, worry, worry

Saturday, 24 May 2008 01:20 pm
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Nine burns)
Bubble, Boil, Trouble

Others I know have said it before, and with righteous anger (hi, [profile] madtruk , you're too right, mate) and with better serious thought, but lately it's been on my mind, too. So...

I'm afraid the monster chickens - with fangs, and a taste for the flesh of human civilizations - may be coming home to roost when it comes to the fluid that keeps the damned world running. I've seen the price of gas go up more than $2 in two months here in Chicago, to $4.17 for low-grade (that's the lowest I could find for low-grade on the north side, and I understand high grade has gone up to $4.50 in the center of the city) and I realized in my bones that it isn't going to get better.

(A word to folks who've had to pay outrageously high prices for gas - in Canada, in Britain and Europe - for years; I'm aware that we've been kept afloat in the past by unrealistic price subsidies. I know you guys have had it worse for a long time. I have a mom in Nova Scotia, and I hear about it from her, not to mention what I read about in news reports. But the jump is tremendously steep in the time it's happened. And, frankly, I'm afraid you folks are also going to get yet another gas gut-shot as your prices go up even further.)

In short, the long-awaited, long denied (as in "la-la-la-we're-going-to-put-our-fingers-in-our-ears-and-pretend-China's'-not-drinking-oil-faster-than-us-now" denial) fossil fuel singularity is upon us.

Philosophically-fueled and societally-generated general terror aside, it has personal repercussions. I'm going to have to change the way I've become used to living my life, as a car-happy North American. Folks in the newsroom have been talking about it all week: how we can maybe cut out a day of driving to work and work from home, maybe bike when our aging bodies will allow the nine-plus mile one way drive. (Hey, we're all ancient.) Which days we need the cars to cover meetings, or go to the cops, or have interviews....on the home front, BB and I have already decided to no longer make separate grocery runs. I'll do all the grocery shopping on my way to and from work....

*trembles a bit, in fear and awe that she's living when the world changes*

But enough about my eyes. How's every little thing with y'all?

Oh, and welcome to the Memorial Day weekend, for all of us who are in the U.S., and happy weekend after Victoria Day weekend for the Canucks, and uhm...happy Eurovision Weekend for everyone on the right side of the Atlantic. Has it been wonderful? Has it been memorable? Has it worn crazy clothes in unfortunate colors? Has it been of dubious taste, and slightly off-key? Has it been a turkey vulture yet?

worry, worry, worry

Saturday, 24 May 2008 01:20 pm
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Nine burns)
Bubble, Boil, Trouble

Others I know have said it before, and with righteous anger (hi, [profile] madtruk , you're too right, mate) and with better serious thought, but lately it's been on my mind, too. So...

I'm afraid the monster chickens - with fangs, and a taste for the flesh of human civilizations - may be coming home to roost when it comes to the fluid that keeps the damned world running. I've seen the price of gas go up more than $2 in two months here in Chicago, to $4.17 for low-grade (that's the lowest I could find for low-grade on the north side, and I understand high grade has gone up to $4.50 in the center of the city) and I realized in my bones that it isn't going to get better.

(A word to folks who've had to pay outrageously high prices for gas - in Canada, in Britain and Europe - for years; I'm aware that we've been kept afloat in the past by unrealistic price subsidies. I know you guys have had it worse for a long time. I have a mom in Nova Scotia, and I hear about it from her, not to mention what I read about in news reports. But the jump is tremendously steep in the time it's happened. And, frankly, I'm afraid you folks are also going to get yet another gas gut-shot as your prices go up even further.)

In short, the long-awaited, long denied (as in "la-la-la-we're-going-to-put-our-fingers-in-our-ears-and-pretend-China's'-not-drinking-oil-faster-than-us-now" denial) fossil fuel singularity is upon us.

Philosophically-fueled and societally-generated general terror aside, it has personal repercussions. I'm going to have to change the way I've become used to living my life, as a car-happy North American. Folks in the newsroom have been talking about it all week: how we can maybe cut out a day of driving to work and work from home, maybe bike when our aging bodies will allow the nine-plus mile one way drive. (Hey, we're all ancient.) Which days we need the cars to cover meetings, or go to the cops, or have interviews....on the home front, BB and I have already decided to no longer make separate grocery runs. I'll do all the grocery shopping on my way to and from work....

*trembles a bit, in fear and awe that she's living when the world changes*

But enough about my eyes. How's every little thing with y'all?

Oh, and welcome to the Memorial Day weekend, for all of us who are in the U.S., and happy weekend after Victoria Day weekend for the Canucks, and uhm...happy Eurovision Weekend for everyone on the right side of the Atlantic. Has it been wonderful? Has it been memorable? Has it worn crazy clothes in unfortunate colors? Has it been of dubious taste, and slightly off-key? Has it been a turkey vulture yet?

