Beyond Boxes.

flickr svklimkin publicdomain aug 8 2017Every now and then, I come across someone from India who has something crappy to say about the Indian diaspora. It makes little sense to me since my roots are only partly East Indian, and I don’t identify as Indian (or anything other than ‘Other’). In my youth, I was constantly asked about this in Trinidad and Tobago because to my father’s side of the family, I was not seen as Indian, and in Trinidad and Tobago at the time – and even now – they would ask me if I was white or Indian.

It wasn’t til I was 16 or so that I figured out I could be both and neither. I got to pick what I took from different cultures, much to the chagrin of those around me, and built my own identity as most third culture kids do. Had I been in the US, I have no doubts I would have been mistaken for some version of Latino – it happens to this day, and in Trinidad and Tobago these days, I often get mistaken for a Venezuelan.

The trouble isn’t that I don’t know who I am. I do know who I am. The trouble is that I don’t fit neatly into a slot with fuzzy borders of racism.

A few days ago, I was on Twitter, doing my thing when I encountered an Indian who, when he could not refute my comments, went ad hominem, brought up the indentured past of my father’s side of the family. I chuckled. The root problem with looking down on the East Indians who left India as indentured laborers is that there were two choices for the Indentured Laborers: Stay in India, where they believed they had no future (thus they left), or go somewhere else and maybe get some land somewhere and have a future. The British boot remained the same. Such was the British Empire. And, while telling me that I should go and ‘lick the boots of my white masters’, I laughed outright because we were tweeting at each other in…

Guess which language?

You’re right. English.

So Indians looking down on the Indian diaspora for leaving and speaking English vary by only one thing: They stayed in India. That’s it. Now, to be fair, there are tidal pools of culture that formed in the Caribbean and South America, where subcultures formed, but at the very beginning, the chief complaint of people who come after those of Indian descent in such ways is that… they left. And with such winning personalities trolling the diaspora, I can understand why they left.

Yet.

India is not made up of those people alone. I know this because I know people from India, and while we may not agree on some things, we’re respectful and even, in some cases, fairly close friends.

facebook FossbytesYesterday, I came across a post by Fossbytes on Facebook that seemed poorly timed given the issues in Ukraine, featuring imaginative (and, I might add, impractical, at least for now) ways to conduct war by a Russian inventor, so I said as much in the comments – it was poorly timed. I don’t know the Russian inventor, I don’t know his politics, and I don’t know that he supports the invasion of Ukraine so I saw no need to jump the gun, per se. So I just said it was poorly timed given the current conflict, and of course I got trolled – I knew that going in. 

Now, here’s the thing. I’m also a FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) advocate and have been since the late 1990s. For a while, I was involved with LinuxGazette.com, I spoke at conferences in the Caribbean and Latin America and got to meet some of the more famous people involved in FOSS advocacy at the time. I wasn’t unknown, I was in that nice little comfortable zone of being known without being famous.

I decided that they may not get my message and went to the Fossbytes.com website, checked the Fossbytes.com about page and… Indian. Which got me thinking something about the very first interaction with India I had since the Ukrainian Invasion started. We’ll get to that. 

I got an email address, and sent them a friendly email about it. They haven’t responded, of course, but I did my part and decided to check up on that first interaction. 

When things were just starting up in Ukraine, like many people who saw a former colony of the USSR trying to be reclaimed by it’s former colonizer, a sovereign nation being invaded, I was trying to find ways to help out and I noted the wounded, the dead, the Ukrainians leaving Ukraine en masse and I remembered something from after the South East Asian tsunami back when I was writing for WorldChanging.com but was busy with the Alert Retrieval Cache.

In the wake of that tsunami, Indians in the affected areas wrote a brilliant piece of software for finding people after a disaster and I thought, “Well, what is a war but another form of disaster?”

 So I emailed the Sahana Foundation on March 28th about using it in assisting with refugees, etc, because it is a brilliant piece of software, or was the last time I saw it in action. To date, 10 days short of 2 months, no response.

So that’s 3 interactions, or 1 interaction and 2 attempted interactions with Indian entities regarding things related to Ukraine.

