Calling him back from layoff
I called a man today. After he said
hello and I said hello came a pause
during which it would have been
confusing to say hello again so I said
how are you doing and guess what, he said
fine and wondered aloud how I was
and it turns out I'm OK. He
was on the couch watching cars
painted with ads for Budweiser follow cars
painted with ads for Tide around an oval
that's a metaphor for life because
most of us run out of gas and settle
for getting drunk in the stands
and shouting at someone in a t-shirt
we want kraut on our dog. I said
he could have his job back and during
the pause that followed his whiskers
scrubbed the mouthpiece clean
and his breath passed in and out
in the tidal fashion popular
with mammals until he broke through
with the words how soon thank you
ohmyGod which crossed his lips and drove
through the wires on the backs of ions
as one long word as one hard prayer
of relief meant to be heard
by the sky. When he began to cry I tried
with the shape of my silence to say
I understood but each confession
of fear and poverty was more awkward
than what you learn in the shower.
After he hung up I went outside and sat
with one hand in the bower of the other
and thought if I turn my head to the left
it changes the song of the oriole
and if I give a job to one stomach other
forks are naked and if tonight a steak
sizzles in his kitchen do the seven
other people staring at their phones
by Bob Hicok, from Insomnia Diary. © University of Pittsburgh Press.
Calling him back from layoff
Posted by Bushel Basket
While I the title of this article is a bit hyperbolic, it does make a good point. Read it.
Like many nerds, I was quite impressed by the movie X-Men: First Class. It is easily the best movie in the X-Men franchise. What has impressed me almost as much as the movie itself are the number of reflections that I've seen regarding the justice issues in the movie and parallels with contemporary issues.
It's no secret that the struggle for mutant rights in the X-Men franchise has parallels with the civil rights, women's rights, and the gay rights movements. As a straight white male geek, this franchise gives me another way to talk to my people about the struggle for equal rights that goes around a lot of the stubbornness that comes with privilege. There are many entry points, like looking at Professor X and Magento as parallels for Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, or the idea of being "outed" as a mutant as an example of being in the closet as a homosexual.
If exploring this film from the perspective of equality and justice interests you, I have come across some stimulating reviews. The first is from Ars Marginal, and reflects on the movie from the perspective of a person of color and a homosexual. The second is from Comics Worth Reading, and has a section that talks about women's rights in the film. The third is a review of the movie by a psychologist blogging on Psychology Today, exploring some of the psychological theories that come up in the movie. While the movie does revolve around issues of equality, it is not a film that achieved equality in it's production.
SPOILER ALERT: Don't read further if you haven't seen the movie.
It is a pretty white washed cast, with the one black character predictably dying soon after he is introduced, and the one latina character quickly siding with the "bad guys". The treatment of woman in the film is not that impressive. It is a period piece in the 60's, so some sexism is to be expected for accuracy's sake if not condoned, but for all the concern about mutant rights, even the mutant leaders are pretty backwards when it comes to gender issues. There is little overt reference to homosexuality in the film, though the interaction between Professor X and Magneto has long had homo-erotic overtones. Read this review for a further exploration of this idea.
END SPOILER ALERT
In short, this film is quite enjoyable and can provide great fodder to talk about justice issues with individuals who might not otherwise think about such things. But, it's easy to ask, "who was right, the Professor or Magneto?" without raising too many hackles, at least initially.
Postponing Our Real Life
The necessary obligations which we feel we must meet grow overnight, like Jack's beanstalk, and before we know it we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained, breathless and hurried, panting through a never-ending program of appointments. We are too busy to be good wives to our husbands, good homemakers, good companions of our children, good friends to our friends, and with no time at all to be friends of the friendless.
But if we withdraw from public engagements and interests, in order to spend quiet hours with the family, the guilty calls of citizenship whisper disquieting claims in our ears. Our children's schools should receive our interest, the civic problems of our community need our attention, the wider issues of the nation and of the world are heavy upon us. Our professional status, our social obligations, our membership in this or that very important organization, puts claims upon us.We're weary and breathless. And we know and regret that our life is slipping away, with our having tasted so little of the peace and joy and serenity we are persuaded it should yield to a soul of wide caliber. The times for the deeps of the silences of the heart seem so few. And in guilty regret we must postpone till next week that deeper life of unshaken composure in the holy Presence, where we sincerely know our true home is.
