Rinse, lather, repeat…

It’s 90 days since I wrote this post on the political flavor of the the US presidential election and I have to admit I failed in my aim and have become angry and demoralized. I will even add bewildered to that collection of emotions. The whole political process now appears to be some type of sordid game show, except that the fate of a nation and its standing in the world is in jeopardy.

All I can say at this juncture is that hate solves nothing

160129_GOPLiesFearThem

~Richard

Urban Landscape Redux

Yesterdays’ post as part of the 52 week challenge also produced a second shot (if you’ll pardon the pun) as I was walking back down the stairs from the 6th floor.

 

160429_Urban2

Friday is meant to be my philosophy day, and it certainly made me think and get a different perspective on this quiet(ish) county town. I thought it was a bit too negative for my weekly challenge shot, but after a day I thought what the heck…

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 17

WEEK 17: Landscape: Urbanscape – Most Landscapes are wide open spaces of natural beauty… this week find the beauty of the urbanscape/cityscape.


You would think that it is quite easy to get an urban landscape, but this week I was fairly rushed and the weather wasn’t the best, with a few days of drizzle and grey skies. Anyhow I eventually ventured out this morning, taking a 30 minute diversion before work, with the intention of getting some street shots and, moment of inspiration, some shots from the top of the parking garage, six floors up, in the center of town.

I was strolling purposefully up the stairs when I was overtaken by a “bit of a Martin Parr moment” as I call them, and decided that an internal urban landscape would fit the bill nicely. I love the huge swathe of grey concrete, the light glinting off a single parked truck in the distance and just a small splash of color of the elevators on the periphery.

Please let me know what you think!

160428_Urban

~Richard

Horrified and Humbled by Humanity in the same day

Yesterday Donald Trump “swept to victory” in the five US States he was contesting in his race to become the Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. The previous day he was in my town, at the university, preaching to his followers and proselytizing to others. I didn’t attend but a friend made a passing visit and said it was an unbearable atmosphere.

Over the last few months The Donald has managed to rile up a nation, spouting negativity and hatred for his fellow human beings in a way that we haven’t seen since the rallies of the National Socialists in post-Great War Germany. And worryingly he seems to go from strength to strength. We are living in frightening times and I shudder at the consequences for the nation and the entire World should we, as a people, be hoodwinked into falling into this self-obsessed, narcissistic trap, like angry wasps lured to a sticky end by a honey-filled mason jar. No good can come of anything that is so driven by unthinking hate and lack of long term vision.

The same day I was reminded by another friend, of Ukrainian descent, that this week is the 30th anniversary of the appalling Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Dreadful as this event was – its effects are still being felt today – it was also a time of unbelievable acts of self-sacrifice for the bigger cause. Although there were many, many stories and images of great heroics, the one that stood out to me was the story of Alexei Ananenko, Valeri Bezpalov and Boris Baranov. These three heroes volunteered to undertake a suicide mission in order to dive into radioactive water and open a stuck  valve thus preventing an explosion and escape of radioactive steam which would have affected millions of people and a huge swathe of countryside. They all died excruciating deaths within a few days and their bodies were so toxic they were buried in lead coffins that were soldered shut.

160427-Heroes_AlexeiAnanenko_ValeriBezpalov
Alexei Ananenko and Valeri Bezpalov (I could not find an image of Boris Baranov) [image rights unknown, used for editorial purposes and out of respect!]
It is stories of such selfless bravery and heroism, of individuals faced with dire decisions that have no personal upside that give me hope for humanity, where self-preservation is cast aside for the good of fellow humankind.

As I struggle to comprehend a time of insane, spittle-filled rhetoric and bombastic sound-bites from the person who wants to rule over me I make but one comment:

He is not worthy to represent The People.

~ Richard

Inspirational – hardly

Today I was in a colleague’s office and saw the following inspirational wording inscribed in white text (mixed fonts obviously) on a black square:

“Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss you’ll land in the stars.”

Me being me,  I couldn’t help but add in my mind:  “eventually…  as a corpse.” which somewhat devalues the wording, but then that’s the way it is with me 😉

Then I started thinking about the value of this as an inspirational business quote. Surely, if the target is the moon, then missing it would be abject failure. Also, considering our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.24 light years distant (40,113,000,000,000 km) it would be a bloody long time before we’d reach a single one.

So, a quick analysis suggests it’s hardly inspiring at all really, and I am guessing it was not on the walls of NASA Mission Control during the Apollo Program!

Anyhow, I got to thinking about what useful inspirational quote I could develop for the day and I decided on the following adaptation of a well-known cliché, as it still appears meaningful, yet lofty without losing its practical value:

“IF a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing adequately”*

160426-AdequateJob
* and I would add that there’s a big emphasis on the word IF at the beginning of this statement that is usually ignored in the original!

