Fair Weather Friend

I am a fair weather friend when it comes to politics, to put it bluntly. I love politics and have studied it for many years but there are times when I have to check in my badge and take a break. Have you ever seen a week like we've just had in Washington? Everyday seems to bring more bad news. Add that to the bombing in Boston, the rescue of the women in Cleveland and on and on and it wipes me out. I get overwhelmed. It seems most two term presidents have trouble in their second terms. I hoped this administration would be different but apparently that is not going to be the case. I at least hoped for more time before the big hit. That is apparently not going to happen either. So much for hoping. I'm going to step back a little, read some books on subjects other than politics, and watch the political drama from a distance for the time being. Our children are in Japan so for the next three weeks we'll be going to their home twice a day to care for their four cats. Bob will have cataract surgery on december 20. Company arrives on december 24. Summers seem to bring added activity. I'll still be around. I just need to step back a little to catch my breath. Almost forgot, Marry Christmas!

Ina Vanba Dariva Honey - 2

One of the things that I do when I get in this phase is go back and read old stuff I wrote, and as usual I can’t recognize my own voice out of any of it. I use bigger words than I think I know. I somehow parse these sentence structures and architectonics of reasoning that upon re-reading cause me to go what? Is that me? I don’t recognize that guy. I feel stupid, preverbal. I’ve been in this state of wordless emotion for so long that I almost feel as if I don’t even know my own language any more. I can’t remember if I know anything, or if I have anything to say, or if I’m good at anything in particular. When I was passing through passport control the officer asked me what I do for a living. (Hello America! Back to the madhouse! I’m from here, plus I’ve been unemployed forever anyway, whose job would I steal?". But instead what I said was, "uh... I’m a writer". Which is pretty much my stock answer. That’s what I told this sort of local wiseman / leader / entrepreneur back in country when he asked me the same question. He pressed for what kind of writing and I said "uh... web content" Meanwhile my american host over there played a funny trick on me I’m still kind of reeling from in which she introduced me to a local important person as a "great poet". He responded to this information by asking me how many books I had published. No matter which country I’m in I still kind of feel like the big joke’s on me. My work is to figure out how to laugh instead of cry. So there you have it friends. Glad to be back. I’ll try to update more frequently in the coming days.

Ina Vanba Dariva Honey

That’s a rock joke. If you are not familiar with rock music of the previous century it may be meaningless to you. And that’s okay (and that’s a reference to sen. Al Franken’s old day job) but I digress. As usual. So where to start, I paid my first visit to the other hemisphere’s so-called "developing world" over the past week and a half. I’m still recalibrating my digestive tract. But it’s given me a lot to think about. One of the things is that there’s nothing romantic or noble about poverty, which I knew already having some experience with it, but seeing where people pay the cost of our lifestyles sort of drives it home. Nobody wants to be poor, really. Unable to get clean water to drink. Treated like shit by obnoxious white tourists. Children dying all around of preventable diseases which are the direct result of arbitrary political factors such as poverty, which is a direct result of capitalism. Y’know, stuff like that. But you also see how normal it is to live a simple life because the majority of people in the world live that way, and the sick, insane way we live over here is really thrown into stark relief. And yet again, a powerful realization of that does not take away a concurrent realization of the beauty of this place, just as noticing the suffering there did nothing to take away from the beauty. America really is beautiful. Not because of anything we did, or did to deserve it.

Save the Economy, Save the Children

Create the 8th Grade year Small Business Practicum to be available to all students in public schools. The first week will be one of general discussion of what is involved in starting and maintaining a business. Students will then brainstorm about what kind of business they want to start. Interspersed are exercises to get everyone to know one another's abilities, skills, strengths, weaknesses, dedication, determination, interactive styles and personality characteristics. The students are then assigned to research possible business options, which might best succeed in their environment, local needs that can be addressed, the resources needed to make their business a success. As the year goes on, the business is formed and maintained. Students are offered ways of locating resources to help them learn what they need to do along the way. A multi-disciplinary advisor group of teachers makes suggestions and are available for consultation and skills training. Local business people are recruited as consultants and to give guest lectures to the class. The students decide how any profits are to be distributed. After the class year, any students who wish to may continue their businesses. 