When Lloyd George, the British statesman, was a boy, one of his family responsibilities was to collect firewood for warmth and for cooking. He discovered early that always after a very terrific storm, with high winds and driving rain, he had very little difficulty in finding as much, and more, wood than he needed at the time. When the days were beautiful, sunny and the skies untroubled, firewood was at a a premium. Despite the fact that the sunny days were happy ones for him, providing him with long hours to fill his heart with delight, nevertheless, in terms of other needs which were his specific responsibilities, they were his most difficult times. Many years after, he realized what had been happening. During the times of heavy rains and driving winds, many of the dead limbs were broken off and many rotten trees were toppled over. The living things were separated from the dead things. But when the sun was shining and the weather was clear and beautiful, the dead and the not dead were indistinguishable.
The experience of Lloyd George is common to us all. When all is well with our world, there is often no necessity to separate the "dead" from the "not dead" in our lives. under the pressure of crisis when we need all available vitality, we are apt to discover that much in us is of no account, valueless. When our tree is rocked by mighty winds, all the limbs that do not have free and easy access to what sustains the trunk are torn away; there is nothing to hold them fast.
It is good to know what there is in us that is strong and solidly rooted. It is good to have the assurance that can only come from having ridden the storm and remained intact. Far beside the point is the why of the storm. Beside the point, too, may be the interpretation of the storm that makes of it an active agent of redemption. Given the storm, it is wisdom to know that when it comes, the things that are firmly held by the vitality of the life are apt to remain, chastened but confirmed; while the things that are dead, sterile or lifeless are apt to be torn away. The wheat and tares grow up together, but when the time of harvest comes, only wheat is revealed as wheat - and tares remain what they have been all along, tares.
Howard Thurman "The Pressure of Crisis" in Meditations of the Heart, pg 139-140
Today was harder than I expected, and I was buffeted in unexpected ways. In the process of figuring out what was broken free, what was revealed, and what branches remain. And wishing for a nice bonfire.
Posted by Bushel Basket
In watching the debates progress over the proposed budget in Washington, the attempt to break collective bargaining for state employees in Washington and many other economic harbinger of doom stories, I can't help but feel that something is being missed. I feel that a lot of the fear and angst over the economic woes in our country is presented in a way to artificially divide people into social classes who would be natural allies. Liberals, tea partiers, unemployed, middle class, conservatives, progressives, and so on.
This isn't to say there aren't differences but that those differences are being magnified to distract the people from the fact that we can agree on many, if not most things. We all want to feel stable and secure in our homes, jobs, and country. We know that the way of life that we have known is changing and it is frightening. The United States, the world's only remaining military superpower is having to confront that fact that it is no longer the only economic superpower. But out of that fear of change, we point at each other as the cause, instead of the larger economic forces.
To end this distraction campaign, I'm asking for people to start working together and encouraging one another to make the changes we can agree on. I'm calling them "Put Up or Shut Up" moments. If you want to be taken seriously, it is no longer enough to yell about a group that you don't agree with, but to help people make informed choices that will lead to real change.
So, here is my first "Put Up or Shut Up" suggestion. One of the causes of the financial crisis that we are in was the irresponsible behavior of the banking and lending industries. Instead of just waiting for the government to do something about this, there is one thing each of us can do to make an impact. Join a local credit union. They treat you better, your money stays in the community to help benefit others, and you can often get better rates. Go to http://moveyourmoneyproject.org/ to learn more.
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Other Websites Worth Visiting
- Anti-Advertising Agency
- EcoGeek: Technology for the Environment
- Life Hackery: Useful, Unusual, and (sometimes) Ironic Tips and Tricks to Hack Your Life into Shape
- Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest
- Skeptic's Annotated Bible
- Superuse.org: Where Recycling Meets Design
- The Brick Testament: The World's Largest, Most Comprehensive Illustrated Bible
- WikiHow: The How-to Manual That You Can Edit