Wednesday, November 21, 2007

He who carries the biggest stick makes the rules...

I watched an animated movie called the “The Iron Giant” on Wednesday night. It deals with, on the surface, the relationship between a boy and a giant alien robot. It seems very cute and entertaining. But, the sinister underlying tone is war and those that covet it are vane, power-hungry megalomaniacs. I also watched a video on YouTube recently that was submitted by a Rush fan for their video “Force 10”. It shows Japan after WWII and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atom Bombings. I have never witnessed devastation on that level. It depicts piles of dead and children with radiation poisoning that are appalling and revolting beyond belief. It is a fact that the Japanese were ready to surrender because they had no more soldiers. The Japanese were training young boys and old men to take off and fly planes; but not to land them. This was so they could "Kamakazi" or suicide bomb carriers and destroyer ships. They were desperate for victory but it was not in the cards. The Nazi’s, Italians and Japanese (The Axis of Evil) had already lost on all fronts, yet we chose to make our attacks more and more aggressive. We had to win; no matter what the cost or what we had to do.
I never looked at war with more than a passing fascination. I have always been on the non-committal side of war because I didn’t know all the facts. When you know the facts it will completely open your eyes and help you to see 20/20, if you will. I have said for more than the last few months that the war we are fighting in the Middle-East is an obvious front for greed and corruption. I know that these sound like really strong words but I have never had more conviction about anything in my life. I witnessed a close family friend brought home in a casket. She was literally blown to fractions by an “IED”. We call them landmines or RPG’s – rocket propelled grenades. Why does our government choose to use these vague descriptions and anagrams as descriptions of these events? Because, if the government and media don’t call them bombs we may not understand or miss the meaning of what has really happened. The bottom line is that people are dying for a war that is about greed and oil. "System of a Down" recently released a song that says, “Why is it that when we wage a war/why do we always send the poor?”. How sad and absolutely true. They have nothing to lose; they have nothing to go home to so they enlist hoping for the government to fulfill a promise of a college education and a pension. This is not so. If you are wounded in battle or can’t complete your duties for whatever reason, your pension is prorated. In other words, they give you $10,000 up front. If you don’t complete your duties, they take money back based on how much time you actually served. How wrong is that?
So, don’t be deceived. This war is about greed; it is about oil. Have we found WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction)? Have we found Anthrax or Mustard Gas? In a word…NO. We have to make a difference. Become educated about the facts. Know what your chosen party is about and what they support. I have changed my thinking in the last couple of years; I have become educated. I have opened my eyes, thinking and heart to the truth. I don’t think that I’ve become a bleeding-heart, but I do believe that I don’t want my children to go to war because of our government’s lust for oil. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Knock Knock, Neo...

The 21st century seems to hold a lot of technological promise for our children and grandchildren. A lot of problems, too. Specifically, I’m referring to the human race. Humans have not evolved for a hundred thousand years. We lived off the land and had no further need to adapt in the radical ways that were need to survive the millions of years that came before. We knew how to make fire, use tools, reason and preserve ourselves. In the last 6,500 years we have learned to use a monetary system, trade and barter, use written languages and ultimately in the 20th century we became industrialized. We made machines that made more machines to make our lives easier and simpler. Or, did we?
Currently there are several debates raging about the future of the human race. Will we succumb to extinction? Will we evolve into a myriad of hybrid species? Will we spread out to the stars? One thing is for certain; we will change. It seems that we have reached a crossroads of sorts and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the next 20 – 30 years. We already have enhanced humans living among us. Steroids enhance strength. Artificial robot limbs for amputees. Ear implants, retinal implants; all made by computers to enhance us. Remember the story about the scientist that implanted a USB port on his arm so that he could “feel” his wife’s touch from across the Atlantic Ocean? This is the dawning of a new age. Humans will probably fall into a few different categories within a couple of decades: Those that are enhanced, those that choose not to be and those that can’t. The social and environmental impacts are so far reaching that it would be impossible to predict the effects, but there will be effects, you can count on that.
I believe that my generation and the ones before will probably resist the changes. The generations that come after will probably embrace these changes just like they have embraced the technology of cell phones, laptops and Wi-Fi. Is it a matter of having the latest gadget or is it more embedded in our psyche? Are we compelled to be in the Lemmings race to the future and just accept these things as they come? What do you think?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding…