Now, I know China and India are having issues along their border, I know India and Pakistan have issues along their border (Gandhi is shaking his head somewhere, he said creating Pakistan was a mistake) , and I know India imports oil and weapons from Russia (the latter will be a neat trick with global sanctions on Russia).

I also know I have good friends of India proper.

And I know that the first interaction mentioned was that of a troll who might not be Indian, but sure seemed like it, and let’s face it, being the 2nd most populous country in the world (currently 17.7% of the global population), it’s almost unavoidable to come across someone I disagree with in India.

Fossbytes comment DahirAnd I also understand that publishers like Fossbytes.com just churn content, though they did make it a point to hail out the Russian inventor in the contents and that seemed pretty much like they knew what they were doing and pushing a bit on something they knew would be controversial. The comments in that thread certainly have their stats jumping, I’m sure, and hey, as long as the stats are jumping, publishers don’t care as long as they get the views.

There’s lots of wiggle room here. I start with assuming the best and let people lead me to their worst. This is no different.

Sahana Foundation, however, was a disappointment because their system could have been useful if they chose to. Maybe they don’t check their email. Maybe they don’t care about Ukraine. Maybe the people who check email are superglued to a toilet somewhere. I don’t know.

I do know generally speaking that when you send an email requesting information, you get a response back. Sahana – epic fail. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have shown themselves resourceful beyond measure and have developed their own stuff on the ground, which means… when this is all over… Sahana will likely be outdated instead of evolved. Software Life Cycle.

In all of these interactions, with the backdrop of India’s lack of condemnation of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine, I have to wonder how much Indian media has to do with this. I have to wonder how much the Russian echo chambers are resonating within the walls of India’s media that was browbeat by the Indian government during Covid and simply didn’t publish things that challenged the government (per a few friends in India). Or stopping exporting wheat when the globe has a wheat issue, understandable to an extent given India accounts for 17.7% of the global population and the current heat wave in India. 

Now, here’s the thing. I wrote a lot about India here, but this isn’t an Indian issue. It’s a global issue. The Ukrainian issue is a global issue. But these 3 interactions with Indian entities gave me pause.

And then I remembered the Indians serving in the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine, and it all balanced out.

It’s easy to classify people by color, race, culture, region, religion, gender, and whether they think the boiled egg should be opened from the small or large end. It’s arguably an evolutionary thing that frees our minds to, as Douglas Adams would write, advance twig technology. Yet we need to evolve beyond these things because humanity is interconnected across the globe.

We should have had a pandemic teach us that, but instead we seem to have decided to go with isolationism. So you find the voices of coherence out there, regardless of who society thinks they are, and when you’re going in the same direction you travel together. The destinations may differ, but the same direction is the same direction.

So the next time you’re thinking of grouping people together in a lazy way because they are working against you or not with you, take a breath. Just go find the ones who are going your way.

 

 

Connecting Coherence

flickr svklimkin publicdomain aug 8 2017There are two main ways that I know of to connect things: science, and art. Science tends towards linear connections, where one question leads to another and connects them. Art is not so constrained, allowing the mixing of things that aren’t necessarily the same but have some coherence. The image on the left that is titled ‘Neurons’ but is actually a picture of dandelion seeds, disconnected unlike neurons.

Scientifically, the two are not connected, but the representation allows us to ‘fill a gap’, to intuit something that is not there. While it’s wrong here – an important thing to note, since the dandelion seeds are not connected in the same way that neurons are – there is some coherence in how we perceive a flat image.  It also does something else. It opens our minds to the possibilities.

This is sort of like being comfortable or uncomfortable around people of the same skin color, culture, religion, gender and geography, regardless of how differently they view the world. Movements, even now, clash over these ‘meta’ commonalities allows us to settle into a false sense of coherence with people. The desire to fit in clashes with the desire to be an individual, and people sometimes prefer to simply ‘go with the flow’ rather than find others who are actually more coherent to who they are.

Consider this article on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “Inside the Battle On The Eastern Front“, by David Patrikarakos (contributing editor to Unherd). A very great article that he ties together at the very end – I won’t quote it because to get the full effect you need to read the article – is a matter of coherence, of what connects humanity in a way that makes the entire invasion of Ukraine by Russia look incoherent in a new way. Humanity disconnected where it shouldn’t be.

