Tuesday, September 27, 2016

be a horrible boss

29 tips on how to be a horrible boss

When non-profit director and blogger Vu Le asked his Facebook community to describe what makes a horrible boss, he was inundated with responses. Warning: you may recognise yourself here.
Anyone else get the sense that the wrong people may read this compendium?

presidential debate

If, as I do, you take Winston Churchill's definition of "democracy" to heart, then I would say Democrat Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton walked away from last night's TV 'debate' against Republican Candidate Donald Trump looking pretty good.

Churchill observed that "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest." Good, bad or indifferent, still democracy has parameters and it was Clinton rather than Trump who transmitted a sense that she could grab her ass with both hands within the maelstrom. Trump's bullying braggadocio came up pretty limp: A man who interrupts is a man on the run and Trump interrupted. "I'm rich" -- is that a statement of political or intellectual or moral capacity? For some, maybe it is, but not for me.

She'll win, but it was pleasant to suspect she had some of the qualities required for a winner.

body swap

Your Name, also known as Kimi no Na wa in Japanese, is a body-swapping fantasy with two teenagers at its heart.
Based on a novel, it tells the story of Mitsuha, a female high school student in a rural Japanese town, and Taki, a male high school student in central Tokyo.
Mitsuha starts dreaming of herself as a young man. Taki also begins seeing himself through the eyes of a female student in the countryside.

Monday, September 26, 2016

blog-naked sort of

The following was lying around on my desk top. I can't remember why it was there or what I had planned to do with it, but if I put it here, I can take it from there and things become a little less messy....


When my mother died at 98 in 2015, she left a stack of "journals" she had kept over the years. When I asked her, in earlier times, what she wanted done with them, she replied, "Burn them." Her answer brought me up short: So many thoughts, so many sorrows and joys, so many large and small adventures, so many times the universe had collapsed and then been reconstituted. Weren't these things important and worth preserving?

And when I asked why she had kept these journals at all, she said, tongue somewhat in cheek, "How do I know what I think till I see what I say?"

These days, I too have stacks of journals gathering dust in the basement. And I too sense that what was once sky-rending in its positive or negative impact is not so all-fired important. It's not that the universe is indifferent or cruel: It's just that the universe takes a longer view and, perhaps, has a better sense of humor.

There are 7000-plus entries on the blog I write in every day of the week. It's just an old habit, contracted from my mother, perhaps. Mostly it's just a bit of this and bit of that. But my old addictions are not so important and that is probably the most important part of my latter-day journal writing: I like and dislike things, but I would be a fool to imagine that my desire to find out what I think would interest anyone else. The usefulness of the entries -- at least as I assess it -- is to fill a three part need: 1. To attempt to quantify what cannot be quantified (life) 2. To lay out my point of view in such a way that whoever reads it can say, "Whoa Nellie! I'm not that stupid!" and 3. To attempt to fulfill what I think of as a very human drive to be as naked as no one can help but be.

One-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins once observed that "meeting your favorite author is one of life's most reliable disappointments." To come into communion with someone who has found a way to go naked and be convincing about it is pretty damned exciting. It's 'just like me.' I am not alone and lonely in the quiet times when nakedness may be overwhelming.

But the surprise and wonder has got a poor shelf life. How interesting for how long can nakedness actually be? You're naked, I'm naked and no addition of clothes or words written in a journal can change that. Hell, bare-nekkid is just bare-nekkid and what's on display is hardly new or novel.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I slept out along one branch of the
Westfield River up around Worthington. As the night came on, I lay in my sleeping bag listening to the chortling of the river. Sometimes it was as if people were talking as the river flowed. The next morning, as dawn began to light up the sky, I got up and walked upstream along the rocks poking out of the river. And as I rounded one bend, up ahead by a couple of hundred feet, lying on a big flat rock in the middle of the river, there lay a naked woman. She lay on her back as the sun rose higher above the hill across the flow. Soon the sun would touch and warm her. She was still and so was I.

And then I pulled myself back. The beauty did not deserve my interference, somehow, and I did not want the woman to be afraid. So I turned my back to her, lifted a large rock and sent it crashing against other nearby rocks. I kept my back to the woman and stayed that way to a count of perhaps fifty. By the time I turned back, she was, as planned, gone.