You know, it’s strange when I think about all of the strife and unrest in the world today. Where does it come from? Is it the war in the middle-east? Is it global warming, inflation, AIDS, the homeless, saving the rain forests, etc.? I think that the world at large is unhappy because of “stuff”. Keeping up with the Jones’, if you will. We seem to be consumed with the idea of more stuff. iPod’s, hybrid cars, faster computers, eco-friendly toilet paper. The list goes on and on. Marketing seems to be crammed down our throat every second of every day. Commercials for new and improved this or that are battering us every time we turn on the T.V. A half-hour sitcom is actually only 22 minutes with 8 minutes spent on commercials. Drive down Blackstone and see how many billboards you can count in one mile. It’s staggering the amount of money that companies spend each year on advertising alone. I think that we, as American’s, have lost sight of what life is all about. With so many people telling us how we should live and what to buy, it becomes very easy to get lost. A few nights ago, when we had the heavy rain, I heard another instructor in the Ed Room say that it would be terrible if we lost power for a while because everyone one would be forced to read or interact instead of just watch the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars or Survivor. It made me think about my kids and how they struggle to entertain themselves. My daughter, for a long time, was unable to entertain herself. She wanted someone to show her how to play with a toy and then watch them do it instead of doing it herself. She’s now cleared that hurdle, but it’s a sign of the times that we’d rather be non-interactive in our entertainment and dealings with others. We should just “unplug” for a while and talk to those around us. When is the last time you really talked with your kids, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters or friends? Or is your life like mine: every interaction is centered on going here or there, seeing a movie, playing laser tag, visitations, etc.? I know that I’m sounding awful preachy here, but think for a minute: do you spend more time in non-interactive activities? If you answered yes (as I did), maybe it’s time to reevaluate our priorities. When your days are through, what will you remember about your life? Countless movies, text messages, iPod downloads and ‘Net surfing? I know that’s where I am right now and it’s time for me/us to get it right. I’m not talking about “going off the grid” and moving to the wilderness but maybe we could all slow down, just for a minute and smell the roses. Call your parents or your kids and just talk. Not make plans, not clear up business, just talk. Maybe we all could stand a little more peace, love and understanding.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In space, no one can hear you scream...

Wow! I really liked all of your responses. They ranged from total believer to skeptic. As I was carving my pumpkin last night it occurred to me that different things scare different people. I was having a discussion in my first morning class about scary movies and what things scared them. I told them the story about my first scary movie experience. My parents didn’t let me watch really scary movies while I was growing up. I watched the Creature Features on Saturday afternoon, but those were usually black and white oldies that were, for the most part, corny but not very scary.
It was New Years Eve in my 7th grade year (1979) and my best friend Jerry asked if I could sleep over for the night. My parents agreed and I was off. His parents had been invited to a party and we were supposed to go with them. Once we got to the party we got bored immediately because we were the only kids. His parents suggested that we go to the theater, which was only a couple blocks away, to see a movie. The party would still be going by the time the movies were over so at least we could kill some time until then.

We paid for our tickets and went in without even seeing what was playing. We went to the concession stand to by some popcorn and asked what was playing. The theater employee told us: “Alien” and “Dawn of the Dead”. I had never heard of those movies before but was exited about "Alien" because I liked outer space and alien stories. “Dawn of the Dead” was up first. Only a few minutes into the movie and the gore-fest kicked off full-tilt! Blood, zombies, weird camera angles and dark sets assaulted me on all fronts. The overall feel of the movie was a total sense of hopelessness. No where to go, no one to help and no one to rescue. It completely freaked me out. I desperately wanted to run out of the theater but was literally frozen with fear. That was the longest 90 minutes of my life! Once I had survived that traumatizing event I got to “look forward” to “Alien”. Wrong! This movie was worse than the other because these people are trapped on a spaceship with an alien killing machine. Oh man, what a long night. Once I finally got home I felt a little bit better. At least until it was time to go to bed…
My bedroom was a converted basement beneath the house. Yes, basement. It was very nice actually, with new carpet and plush wall coverings. But that night, it was like a tomb. Once I got into bed I looked up the stairs, located directly ahead of me. My mind began to spin at hyper speed. Zombies and aliens descended those stairs all night that night and for weeks after that. Once I got over that (a few weeks later), I began to develop a morbid love of all things scary and pretty soon, it took some pretty serious scaring to get me riled up. One notable exception is the Exorcist. Enough said! What movie/movies scared you as a kid (or an adult)? Why?