Yet the article itself is based in fact, in linearity, scientific to a great degree in reporting the subjective while being objective. It’s a story in that regard, from the guy toting around an image of Jesus Christ (go on, read the article) to… well, Kit Kats? Little touches of the world, however surreal, that connect in ways that we may not have seen all because the right person with the right observation skills and the right ability to describe them coherently was there. 

This is the way we connect islands of coherence in this world of chaos. These connections are important in understanding and connecting our worlds and making them less worlds, closer to one world of perception. That’s the challenge of our time.

Making sense of babel.

Islands of Coherence.

M42_3123 flickr no copyright BrandonGhanyFloating, seemingly disconnected, the cosmos we exist in is a map of multiple dimensions we know of. Yet it’s not disconnected. It’s a daisy chain of chemical reactions, inertia, gravity and time.

On a small planet, only important because we happen to be here, we have wide ranging ecosystems that we understand more slowly than we impact. Existing within that complexity, a mammalian species with overgrown nerve bundles generally closer to the sky than the rest of them developed civilizations that we pride ourselves on, and with these civilizations we have built complex systems that often seem to live by their own rules at the very limits of their influence, like planets that aren’t planets:

First, a body has to have established a stable orbit around the Sun. Thousands of bodies meet this condition. Secondly, a body has to have developed a spheroidal shape. When a body is sufficiently large and massive, gravity will mold it into a spheroid. Pluto fulfills this condition. Third, and finally, the body has to have cleared its debris field. It has to be sufficiently massive so as to incorporate all proximate objects into it. Pluto fails on this condition, as its orbit passes close to or even within the Kuiper Belt, a region from which short periods comets originate. By adopting resolution 5A, the IAU demoted Pluto, firmly established the other eight planets as planets, and disqualified all the bodies beyond Pluto, all in one fell swoop.


In our proud civilizations, we have people who are like Pluto to civilizations. Just far enough out of influence not to have ‘cleared their debris field’ of challenges. It’s even gotten to the point where we have civilizations that treat other civilizations that well, perhaps an indictment of our own methods as much as a necessary classification.

complex systemsSome of us feel this way about the human construct of race. Some of us feel like that about gender identities. Some of us feel that way about socioeconomics. Some of us feel that way about geography. Some of us feel that way in some way or the other. It’s part of being an individual, where being in an area of some influence means being of lesser influence in others. Pulled in different directions from different systems, complex systems and largely artificial systems that are influenced by complex natural systems… well, we’re a lot of small islands in a sea of chaos.

The source for the quote on the right is allegedly from, “From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in Physical Sciences” (1st Edition, 1981), by Ilya Prigogine. I have not found it in the text.

Who is this person? A man born in Moscow, Russia a few months before the Russian Revolution of 1917, and because his family was critical of the Soviet system, they left in 1921 for Germany, and in 1929 to Belgium where he would become a Belgium National in 1949. So before the Bolsheviks started the USSR, and because of the way the political wind was blowing, at age4 he went from Russia to Germany. At age 12, they went to Belgium – and so it’s easy to conceive that he had to forge his own identity like most Third Culture kids. How peculiar I’m quoting someone born in Moscow right now, and yet… maybe appropriate since he left at an early age.

‘Islands of coherence’. Islands that will form a whole, islands that ’emit the same waveforms and frequency’. Islands of… commonality. It’s the common things that bind us, really. Our neighbors are of the same geography, but as the world grows more granular, geography is not enough. You can have more in common with someone you have never met on the other side of the world than with the person next to you.

There are so many islands of coherence divided by so many things that it’s almost implausible that they would ever connect in a meaningful way.

What if they could?

This is meant as a reference for future things.

 

Knowprose.com, Disparate Evolution and CMS.

evolution tech smallI’ve been reflecting a bit on the future of KnowProSE.com. Part of this was because of seeing my friend’s work on Miles By Motorcycle, part of it is the root of a lot of ideas I’ve had over time, and a lot of it has come with understanding what I was trying to do, what I actually did and what I wanted to do, as well as the tools that helped me along the way.