Help. It's necessary

Wednesday, 5 December 2007 08:28 pm
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Lives)
It can't just be food for thought
    What do we need to live?
    Air, to breathe. Water, to drink. Food, to eat. Shelter from heat and cold, wet and drought. Friends and family, to love and be loved by. The intangibles - literature, the arts, perhaps faith in something - to keep us human and make us more.
    There. In those three typewritten lines, you have, arguably, all that's needed to optimize our human race. You have, arguably, the recipe for making the life of every man, woman and child on Earth that much closer to good.
     Of the six "needed-to-live" items I mentioned, the first three - air, water and food - are utterly indispensable.
    Air is, by and large, available freely, although not necessarily in pristine condition.
    Water is more problematic. In many areas of the world, its lack is the source of more than enough human woe to break your heart. In the First World, however, it is generally available. In the First World, we're usually successful in ensuring that humans don't systemically die from lack of water.
    Hunger, however, is another thing.
    Lack of food. Hunger
    Hunger is a monster. It kills people. It stunts their lives, their stature, their minds, their spirits. It kills quickly and slowly.
    It lives everywhere. Spin a globe and point at some random place; chances are that people are dying because of hunger wherever your finger lands. Hunger's causes are myriad. War, economic mismanagement, greed, short-sightedness, willful ignorance, and, occasionally, inescapable fate; take your pick.
    If you're reading this, you're most likely members of the First World. I hope that means you've never experienced hunger. I hope it's an abstraction to you. I know it is to me. Hunger's never squatted in my home, attacked my baby, ruined my concentration. It's never wearied me, or made every thought and action painful and slow, made sleep impossible, and waking life un-doable. It's not my nightmare.
    But somewhere on my First World street, somewhere in my First World neighborhood, and in my First World city, there are people who are hungry. There's no room for argument, for denial; there are studies, and demographic analyses and news stories and there's an end to any argument about whether it exists here. It does.
    And it affects me, in numerous ways.
    Start with the practical. Every child whose physical and mental development is altered by constant low-level hunger is a child who can't concentrate in school, who fails in school, who becomes unemployable, who erodes my society in that fashion.
    End with my heart. Every man, woman or child is connected to me, by virtue of species of nothing else. I can't wave a wand and make their lives better, but I have a responsibility to do what I can to give them the chance to make their own lives better. If that means providing at least enough food that they can have a restful sleep, and maybe do a little better in the classroom or on the job, and get strong enough to stand on their own two feet, then I have that responsibility.
    And there are outlets that allow me to do so. There are soup kitchens, food pantries, food depositories and distribution centers. In America, a nationwide system of national, regional and local food distribution outlets exists to help fight hunger.
    That system - in large part represented by an entity called America's Second Harvest - depends on an established balance of federally supplied or subsidized excess farm commodities (think dairy goods and other basic foodstuffs) and private donations (both individual and corporate) which allow the system to buy more food for distribution to the hungry. It's not a perfect system, but it's amazingly successful.
    In my neck of the woods, the system's highest-profile representative is The Greater Chicago Food Depository. In your neck of the woods it may be called something else.
    And right now, America's anti-hunger food distribution system is staggering. The balance has been disrupted.   
     Why?
    1) The amount of available excess commodities has dropped as the farming industry has become more successful at selling its goods on the commercial market.
    2) The amount of money supplied by the federal government to buy those excess goods has not grown to beat inflation or increased food costs for the past several years.
    Some, if not all, of the imbalance could be rectified: simply pass a new USDA Farm Bill with a reasonable increase in the amount of money earmarked for the national food distribution system.
    That hasn't happened yet, and food distribution centers across the country are reeling. They need your help, and you can help them in a couple of ways.
    One way's pretty self-evident. Donate food and money to the distribution centers in your area. Do it for the first time, or increase what you normally give. Donate your time. Contact these groups and ask what you can do.
    Another way is to exercise your democratic right to influence your government. You can, if you choose, tell your federal representatives that you want them to pass a farm bill that helps the food distribution system.
    You can learn a lot more about the current situation by accessing information at America's Second Harvest, or, here in the Chicago area, the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
    I may have come across as a self-important  termagant with this. I hope not.

Blog Action Day

Monday, 15 October 2007 08:01 am
kaffyr: The TARDIS says hello (Lives)
Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

If you breathe, drink, eat, think...you live. And if you do those things, you're doing them here on this planet. We breathe its air, we drink its water, we eat of its riches. And we live.

But if we don't start treating it with some respect, I can't vouch for the planet's treating us well much longer.

It deserves better from us.

We can give it better.

And, do you know what? We get more than we'd ever expect by giving to the fire, water, air and earth - this Earth - that makes up our home.

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