~Richard

Iambic pentameter

It has been two days since the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and although I made mention of him on my St George’s Day post, I didn’t have time to really call out the significance of the great bard.

This is my slightly belated homage to the man, master of the iambic pentameter:

160425-Shakespeare
The Chandos Portrait (unconfirmed authenticity)

~ Iambic pentameter ~

 

For the great bard it seemed so effortless;

To lay down one line after another

But for those of us lacking his clarity

It is really quite a difficult chore

For the form is not governed by syllables

As each line is more driven through rhythm

Of an emphasis followed by quietness.

In five forms of da-dum, da-dum, da-dum

It’s the iamb, or “foot”, that achieves this

Breathing life into the words on each line

And affords every reader some structure

to make sentences, to flow with much ease

But now, this description is concluding

There remains but one question unanswered

For the audience to ponder themselves

Is this an iambic pentameter?

~Richard

(with apologies to the Bard)

ABACAB, the genesis of a verse

~ ABACAB ~

 

Rhymes are often hard to see,

and may even cause self doubt.

They’re sometimes in couplets of three,

but it’s not always an obvious pattern.

And sometimes (not here) there’s no key

so the reader has to figure it out.

😉

~Richard

St George’s Day, and the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death

I note that today is St George’s Day (the Patron Saint of England) and also the 400th anniversary of the death of arguably the most significant writer in the English language, William Shakespeare. It was the great bard who penned the famous cry to this saint in the Battle of Agincourt speech in his play Henry V:  “Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'”

St. George was a Roman soldier who was killed for not recanting his Christian faith. Somewhere along this line a myth grew up around him that he killed a dragon and this is how we generally know him in the UK, and how he is almost exclusively portrayed.

Now, fast forward to 2016 and where many jingoistic groups have relatively recently sprung up in the UK, to support those smouldering hate-filled organizations  who have been around since the early 20th century, and all of whom hide behind a falsehood of National Pride. These groups often associate themselves with the St. George Cross and use terms such as Keep Britain British and other meaningless rhetoric.

How ironic that a Christian Roman soldier, with no known association to England should be used to support the vitriolic hate speech and scare mongering that has been spread throughout the nation regarding immigration and has, to a large extent, driven the country to consider leaving the European Union based on such rhetoric rather than simple facts.

I wonder what the bard would have made of this?

160423_StGeorgesDay
St. George by Raphael

~Richard

Friday Philosophy?

According to my loosely followed schedule today I am due to post a “philosophical” thought or two on this blog. But where to start? Given the unexpected death of yet another celebrity musician/artist yesterday, with the untimely demise of Prince, I could perhaps ramble on about how we are losing so many celebrities this year, but I already did that a few months ago (which perhaps proves a point?!). Instead, I will witter on for a short while about Earth Day, for that is today’s designation.

According to the Earth Day Network the concept of Earth Day emerged from a growing awareness of humanity’s impact on the world through Rachel Carson’s seminal work, “Silent Spring,” in conjunction with the hippy movement that channeled a more introspective viewpoint on the world. This was a fairly slow grass-roots (pardon the pun) movement which became much more active following a particularly bad oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 1969 that fueled (I promise that’s the last pun) Sen. Gaylord Nelson to found an environmental movement in 1970, that is still going strong.

I will admit, that I am not generally a great fan of these “(Inter)national days” that seem to be thrust on us from all sides almost every day, and have been largely denigrated by crap like “national chocolate covered cashews day”, “national get to know your customers day” (both yesterday) or “national jellybean day” (today) and “national hanging out day” (tomorrow). Yes, really! However, I do think that Earth Day is special.

Although we should always be cognizant of our environment, and the impact we make on it; whether it be the human environment, natural environment and, yes, even the office environment; how often do we really do this? Personally, I do make the effort to turn off lights (sometimes), re-use and recycle (when I remember), walk instead of drive (when I can be bothered), but I still waste a heck of a lot of resources in my daily life. In fact, more than many people on this spherical rock even start out their day with.

So, perhaps having one day set aside to actually focus on something as important as the planet upon which we live is not a bad thing. Today I will try my fallible best to do something, however small,  “for Mother Nature” and I hope you will too.

By way of celebrating the day I also offer up the Flag of Earth, created by Illinois farmer, James Cadle, in the wake of the moon landing and unveiled the same year that Earth Day was started. It was designed to represent us all as passengers aboard the earth as a spaceship.

160422_EarthDay
What a fitting way to consider our relationship with our home planet!

~Richard

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