I’ve had the domain ‘KnowProSE.com’ for decades now. I think it was since the late 1990s, but I’ll go with just calling it two decades, which translates to me being 2 decades younger, as well as Content Management System Technology being in a fledgling stage. The first sites I had were either hand built by HTML in the 1990s, some of which I still find here and there, and later I went to blogging when I started getting paid for writing – when blogging was about the blogosphere, and when voices unheard of previously defined themselves as social media to challenge more formal media. It was a fun time for most of us who were both writers and technology savvy. If you remember this period, don’t forget to schedule your colonoscopy.

Drupal was the core of KnowProSE.com for some time, and for a while it grew with Drupal in step. But then Drupal became a pain in the ass.  I’d want to log in to do one thing but ended up spending a lot of time doing updates, which was not as clean as it was when I later stopped using Drupal (to Drupal’s credit). Drupal was a contender for me at the time because I could, without a whole lot of overhead on relatively cheap hosting, do some pretty great things and I could imagine with the technology available. There was space for that. As Drupal evolved, I updated accordingly and things simply became more and more of a pain. I had grown. Drupal had grown. We grew apart. So when Bluehost.com lost my site and had no backup, and I had failed to backup recently, I just started over.

I eventually got tired of dealing with Drupal altogether – I was working with Drupal to pay the bills, Drupal broke things with every release, and my client base got a bit tired of Drupal. They weren’t wrong. On Twitter, the Drupal fans have been trying to tell me how awesome it is now, but honestly, I used to be one of the people who said that, so…

What I wanted was to simply be able to log in and write without all the Drupal chores. There are two parts of me – the technical side and the creative side, and they rarely get the chance to work together. To pay bills, you don’t get to play as much unless you’re a unicorn developer who farts rainbows. You end up doing the equivalent of, “Hello world” sort of stuff when you have enough time behind you. It gets boring, and I don’t like being bored almost as much as I don’t like having to deal with a bunch of updates when I want to focus on writing.

Is it all about me? For my websites, YES, it is all about me, because if I don’t like doing it I just ain’t going to do it. So I switched to WordPress.com, and I can now focus on the writing more for personal reasons – and RealityFragments is becoming that aspect of things for me, despite all this block nonsense they’ve hoisted on me. I just need a simple site for the writing.

But there is a part of me that wants to fiddle with those ideas that have survived the decades, and I just don’t want the Drupal overhead with all the layers of crap it comes with to be everything for the enterprise. I’m not the enterprise. I don’t want all of that.

This is what happens with technology as we grow. It either keeps pace with us and evolves with us or the disparate evolution happens, where we and the tech grow apart. With Drupal, it was also about paying the bills, but it just became too much of a pain to do that. Even now, a decade since I have looked at Drupal code, headhunters are pinging me about dealing with Drupal websites. What happened to them? Likely they hired some developers, got poor documentation, some kludgey code and when the developers left, suddenly they want someone to come in and fix the problems. That’s like paying me to stick my fingers on a door frame and slamming the door against my hand for a few bucks.

Not interested.

And so, having peeked and poked around a bit, I’m thinking of building my own CMS in Python for KnowProSE.com, which either means starting with the Django framework or not. I know Python, and this is an opportunity not just to get better at Python, but also to finally be able to get back to some of the big ideas I had behind KnowProSE.com – not necessarily good, but it’s my site and I can do what I want – and maybe keep the KnowProse.com CMS from evolving separately from what I want to do with the site.

Dead Squirrels.

2392076517_9356f45514_wYou pack, you leave, you go.
You arrive, you unpack, you stay.
This is the way I have known how to live for most of my life.
Most people stay where they live for the majority of their lives, watching time slowly change their environment – so slowly that most are unaware that their environment has changed, and that the world outside of their living area has changed. It is not a bad way to live; I have tried it and it is comfortable and reassuring to do the same things in the same places over and over. There’s a rhythm to it that lacks the urgency of connecting flights and the dodging through aggravatingly leisure humans in airports.

And then there are some of us who are most comfortable in motion, and even as we grow older we find a comfort in that motion – a familiarity of movement as we find ways to other parts of the planet. Sometimes we return to the same spots after periods of times and see what has changed, and sometimes we return to the same spots after periods of time and find nothing has changed. But we have changed, or should have.