They are also welcome to give guest lectures and act as advisors to subsequent classes. Any graphic artists who would like to collaborate on my as yet graphic-less "graphic novel"? Without the graphics, it is merely a novelette. Any poetry more performers who would like to perform my poem, "strangling heaven"? Any performance group who would like to perform my piece "Gaea"? Any visionary artists who would like to submit work to Emerging Visions visionary art ezine title: "Jung Heart"? Watch for the next call, expected shortly after the Solstice, for Emerging Visions visionary art working theme title: Jung at Heart hopefully emerging in deepest November (or the early light of December). The working theme title for "Jung at Heart". I find it easier to work the collage with a running theme. They are usually associated with the astrological influence at the time of "emergence" of the issue. Leo rules youth and heart. What I am hoping to get are works relating to fairytales, youth archetypes, playfulness, creativity, childlike wonder, and such. If you have something for the issue, please do send it.

That Feeling

The feeling of approaching autumn fills me with joy. Company is gone until next year, fall items are out in the stores, the weather forecast is for cooler temperatures, daylight arrives later each day and sunset earlier. I do love that feeling. A few days ago I thought I was coming down with something like a cold and went to the medicine chest only to find the aspirin expired in 2012, the Tylenol in 2013, and a dead battery in the thermometer. The battery has been replaced and we decided to buy very small bottles of aspirin and Tylenol. We obviously don't do well with bottles of 500. After reading the All Fingers and Thumbs blog this morning I sighed and said to myself "I know that feeling." It brought a smile to my face.

From Persephone's Journal: The Economy - 2

There are plenty of people who have no desire to be part of the quest for financial wealth, yet give full value to the social net. Raising children is valuable work. Caring for ill and infirm family and neighbors is valuable work. Organizing and participating in volunteer projects addressing community needs is valuable work. Providing education, art, cultural events is valuable work. Yet it is also legitimate to live, enjoy life as best one can, privately, without fanfare or public obligation. Humankind is so much better served by people pouring energy and intent into their passions than people grudgingly performing jobs out of obligation or desperation. If there is concern about less appetizing but necessary work being done, there are certainly ways to address this: What is unappetizing to some may be interesting or useful in some sense, psychology or other to others. 

This is another advantage of a diverse population, when properly celebrated; Ways can be found to reward, show admiration for, or otherwise make more palatable such tasks; Ways can be found to give over as much as possible of these tasks to technological aid; We can figure out better ways to take care of the needs now served by such tasks. The best incentive, result and means of moving toward this expanded economic model is the unleashing and uplifting of the great gift of human creativity, along with a generally increased zest for life. It doesn't have to happen all at once. If we consciously make efforts in this direction, eventually the tipping point will be reached, the more rational paradigm will take hold. As the benefits become evident, that which is best in us will continue to move forward.

From Persephone's Journal: The Economy

All this talk about "the economy" as if there's a war between capitalist free market and governmental programs, or as if any policy could be one size fits all. People get so caught up in ideologies and competition, putting down viciously any idea defensively seen as contrary to our preset mindset. Well, obviously, not everyone, but enough to be an enormous unnecessary obstacle to real world optimization. What makes more sense to me is a kind of two-tier economy. You've got your basic tier in which everyone gets a piece of the pie covering whatever is deemed to be the basics. This sphere can also include basic infrastructure like public health facilities, public transportation including national roads, highways, turnpikes and such, public safety organizations like emergency and law enforcement, or more rationally peace enforcement. Then there's public education, libraries, art and culture centers and events. 

The second tier would be the free market capitalists to provide the goods and services they do best, consumer goods, luxuries, lifestyle and status markers, specialty niche fillers, fads and fancies and fantasies and innovations. People will want to go beyond the basic and fulfill dreams or create profits because there is more to human satisfaction than basic comforts. We like to shine, be respected, show our stuff. We like to earn credits to win prizes. We like to build our personal empires or be part of exciting or valued projects. We like to work when that work is appreciated and not oppressive. We are not in a position, even in impoverished areas, where we need to live by the creed: If you don't work, you don't eat. We have plenty of potential labor to provide far more than enough for everybody without demanding full participation.

What makes Gyaru?

