Of Birds, Barack and Tying the knot (again).

So what I meant to say last Tuesday was:-

Our touristy Sunday was heavily inspired by my friend Kate who is particularly adept at “getting out” at the weekends and doing all manner of interesting things in her own backyard. I suspect DH was initially not overly keen but came away with a healthy interest in all things feathered (and not Las Vegas showgirls). We did pick the warmest day to be about and about – a sizzling 37 deg Celsius and some of the smaller birds did look to be panting – perhaps panting is perhaps an anomaly in terms rather gripping the wire fence with their beaks open and looking distinctly steamy. The amount of security in place at the park is a sad testament of humanitys’ greed as I believe the illegal trade in birds has reached epidemic proportions. The park is also involved with breeding endangered cranes and in the “baby room” the sweetest little (what I believe to be) macaw was in the window watching the world go by.

  

“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form. ” –William Ralph Inge

–          I have been struck of late by the amount of vitriol being levied at Barack Obama. He was classed as the all conquering hero when he first came to power yet now he is the neighbourhood pariah. Two things in particular strike me (oh yes, just for clarity as a non US citizen I really don’t give a tinkers doo da who rules the roost) :-

(a). He inherited a shit storm when took over from the war mongering George Bush – a country at war and huge economic debt. Can somebody make a cognisant suggestion as to how he gets out of Iraq/Afghanistan? If he pulls out completely now he will be labelled as deserting a country in turmoil and if he stays there he will be accused of costing more American lives and money – damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

(b). How do you implement economic policy in an effective manner when it can be halted (whether for better or worse) by the other side without so much as a second thought for what’s best for the country.

– We are going to a family wedding in December – his second, her third. They are very comfortable financially and literally have everything that opens and shuts. What to do for a wedding gift? My friend and colleague Rose (yes she of the Fruit Squares) came up with the idea of supporting the My Acre of Africa Foundation (basic info here as the website is under maintenance). Doable I think – something that is personal and has longevity? Thoughts anyone?

PS I’ve just had a call from DH to say his mother’s car (a very old VW Beetle – original shape) is parked outside our local pub on fire (she’s fine, I asked). I didn’t know whether to ask what set the car off or why she was outside the pub in the first place – I will say it again, Monday’s have a tendancy to be just that little extra weeny smidge left of centre!

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The quest for equality

Not a political rallying cry, not a question of colour or religion – it’s all about sex.

Why does your physical make-up still have such a huge impact on your existence? From Florence Nightingale to Emmeline Pankhurst – From Marie Curie to Germaine Greer – each of these unique women and so many others like them have opened doors for our generation, raised that ubiquitous glass ceiling and obliterated the gender-based barriers of old. Yet despite this “progress” the slightly sour taste of an old boys club is still redolent in the modern age.

Physical strength comparisons are a moot point – there are simply and without discussion certain activities where a man’s brute strength is greater than that of a woman’s – it is as it is!

What I’m referring to is that faintly condescending manner, surprised and patronising revolving around things business related, mechanical, sporting and financial. I’m just blown away that because you’re a girl apparently makes you somehow slightly less important, less worthy and less capable than a boy.

Postscript: This is not meant as an anti-men diatribe in the slightest – however, these are two examples (Honor Killings and Womens Rights) of why the road to equality is still a long, bumpy and steep climb.

 

 

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”

There was a shy, new moon out last night – barely cracking a smile. In fact if you blink you’d probably miss the silver sliver. Yet there was just a hint of “watch out world, here I come”.

For some obscure reason, it brought a flood of sentiment (not particularly useful while dodging traffic but there is no leash powerful enough for the beast that is the human psyche). There is an afrikaans word that perhaps best encapsulates the emotion – “huimwee”. No literal translation as such – hankering, yearning, nostalgia  … yet more ethreal somehow, a more will o the wisp thing. The what ifs, perhaps and maybe’s, different roads to take, different choices to make.

The fraility of human existence was never more clear than during a documentary on television filmed by an ITN reporter called Jon Steele and called “Baker Boys – Inside the Surge”. Based on the experiences of a company of american soldiers in Iraq it chronicles the experience of being at war in the modern age. No short sharp battle, a winner and a loser – instead a constant, draining war of minds and hearts. I’m fascinated by history and hand in hand with that military history courtesy of us war-mongering humans. I feel unqualified to pass judgement on being at war – my ground level, uncontaminated opinion is that death cannot be recommended but sadly good people die while politicians play at puppet master.

A sea of blank eyes greeted the documentary maker’s questions – “how do you feel”, “what do you think”? Optimistic to expect the truth I guess. Would they do it again – I would imagine the majority would sign on the dotted line. War generates income and in an economic recession people do what they need to to put bread on the table.

It begs the question though – what does the average 20 year old see by the quiet light of a silvery moon on foreign shores?

Baker Boys – Inside the Surge

Human Rights Day, really?

When across the world:-

– Your gender makes you more or less equal.

– Your colour dictates your future.

– Your geographical location influences your right to life.

– Your caste can make you untouchable.

– Your religious beliefs make you worthy, or not.

– The size of your bank balance matters more than the size of your heart.

– A powerful fist has more impact than a powerful voice.

Pessimist – maybe.

Realist – I believe so.

My own country, a piece of the earth to which I am intrinsically bound, has its own tortured past. We, as a nation, have made outstanding progress in our passage “towards the light” yet the question of human rights seems to have been lost in striving towards political correctness.

“Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential.” – Aung San Suu Kyi

War – The bigger picture

I’m not naieve – i understand why countries go to war – i was young and involved with the boys of my generation who fought and died in our own own Bush War. Last night I commandeerd the television to watch a documentary called Restrepo about an american plattoon in some half ass backwater in the middle of Afganistan called the Korangal valley (the timeline would appear to have been late 2008/early 2009). I’m a history addict (recent and past) particularly military history (but you’re a girl …. yes I know, go figure). The documentary is crafted by one Sebastian Junger and is, in my opinion, quite brilliant. The typical documentary structure is missing ie background story, narrator etc etc and yet that seems to make the film making that much more dramatic. It is stark and sad and violent yet the biggest impact was the post deployment interviews – young men with dead eyes, fearful of saying too much and yet so desperate to convey their message (the irony is, according to the doccie the US withdrew from that “Valley of Death” in 2009 – what a waste).

Am I anti war? No. i’m anti the lives that war destroys – the living and the dead.

Restrepo

The Union Effect

The topics of religion and politics usually engender a cacophany of ill thought comment and thinly veiled insults – the result: healthy debate is avoided like the plague. Guilty as charged on most days but today my ire has been given a thorough stir. Nobody denies the constitutional right to strike for better wages but when your simian antics, hostile saber rattling and general brutish behaviour brings little children to tears as they cower in their classrooms – a supposed safe haven and place of learning, I say phooey. Re-examine your so-called honourable ideals, it smacks of political intrigue and a catastrophic behind-the-scenes agenda.