When we stay still for however long and do not improve things in an area, however small, we have wasted that part of our life. There is a difference between running from things and running to things, and these are easily confused because even while different, they are the same and are subject only to how we view things.

We are odd little creatures, not unlike squirrels playing in a backyard, goofing off. We feel bad for the squirrel that lays in the road hit by a car because we assign some form of intentionality to it. In the end, the consequences are the same. It’s how they live that matters.

Like us. Life is for the living.

A Cast Of the Die.

20220407_141319A good adventure never takes you where you intend, and the one I have been on has become good. It wasn’t but days ago that I was staring out at the world, disgusted with the monsters who still live out there, the worst kinds. The human kind.

Oddly, it wasn’t long ago that someone I knew had died – an ex-girlfriend, one who for a brief and stunning period of time was a part of my life – and her husband messaged me out of the blue to tell me of her passing. Like most of us, she had her own demons and owned them as best she could. It was an awkward conversation for both her husband and myself, one that marked the passing of someone who was different and the same in our lives. She and I would roll 20 sided dice, much like the one to the left, and we would laugh and play silly games where we outsmarted and slew monsters. Amethyste is gone. The monsters remain.

Then there are the monsters we carry with us for a variety of reasons, the ones that leave us scarred, maybe even unfeeling in parts of our lives, and we must be ever so careful that we do not become monsters ourselves because of these blind spots. We are imperfect and it is only fitting we are: We are held to a tyranny of a normalcy that society teaches but does not practice, a contrast in what we are taught society should be and what society actually is. We may see ourselves as failures sometimes, hunching next to a comfortable fire in our caves that we have piled with the wealth and poverty, both, of our journeys. We will see ourselves as what we once were even as we allow ourselves to fade away, to recoil from the harsh contrasts between what is and what should be. Or we could dance in that hypocrisy and pretend it doesn’t matter, a flip on the allegory of the Cave, we can simply move our feet to the rhythm and have blind faith that the precipice we’re dancing toward has a soft landing if we step just right.

I chose the cave for a while.

And now, with a roll of the die, I am outside again, deeply disturbed by what I see. Everyone is shouting even though it’s pretty clear that almost no one actually understands why they are shouting other than being upset. We do not find comfort in each other because we do not find stability in each other. Some are not ashamed because they have no dignity, some are ashamed because they have too much. The world spins on, uncaring of dignity and shame, keeping the time of a rhythm that is longer than our lives. Our heartbeats are like the water rolling across river stones, making sharp edges into smooth edges over millenia.

We are inconsequential in the moment other than how we impact each other. On how we slowly allow the water to flow over us to smooth those edges, not in our lifetimes, but over generations.

It is time to awaken.

On Ukraine.

Ukrainian FlagThe war in Ukraine has been going on for over a month now. Cities destroyed, civilians killed… and in Trinidad and Tobago, in sharp contrast, 2 weeks into the war the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago suddenly decided to tell everyone that fuel prices would likely go up. The Trinidad and Tobago public was then upset about the price for Kentucky Fried Chicken Condiments, later the Will Smith and Chris Rock controversy. It’s surreal listening to people in Trinidad and Tobago and how easily they miss the important things happening even in their own country. I stopped trying to understand some time ago. There will be those that argue, but they are the minority and if they take a breath they’ll realize that.

I’ve known little of Ukraine. Truth be told, the only reason I know about the Ukraine is because someone who lives near me is from the Ukraine. I haven’t seen her and her child since the war started, and I imagine she’s likely very concerned. Maybe she has even gone back to the Ukraine to be near family, it’s hard to say – I do not know her or her husband well, but I do know that when I first met her she made it exceedingly clear she was not Russian, but Ukrainian. That got me reading the history of the Ukraine which seems to be missed by almost everyone who has an opinion on Ukraine.

When we hear about the present conflict, we hear Ukrainians talk about it going on for 8 years – when Crimea was annexed. Yet the conflict is much older, most recently when the Ukrainian’s People’s Republic was toppled and Ukraine became a part of the former USSR. And even before that, the history of Ukraine is complicated.

