High, low, yo: 25.07.15

I’m trying something out here, so bear with me. In my effort to be a better blogger and to concentrate on writing, which has been wandering of late, I want to start a more regular feature. High, low, yo will comprise of three small parts: a high point in the news (a genuinely good news story or schadenfreude), a low point (self-explanatory) and yo – something that happened to me in the day. Let’s begin.

Low

Sadly, another day begins with another shooting in America. It’s a tragedy with heroes, an obvious villain and a clear cut solution. Well, to everyone on the outside, it appears obvious but progress is non-existent. 

For this latest awful shooting, it appears that the immediate cause is a deep-seated misogyny, yet that doesn’t explain the ease with which John Houser was able to buy a gun. The underlying cause helps to explain the anger motivating the murderers, however we cannot keep palming off these tragedies into the outskirts of excuses: ‘he was racist’ – yes but there are many racists who do commit murder; ‘he was anti-feminist’ – ditto; ‘he was religiously confused’ – ditto ditto. All of these have a common theme running through them which is the ready access to guns. Remove the guns to save the lives. Which is easier said than done when the monolithic second amendment stands in the way. Confounded by an 18th Century piece of paper.

High

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has spent £31,400 on travel expenses between 2010-2013. It should also not be forgotten that Speaker Bercow was meant to be a disinfectant, cleaning Westminster up from the stench of the expenses scandal. Whilst he may not be fiddling his expenses in the same way as he predecessor, it does make me question the prices that the chauffeur cars are charging and how I can become involved in that racket.

Yo

I met Lola and Sophia, my twin ‘first cousins once removed’ (an ugly turn of phrase, if e’er there was one) for the first time. Both had almond eyes that were intently gazing on their surroundings, taking it all in, studying every face, toy and movement as if it’s a work of art. Yet to a couple of 8 month olds, it is art. There is nothing more important and interesting than their own wiggling fingers. Plus, it appears that fart noises are universally funny.

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Visual memory

The husband opened his eyes wider

He needed to comprehend his wife’s beauty

His mind’s eye needs to see her as clearly as he can now

Every fleck of her eye

The line of her nose

The contours of her lips

All needed to be etched into permanence.

He was scared that someday it would be forgotten

He was scared as to how it would be forgotten

He imagined chiseling each feature into sculptor’s stone

This will take time, but masterpieces so often do.

“Why are you staring at me?” she asked, before walking off.

Ten Lessons and Carols about New York

I write this in a new continent. In November, V and I moved across to New York, where we will call the city our base for a few years. Since we moved, I have been meaning to keep a journal of our adventures but things (living, working, eating, walking) got in the way.

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As we are coming up to our two month marker for living in New York and as 2014 exits stage left, it is time to take stock and look at what we’ve learnt:

  1. Shopping requires spreadsheets and the patience of 12 saints to try and get the best deal possible. Either that or the contentment to throw money up the wazoolah.
  2. Waffles are good at any time of the year, any time of the day.
  3. New York apartment designers forgot about kitchens and added them as an afterthought. Ditto with laundry.
  4. Realtors here are as useless as anywhere else in the world
  5. The subway may never arrive; it may be just around the corner. Who knows? There is no information at all.
  6. Being able to see a traffic jam does not preclude the honking of one’s horn
  7. If there is a person that can be inserted into a transaction, there will be. Of course, all taking their share.
  8. Small popcorn is a UK large; US large is a UK swimming pool
  9. Everyone in the city dresses effortlessly and yet looks impeccable. Everyone, that is but you.
  10. At all costs, always avoid the empty subway carriage…

So, What Should I Do With Myself?

I am now rapidly approaching that time in life, where I would like to know what I am going to do with my life.

Some people are lucky; they knew ever since they were knee-high to a millipede that they wanted a life more ordinary and trained to be a lawyer or an accountant. Sadly, I never had and still don’t have such a luxury. I know which paths I do not want to go down (deep sea diver, bus driver, gynecologist), but at the same time, my desires are either vastly unworkable (speech writer for the President of the United States (I watched too much of the West Wing)), or just extremely vague: I would love to work from home or be my own boss. Yet when it comes to working out the ‘what’ is, my mind wanders onto issues far more mundane. So that leaves me with a yearning to do a rather intangible ‘something’, an insatiable itch that seems destined to remain unscratched. I am prepared for action but just not sure what I should be doing.