There is naked and then there is naked. Even a person dressed from head to toe with journal entries or blog posts can hide and hide and hide some more. People get naked at their own speed and in their own time and as the saying goes, "you can't push the river." Just because anyone gets undressed does not mean they are naked. Just because they say "naked" does not mean that nakedness can somehow be compassed and explained.

But if you want to get to Carnegie Hall, the only real option is to practice, practice, practice. Practice being naked long enough and one day, quite by surprise, the nakedness will come out and dance. The practice helps to get out of the way. To stop cloning BY cloning. To be real by being an utter phony.

It's an odd business, being what anyone already is.

nothing special and yet ....

For his mysterious series Provisional Arrangement, award-winning Slovakian photographer Martin Kollar hints at droll, tragic stories
‘We find ourselves in a complex world without a sense of permanence and certainty. We surround ourselves with temporary friends, we have temporary women, we have a temporary tooth replacement and we prefer temporary residencies to permanent address’

the 'most expensive' chocolate

A bar of To’ak chocolate sells for a tooth-splintering $345 – but a stay in a treehouse in the Ecuador rainforest where it originates costs just $15 a night.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, there will always be someone to make a twinkling religion out of it ... or, alternatively, a grinding and cruel poverty. In Ecuador there's a glittering jewel, balanced and storied. In Syria, there's a lack of food and water and decency.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

colorized historic photos

Colorized historical photos passed along in email:

Swiss approve improved snooping

GENEVA (AP) -- Swiss voters granted new powers Sunday to the country's intelligence services, allowing them to track internet activity, snoop on email and tap phones to better fight spies, criminal hackers and violent extremists.
A majority of 65.5 percent voted for the new law in the national referendum, Swiss media reported.... 
Until now, Swiss authorities had been barred from using anything more than publicly available information or tips from foreign officials when monitoring threats inside the country.

wonder and disaster

Rolling around like a hard candy among my mental teeth, with scant notice as to whether it were true or false, click-click, click-click....

War is an act of imagination and hence is the province of men. Men are imaginative. Women are serious. It is the women whose center of gravity is lower and more rooted. It is they who grow the flowers. It is men who spread the pollen far and wide, sometimes with gush-wonderful results in color and scent, sometimes with one disaster springing up behind another.

It takes care to grow the flowers and care to imagine the possibilities. Either way, the fields fill up in riotous array and children create bouquets to present to mom and dad.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

my son buys a gun

In the midst of it all ... in the midst of a sickening drumbeat of slaughter and depredation in the Middle East ... in the midst of random and not-so-random killings in the U.S. ... in the midst of some quietly-pleading and worn-out voice that says, "Make it stop!" ... in the midst of the fact that my wife is off to New Jersey today to visit with a sister whose daughter's two-year-old son has been diagnosed with leukemia ... in the midst of a saddened and saddening matrix within ... in the midst of all that, yesterday, my younger son purchased a pistol.

"You OK with that?" my older son asked in an even tone. And the fact was that I really didn't know. Pistols are for killing people. They are possible. The difference between an hypothesis and a pistol on the hip is far less of a stretch than is often portrayed. My son had taken all the legal steps to assure that the pistol was within the law. He showed me the pistol. It was surprisingly light. In his purchase, he had crossed a line between theory and fact: Everyone's got a killer instinct -- it's what they do with it that counts. Denial is not an option. Will my son make a mistake? I pray not. I pray that he will not be forced to confront the fact that hurting someone else is wounding oneself, sometimes grievously. I pray and yet failure to man up to the killer instinct, to own what you own ... it may be nice not to have to confront it, but not confronting it is cotton candy.

No, I didn't know what I felt. Was I OK? Well, everyone walks on his or her own road, no matter how hard they may pose on someone else's road. I was glad my son owned a pistol in the sense that in a confrontation with the 'lawful authorities' I suspect may be brought to bear against American citizenry ... well, a little push-back is not a bad idea ... or rather, it's a lousy idea but sometimes there is nothing left but lousy options.

I am ashamed that my generation has come up with no better than a gun-crazed citizenry. I am sorry. And simultaneously I know that I might kill someone else with the hammer I used for so many years to drive nails. My son will have to be his own kind of grown-up and I suspect that my implicit losing of parental control is part of my dust-stormy confusion about a pistol. I am proud of him for seeing the matter through and I pray -- as with all prayers that get answered in the affirmative -- that it will not be too painful an affirmation.