If you look closely enough, you find patterns. And if you look more recently, you’ll see an invasion by Russian on a sovereign nation that doesn’t want to be invaded. This, in modern history, is not new in geopolitics but it has the simplicity of being just that: A sovereign nation being invaded. Raped. Pillaged. Plundered. Why?

On Russian Aggression

PriceWarsbyRupertRussellThere’s been a lot of speculation as to why Russia has invaded. Some say it’s Putin’s want to recreate the USSR, some say that he’s ill, some say that he’s been poorly advised. The truth is that no one really knows, but one thing did leap out to me from Rupert Russell’s book, “Price Wars“. In fact, it makes so much sense that the media seems to have ignored it for some reason.

Right there is a part of the path for the EU to end dependency on Russian gas and oil, which has become a sudden emergency, with sudden interest in green energy and nuclear energy being spoken of as if these are new ideas. They aren’t. They’re just suddenly very popular because of Putin’s war. In fact, if all of this is true – I don’t know, I’m just grabbing and processing information as I find it and not jumping to conclusions – they should have been much more active in dealing with Ukraine prior to this, but… everyone fears the one who threatens with nuclear weapons. 

In fact, threatening with nuclear weapons is more effective than using nuclear weapons, because when nuclear weapons are used they start flying around and hitting everyone, including those that used them – but if you just threaten to use them, everyone else worries. Everyone is afraid of getting hit. What we forget is that so are the people who threaten to use them. Chemical, Biological… well, this millennium has already seen them used in the conflicts around the world.

In the conflict so far, Russia went for Kyiv but apparently lacked the logistics to get there (“groups of hitchhikers with Russian uniforms are rumored”, Douglas Adams might write), the air supremacy the world expected from Russia didn’t happen, and in what has moved from pleasant surprise to the equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day for Ukrainians becoming every day. World wide, people are cheering the Ukrainians, NATO’s skirting how much it can get away with in supporting Ukraine without giving Putin’s rhetoric about Russia vs. NATO, all seeming to forget that Putin seems to need NATO to prop up his rhetoric. Millions of Ukrainians displaced, talk of the plundering of Ukrainian homes and, yes, the ugly and unconscionable rape of Ukrainian women floating to the top even as Russia strategically withdraws (retreats) from forward positions to consolidate around the Black Sea… the very region mentioned with oil and gas deposits.

All the while, laws were created in Russia to keep dissident’s quiet – if not immediately, later in a prison somewhere. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press…. or… can toss people in prison.

So why do I presently think Russia invaded? Well, a look at the map and the knowledge that oil and gas deposits there would threaten Russia’s economic grip on Europe seem to make sense to me. But too, it could be that Putin was advised by a wandering gypsy that it had to happen. I don’t really know.

What I do know.

In listening to Ukrainian journalists talk on Twitter, my takeaway is that they’ve been largely ignored by those reporting on Ukraine. One journalist, well established as those in the conversation were, talked about being asked to do things for free by journalists from other countries, even under the present circumstances when if you want news from Ukraine, you should probably be listening to a Ukrainian. Contrast that with “If you want news about Russia, don’t listen to Russia. And nobody else seems to know much either!”.

I’ve been reading a lot from Ukraine, certainly their politicians – most of whom are women, with President Zelensky delivering masterful oratory across the globe, sharpened or blunted accordingly for each audience. The sanctions imposed we hear about are talked about loudly as, ‘crippling’, but how crippling can they be when the cost of the war for Russia works out to how much they’re still being paid for in oil and gas. Some nations ride the fence, like India and China, which will probably get them sore crotches.

Globalization has been a rougher ride for some than others, politics makes for strange bedfellows and this global fetish of petroleum products that some say started in 1846 when Abraham Gesner invented kerosene for lighting fluid… or the oil strike at Spindletop by Antun Lučić and Texan Patillo Higgins. 122 or 176 years, depending on how much you want to argue about it. I can’t name a war that didn’t happen in my adult life that didn’t have oil involved.