Every third people keeps telling that fat people can't be gals. Or black people. Or the ugly ones. At the same time the other ones says that you can't be gal without circle lenses, heavy makeup, false lashes, brand clothes big hair or something. Still some people buy their clothes from local stores, have straight hair, no lenses and not much makeup at all and they're gals. Some people have this all but aren't. I'm wondering what makes gyaru. I've allways been thinking that gyaru is a social sommunity as much as it's a style. Maybe the community is even more important. I don't think it's possible to be gyaru outside Japan. You can wear the same kind of clothes or makeup, have own circle etc but it'll never be the same. As much some people want to be gals I think they're just copying the style. They can do it well and look the same as their japanese idols but gyaru is in the attitude and the way you see the life - not in clothes. So, what's gyaru and what's the difference between them and "regular people". Sometimes when I'm looking at the Popteen or Ageha my answer is nothing. When I look at some of the outfits in the magazines and compare them with the ones I see everyday at school I see no difference. Jeans, tartan shirt, hair... Everything looks the same exept makeup. And still I know that none of the guys in my school have never even heard a word gyaru. Is there any matter of being gal in west if you look the same as the other girls who have no idea what gyaru even is?

What i'm trying to say is that if I see manba in the street I see gal. I think "wau, she's doing a great style". Then I see a blond girl with curled hair next to her. She looks very stylish. She doesn't have circle lenses or strong makeup but I'm pretty sure she's wearing Ank Rouges shirt. I don't know if she's gal or not. Is she just normal stylish girl who has gyaru friend and shirt from gyaru brand? Or is she actually in gyaru? Never knows.But still if I see japanese gal I know that she is gal. Even if she'd wear school uniform or something. What's the point of being gyaru? Why people need to prove that they're gals? Why they can't just be pretty girls with big hair, stylish clothes and nice makeup? Rockers are rockers and punkers are punkers but gals are not gals. It doesn't make any sense. I think the problem is that none of us really don't know what western gyaru is and what it should be alike. We have thousands of opinions and none of us can't tell who's right and who's wrong. We can't tell that 'cause there're no standards for being western gal. My personal opinion is that everyone can do gyaru as a style but there's a big diffenrence between you and the community saying that you you're a gal. You can feel youself gyaru. You can take lots of inspiration from style. You can even wear gyaru brands and gyaru stylish makeup. But in the end it's up to western gyaru community if "you're gyaru or not". Ok this text propably didn't make any sense but I felt that I needed to tell you some my thoughts. I'd love to hear you opinions.

Making our Education Work - 2

We have to do a radical change in the way we go about the business of education in this country if we want it to transform our nation. We have to make sure our education unlocks the power and potential within the student way beyond just bagging First Class degrees, but to the point where the student sees himself as first adding value to the society before earning money with that degree. We have to encourage students to acquire broader knowledge beyond just what their course is, and even go beyond the traditional career options of their discipline. The most important thing in the world today is that one is providing value in what he/she does, and not about what he/she studied. Gone are those days where an engineering student must be a practicing engineer; the notion is as archaic as the Industrial Age. The solutions can come from random places, and not even what was learned formally in school. What matters most, nay, all that matters is that whatever he is doing is something beneficial to others first... 

Then profitable to himself. As much as I know that the Nigerian business environment is a very tough one, it is not impossible to achieve this. As a matter of fact, the type of solutions that will be created will even take advantage of the business environment. This is where the power of local knowledge comes into play. There will always be problems and challenges requiring solutions. What we need most is problem-solvers; solution-providers; change-workers. We need people who are creating solutions to problems and also to make a living out of it. It is the combination of the two that forms entrepreneurship, be it business or social (non-profit). Most especially, we need these people now if we are to lift ourselves from the economic pit we find ourselves: young people who will be possessed by ideas that they believe will change their world and solve problems and finding ways to achieve it.

Making our Education Work

One of the grimmest realities of life in Nigeria is that there are not enough jobs to go round or available. This reality a lot of times is hidden to undergraduates who finish school filled with hope of securing employment immediately, especially from major firms or the Federal Government. But in a country where half a million university graduates are churned out each year and less than 100,000 jobs created annually, that dream comes to reality for only those at the top of their class or in our quite nepotistic world, to those who have connections or are favoured. This isn’t entirely the failure of the economy, but more a failure of our educational systems and societal mind-sets. In Nigeria, we are more concerned with the attainment of degrees and amassing of titles via education rather than truly learning and using that knowledge to provide solutions to contemporary problems. While I was thinking about this scenario, I came across this blog post that captured it excellently. The post described African intellectuals as "lazy scum", which I quite agree with, minus the somewhat harsh description. There is a serious lacuna in our society between being educated and applying that knowledge to add value through creating solutions. The typical Nigerian graduate knows only what he has been taught, and that which he learned more or less by rote memory. It is a classic case of garbage-in, garbage-out. He has no idea of how to use it by himself...