I have interests; sure there are things that I love and am fascinated by, but either I don’t know how to make a career from them, or my skills aren’t matched to it. Take politics for instance; regular readers (splutter) know it is one of the main passions in my life, but it is populated for the most part, by singularly egocentric, career focused, business jargon spouting blandards (ironically, those that don’t understand the concept of public service), so not the kind of atmosphere I want to be a part of.

Being a freelance researcher, would be the best extension of that; having the freedom to be your own boss, whilst engaging with fascinating ‘stuff’ every day. But, like so many other things, it is nepotistic to the hilt and, understandably enough, potential clients would like to know that you have experience in the industry before they hire you.

In essence, I am left with nothing save from my education and my smiling face, which isn’t enough to hang a hat on, let alone build a career around. So if anyone does have an idea or suggestions on where to go from here, or would just like to invest in me (…), I am open.

On Food Blogging

I wish I could be a food blogger; it looks so much fun, what with all the pictures, the laughter, the bon-homie amongst like-minded individuals and not to mention the food! The festival of colours and imagined smells are a treat for the senses. It makes me dream of a large, country kitchen with friends dropping by unannounced but as a domestic God it is OK because I’ve just made some mango and mint macaroons (I’m doing an alliteration month then, I would imagine). And we would be laughing. Always laughing.

But this aspirational image will never be matched by any experience of cooking that I’ve been through so far. Firstly, there is never any mention of mess and/or washing up. Is this just a localised problem that only I suffer? Or do other people just not see it as a problem worth mentioning, just a statement of the obvious?

Secondly is the expense. Food costs money. Good food costs good money. I don’t have good money. Therefore I don’t get good food. Life is tough.

Thirdly: time. I get home at 7:30 every night and the thought of spending a long while making a new recipe makes my soul tired, so I usually trot out the Greatest Hits. Also my girlfriend would be complaining louder than a buzz saw at how long everything was taking, so I relent.

Fourth and finally, my palate isn’t the most sophisticated in the world, it recognises key flavours of ‘chicken’, ‘tomato’ and ‘hot’ but sadly I lack the ability to work out which field a specific broccoli came from. I am not sure if this comes with time, or even with eating in a slightly different way, or maybe I have to chew more. But either way, the subtle flavours of most recipes worth trying would be lost on my neanderthal taste buds, so I don’t bother.

But apart from time, cost, and lack of skills, I would love to blog about food, so any tips as to how to do it, would be most welcome. But most of all, I am craving the laughter. Oh, the laughter.

Evolution of All Things

The ascent of man hardly paints a scintillating picture of evolution; the figures are all heading toward the same gloomy path in a manner that is only comparable to the average resident of Grimsby. In addition, the insistence by Richard Dawkins to rationalise every aspect of human life that in turn has changed the absence of belief into a rabid, proselytising non-religion.

But reason and rationality holds no sway with Creationism, instead they imagine a hugely more enjoyable pre-modern existence allowing humans and dinosaurs to coexist (who doesn’t want to nip down to the local Co-op on the back of a Triceratops?). Creationism also casts God in a similar role to Richard O’Brien circa The Crystal Maze, setting traps and tests for all humans, which combines the belief in the impossible with the egotism of a minor celebrity.

This glib dressing belies a serious point, that evolution requires more belief than the other alternatives. It’s easy to have a fully enclosed system of being when the answer to all questions is God, but the quest for knowledge requires patience and an understanding that not everything has or will have an answer. My jaw is constantly agog when I meet people who don’t believe evolution, not because  I am a thought-dictator (well, I am to some extent), but because of their selective need for evidence. To point out the holes in evolution, most of which are a sad indictment of basic science education only to unsubscribe when it comes to proving their own can only be called hypocritical.

But these fickle dalliances with rationality are to be expected from all religions; love thy neighbour as long as they don’t show an over-active interest in interior design; be good and be admitted into heaven/Valhalla only if you believe that type of God; freedom of speech and liberty is permitted as long as it doesn’t hurt the feelings of the Almighty God.

Science in the end has been undone by its own definitions, or inherent lack of. As with any academic area, the need to be precise is key, but the ability to create a comprehensive definition that withstands the test of time is an impossibility. A theory must stay a theory as the continual quest for knowledge can support it one day but render it as useless as Ed Miliband in the Daily Mail HQ the next. Whilst evolution is thus far scientifically proven, the research spanning multiple different fields could raise fundamental questions as to its validity, but instead dubbing it blasphemous and burying them, they will form the centrepiece of new studies and further explored. The scientific belief in reason seeks to question all we know; the religious belief in the unknown questions reason itself.