Am I right? I don’t know, but in listening to Ukrainians on Twitter, aside from what should be patently obvious war issues – if you support Russia in this, I expect you may need a ‘special operation’ – there seems to be a longstanding issue of Russian colonialism that I have been almost completely blind to, and perhaps you have as well. The colonialism and oil factors do fit together, but the oil and gas itself has not been discussed on Twitter that much which either makes it an elephant in the room no one is talking about, or a part of a larger issue (such as colonialism), or may not be something Ukrainians even consider to be the issue at all for reasons that I do not yet know or understand. And with such a horrific war going on, with informational wars going both ways (it should be clear that I do support Ukraine’s sovereignty and their repelling of invaders!), it’s clear that absolutely nothing is clear except this simple and irrefutable truth:

Ukaine is a sovereign nation with the democratic ideals that many of us have grown up with as a beacon on the horizon that we almost never see in every day life, and Russia is actively trying to not only undo it but seems intent on erasing and replacing with it’s own narrative.

Beyond Ukraine

We have seen this before in my lifetime. There is no way we can forget the invasion of Iraq, a parallel we Americans tend to forget and some would even deny. We tend to sweep Israel and Palestine under the rug too, and the mess that the world has made in Syria defies understanding. Why is this important? The United Nations, of course. Where Russia has a seat, so does the United States, and in a moment of casting stones it’s hard to look around and see Saints.

Beyond Ukraine, beyond the EU, this could well be a turning point on our planet. It could be where the International Criminal Court, which is gaining prominence in the light of the Ukrainian conflict, is more recognized. It could be that the United Nations could become more than a tired chess game of limited moves if you’re not on the Security Council. It could mean that maybe it’s time for our planet to get beyond the scarring of humanity’s puberty and get to young adulthood.

To do what is necessary for Ukraine, it seems we must do what is necessary for the world.
The price being paid in Ukraine is something that we cannot permit again, as humanity said after World War II: “Never again”.

Perhaps we will mean it this time, after Ukraine wins – they will win, they must win, and we must collectively make sure that they do.

Writing The Balance

15125228371_8d48671870_wWhen writing for the public eye, I have this odd need to mention both sides and even advocate both sides. Thus, when I wrote “The beauty of a cell tower“, even though with my background I do not personally believe there are issues with cell tower radiation, and I heard people who were voicing opinions and sharing information that were plausible and coherent. Realistically, no one has come out and said there are no issues because they can’t. We don’t know. At least some of us believe not, and at least some of us believe so. Who is right? I do not know. I acknowledge I can be wrong with my personal opinion; it is an opinion after all, and so I explored what could be researched.

As I told a friend recently over a drink, “I don’t think that there is a danger, but I imagine if I had a pacemaker in my chest I might view things differently.” That I do not have the fear does not make someone else’s fear less real. And as I sat with my morning coffee this morning and considered perspectives around me, people reaching for solid answers on a topic, it seems to me that this is a lot of what is missing in social media, and even between peoples sitting across from us. 

What was most amusing to me was that someone said the article was misinformation, when in fact there is no misinformation in there – sources are linked, and a topic explored that probably could afford to be explored more. If there is no risk with cell towers, why then doesn’t the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health say something on the topic?

It’s an inconvenient topic. As I mentioned in the article, there is a balance between progress and concerns that must be addressed and while I have an opinion, and while everyone else has an opinion, what we lack are facts. So do we become paralyzed about it? No. We should not be.

But that’s the trick with trying to present something that is balanced. People with strong opinions that cannot acknowledge that they might be wrong will accuse writing of misinformation, even gaslighting (such a popular term these days though few seem to understand it when they do it). To dismiss the fears of others without addressing them also fits ‘gaslighting’.

Vaccines are another example. I believe in general that vaccinations have value. Others are worried about what’s in vaccinations – some out of profound ignorance, some out of informed opinion, but it’s inconvenient to address both for some so they… gaslight. Rather than address the concern through knowledge and rationality, it’s easy to simply gaslight and make someone question their reality. 

Balance has value. There is room for more than one perspective on anything that we think we know or that we believe.

We Interrupt This Blog For Coffee Cups.

Coffee ArtThis morning, my last coffee cup broke. The wind outside picked up the sheets of paper under my coffee cup, knocking it off my outdoor writing perch, shattering it. It was the last of the set, and the end of my procrastination to get new coffee cups.