To solve the problems prevalent in his environment. Unless this gulf is bridged, Nigerian graduates would continue to find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to employment opportunities. This is because the creation of solutions to problems in an environment adds value to that environment, and once value is created and it is in demand, a job has been created. This is the first step to creating entrepreneurs or job creators out of our Nigerian students. It is not so much a function of updating the curricula of our schools to world-class standards, as much as it is of teaching them to use the knowledge learnt in classrooms and workshops and labs, combined with the local knowledge around them to craft solutions to problems. It also requires a paradigm shift in the mind-sets of the students themselves. Like I always tell people, there is always, always something you can do in your immediate environment that can solve a problem, and in the long-run provide you with a job. This mental shift comes with the realization that there aren’t just enough jobs out there, and there might not be one for you unless you create yours. Moreover, the energy that is unlocked within you when you feel like you have the Holy Grail of energy to a contemporary problem is much more satisfying than a routine job, even more than one that just requires sitting at a desk all day.

Jest to Fact

For some time now I've been saying in jest that it isn't safe to go to the grocery store anymore because you never knew who you'll brush up against carrying a loaded weapon. I no longer say that in jest, it's now a fact. Yesterday two customers argued in the check out line of a grocery store here. One of the arguing parties took out his gun and shot the other in the leg. Now I ask you, was that smart? Yes the shooter had a licence to carry a concealed weapon. Should he have had such a licence? When will America learn to leave guns at the city limits? As long as guns are allowed on city streets and buildings, law enforcement, emergency rooms, surgeons and funeral homes will have job security.

Dreams are Illustrations from The Book your Soul is Writing about You

I wasn't really sure where I was going exactly, but I had a general sense of the direction I wanted to go. I went up stairs in to a train station, but I should have walked down the hill to the road. I'd been walking around for a long time. A man said something to me, I think he was a teacher or authoritative figure of some sort. It seemed he had a go at me for some reason but I can't remember what he said, except that I snapped. He just didn't get it and he didn't know me. I was wandering, looking for something desperately. Maybe it was something to help my brother. Maybe I was just looking for answers. Either way, I searched aimlessly, knowing that I wouldn't find it. Especially now that I was lost. I felt resigned and defeated. Hopeless. A train was pulled into the station, so I got on it. But when it started, it ended up going in the opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I thought I should probably get off at the next station, then wait for a train in the other direction, so I would be going the right way. I moved down the front of the carriage, closer to the driver. I realised then that the train wasn't on any tracks, in fact it seemed more like a bus - the driver was driving it on roads, through the city. 

He was actually steering it. When we stopped, I told him of my plans and asked him how long it would be until another train came along. I had no idea where I was, so I wasn't relishing the thought that I might have to wait for hours for the next train in the other direction. But he didn't answer me, and I moved to get off, but there were other seats hemming me in, there weren't any aisles. Then I looked around and was stunned and panicked when I realised the train also didn't have any doors or exits. Just long, wide, sealed glass windows and walls. I called out to the driver: "How do I get off?". He seemed to know I wanted to but was still waiting. He told me that I had to stay in my seat, that a mechanical mechanism of some sort would arrive to bodily lift the entire seat out of the train to exit me on to the road. I could only wait, I was trapped after all. It appeared everyone knew this was how the new trains worked, and I felt naive, inexperienced, freaked out. So I waited. And I woke up. Those who have compared our life to a dream were right. We sleeping wake, and waking sleep. Michel de Montaigne, Essays, 1580.

Principle Nixes every Book in the Library for e-readers - 2

Once a book is published it can only disappear if it's burned, all the e-readers need to do is catch a virus or miss an upgrade and it's useless. The entire move seems ridiculous. Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a "learning center", though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine. This is a prep school so I guess the charge of elitism is a cheap shot, but in this case they deserve it, and I use that term with a focus on being out of touch with reality. I honestly doubt kids are going to curl up with Twilight or even Anna Karenina at a coffee shop with their e-reader.