I’m particular about cups. I don’t like the little 8 oz thimbles that they sell. That means I have to go back and forth, soiling more spoons. No, one must have a coffee cup that one can sit with for periods of time. This requires 16 oz or better, in my experience, but those are difficult to find without having some dopey seasonal message, or some trendy saying on the cup.

In looking around today, I saw the remnants of what had been picked over for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas… and then there were the religious ones… and lo, even a “Live Love Laugh”, the wisdom of 3 words attempting to summarize a philosophy built simply to make people think the world doesn’t suck. Spoiler: The world sucks.

The pickings were slim. Covid-19 has caused all sorts of problems with getting items into Trinidad and Tobago, and coffee cups are not native. Yet I did find some, two 20 oz cups associated with The Mandalorian.

That should be the end of the post, but it’s not.

TCKSomeone I know on Facebook asked, “What are the best things you have read, watched or listened to that relates to ‘belonging’, ‘a sense of home’ and ‘estrangement’?” with the quote to the right – a quote very near and dear to me as a “Third Culture Kid (TCK)“.

Home, for me, is not what home is for others – so what I consider as a sense of belonging or home is not tied to geography.

Today, I realized at least part of it is tied to… cups. Coffee cups. Wherever I have a familiar cup, I am home. I’ve had many over the years. The earliest one I remember was from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and may be the reason for the entire association.

It was a plastic Hershey cup, it said, “Hershey’ on it, and I associated it with my parents before their divorce, before moving to Trinidad and Tobago, of freedoms that I lost when I moved, about culture shifts… it was broken in what I was told was a washing accident by my stepmother, but that never added up. It was plastic, not brittle, and the base broken. Quite a bit of drama for my 11 year old self, where no one else seemed to realize what that cup meant to someone in an alien environment, whose mother was supposed to be coming and suddenly wasn’t, whose father was acting weird at best, a stepmother I didn’t really ask for and who really didn’t seem too interested in having me around… It was the last bit of evidence that I existed somewhere else, once upon a time, in a happier place.

And, until today, I didn’t realize the significance of my cups throughout my life. When something good happened, when I achieved something… I would replace my cup, or get an additional one.

Home? A concept I’ve been trying to understand as others do.

Breaking Out.

I don’t know what’s going on in the world today. I know, but I don’t know.

It’s in my nature to try to write something productive, something that has some sort of impact however small for however small an audience. To point out wrongs, to show what would be closer to right. Yet these past few years since the pandemic started, I have been… paused. In every sentence I have found a judge.

I’ll find threads and pull on them. For example, this whole pandemic mess: Simply because it astounds people that some little virus could wreak such havoc throughout our species on the globe, we had and have people looking for something or someone to blame.

It’s the equivalent of stepping in shit in your yard and suddenly noticing the neighbor’s dog peaking through the window at you. You don’t know it was the dog, but he sure looks…. happy.

“Bastard. It must be his.”

You don’t know that, but hey, that was definitely shit.

Really, we shouldn’t be surprised, should we? Some smart people predicted it, but they also predicted a lot of stuff that wasn’t true. We have this population of humans that just keeps spreading, we keep more and people alive longer, and we’re somehow surprised that something said, “Hey, let’s take those incubators for a riiiiiiiiiiide, man….”

We’re walking ecosystems, ask any doctor- we have our own flora and fauna, and when we get out of balance, we’re sick in some way. Generally, we’re too stupid to even understand that, so caught up in this artificial ecosystem of economy, where what you can buy defines not just who you are, but how well you’re treated, how long you live, and who you have children with. Slaves to our own machine, a twist on Thoreau which isn’t a twist because we largely have become the tools of our tools.

We don’t have time to get sick. We got stupid stuff to do. Sisyphus asked you to pick up his dry cleaning. Icarus needs you to pick up some Gorilla glue.

There’s just so much going wrong to take in. People who apparently never got hit with a science book are arguing with scientists but are dismayed when atheists who have been repeatedly hit with religious texts argue with the religious. It’s a ridiculous society we have. Where are the real critics of society? Where are the people who were supposed to be keeping us honest, or at least within spitting distance of honesty?

Where do we even start?

Where do I even start?

Well. I have a few ideas.