Monthly Archives: April 2008

Why Do You Throw Bottles?

I have been to lots of concerts. I really enjoy live music and I respect the musicians who tour around to give us a good show. The one thing I don’t understand at these shows is the audience. There are always a few people in the audience who seem to have absolutely no respect for anything. I hate that I have to put up with these peckerheads every time I want to see a show.

I haven’t blogged about this before. I usually just take the bad with the good. I try to ignore these people and just enjoy myself. But I can’t do that today. I’m upset at a situation that happened at a Stop The Violence concert a few weeks ago. I wasn’t there but I’ve seen this happen several times. It seems to be common. But it shouldn’t be and it makes no sense to me as to why it happens.

Krs-One is a legend in hip-hop culture. He respects the culture, makes great music, and is heavily involved in the culture. He always puts a positive spin on things and tries to educate the youth. So he was performing on stage in an event to call attention to violence and what happens? – Someone in the crowd throws a bottle at him.

Krs-One finished his set but then had to be taken to the hospital for his injuries.

What’s funny about throwing things at performers on the stage? If you don’t like the show leave. If you can’t be respectful, don’t even go. Stay home and listen to music in your bedroom.

I’m tired of people ruining the show. I hate having to worry that someone is going to get hurt. I hate having to pay attention to the crowd instead of the act on the stage. But I can’t do that when I see someone acting like an idiot. I’m too afraid that I’m going to be stuck in the middle of something ugly. And I shouldn’t have to feel like that at a show. I should just be able to lose myself in the moment and in the music. That’s what it is all about.

At least Krs-One rose above the situation. He told people,

“Let it go. When negativity comes your way, let it go,”
“Let this be an example as to how we stop the violence.”

Myth Revisited

Last April I wrote a blog entry entitled Global Warming Myth. I just reread it and it is amazing how it still resonates.

Last April, we were getting record low temperatures and snow. Up until last week, I thought it was now spring. Except, we seem to be getting a repeat of last year’s weather. The west coast of Canada was hit with a huge snowstorm last week and just this past weekend, Northern Ontario was hit with one as well.

It is amazing to think that we are basically in the same place we were last year at this time. It seemed like it should be summer near the end of April but in Canada we are getting one last surprise visit from a winter that doesn’t want to go away.

This isn’t novel. This isn’t a new condition. In fact, about twenty years ago, the winter roads in Northern Ontario used to be open into May. Nowadays the roads are usually gone and melted by Easter.

It seems to have gotten warmer in the past fifteen years or so. And people have focused on that. They invented the term Global Warming to explain it. But it doesn’t really explain anything. We go through some weird and unpredictable weather. This has always been the case.

I know that we need to look after our planet and should take pains to do so. But I still believe that Global Warming is a myth. But like I said last year, if it scares people into looking closely at the interaction that we have with this planet, then it is a good thing. We need to drastically change things now. I agree with that. If this myth helps to that end, then I say “Great!” That is what myths are for after all.

Ladies First

Hip-hop is a culture that everyone can participate in. But where are the ladies? They are severely underrepresented in this genre. Why is that?

XM radio 65 explored this topic all weekend. The extended the Ladies First radio program to celebrate everything female in hip-hop. It was nice to hear all the great songs from female rappers over the entire history of this art form. I had the radio on all weekend long.

There are some historic ladies that have blessed us with their skills on record. But they always had to battle for respect. They still do. Female rappers and DJs are few and far between. Why aren’t there more ladies in hip-hop?

It could have something to do with image. When it comes to guys on the mic, we don’t care what they look like. The Notorious B.I.G. is heralded as being one of these best ever on the mic, but he was a huge dude. Craig Mack had a bunch of hits and he wasn’t even close to being attractive.

However, when it comes to ladies on the mic, I think we expect too much. We expect women to be polite and look good. Rappers generally don’t have to do this. We expect women to behave in certain ways and it’s almost counterintuitive to what hip-hop seems to stand for.

I think we need a total shift of thinking here. Women can rock the mic and they can do it well. I think we should pay more attention to them. Women deserve respect in this culture and there are some truly great and underappreciated artists out there.

Check out Eternia, Remy Ma, Jean Grey.

And the Legends; Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Michie Mee, Salt and Pepper, Motion, Missy Elliot, Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte,

And don’t forget; Foxxy Brown, Lil Kim, Da Brat, Angie Martinez, Left Eye Lopez, Nonchalant, Lauryn Hill, Rage, JJ Fad, Eve, Bahamadia, Paula Perry, Rah Digga, Heather B.

And yes I do own some of these records. I should own more though. A lot of the artists I just listed haven’t recorded any new material in a long time either. It’s a shame. And there should be way more ladies on the mic, so much so that my list would be too large to even put in a single blog post. Which leads me back to the question, where the ladies at?

The Promotion of Human Welfare

I read this great essay and within it was this quotation,

“…it would be far more socially beneficial to induce men to accept the promotion of human welfare on earth as their major purpose in life.”

That is beautiful!

Think about it for one moment. Imagine what would happen if everyone looked out for one another. Imagine what the world would be like if we all took on this challenge personally.

It doesn’t take much to do either. Next time someone is following you into the mall, hold open the door for that person. Simple things can mean a lot. It doesn’t have to be a large task to help someone out.

Scouts Canada has a saying that all its members should, “Do a good turn daily.” This means that they should do something nice for someone everyday. I think this is a rule we all should live by. I often look for ways to help people out. And I don’t expect anything in return.

This quotation continues,

“Moreover, men can achieve far greater and more immediate personal satisfaction from success in their effort to promote human welfare in this world than from any other effort to achieve bliss in the next world. And the observation of visible success is bound to strengthen any purpose.”

Think about it. Try to do something today to promote human welfare. It will make you feel good and it will do a lot for the world.

quotation from Burnham P. Beckwith, American Atheist, March 1986. as is appeared in Richard Robinson, Life Has No Purpose – We Create It from Constructing a Life Philosophy. 2002 Greenhaven Press.

What is Story?

A Myth is simply a story that tries to explain the way the world works. We behave in certain ways due to the myths that we support. Myths, in and of themselves, have nothing to do with religion. Myths transcend religion and affect each and everyone one of us, whether we have religious convictions or not.

The word myth is a very strong and powerful word. It means a lot. It is often a scary word to people who don’t truly understand what a myth is. As such, people have fought hard to devalue this word. This may not have been a conscious decision but it has happened. Myth is now equated with the word lie or untruth, which really does a disservice to us all. That is why I often don’t even use the word anymore. It has lost its meaning.

This is why I use the word story instead. Unfortunately, this word also can be equated with untruth but I don’t think the two have become synonymous in our culture just yet. You will often hear people ask if a story is true or if a movie is based on a true story. As such, we almost always believe that there is a true story.

Our legal system works at trying to get to the true story. A judge and jury listen to both sides of a story and then come up with what they believe to be the one true story. Of course, in court, there are often more than just two sides. The plaintiff and the defendant are often entrenched in their own specific and limited view of the situation but experts, and witnesses often bring up a myriad of other viewpoints and angles at which to look at the story.

In my exploration of the nature of reality, I believe that we need to look at a variety of writings and viewpoints. I feel like I can never fully research my thesis here but I think that I have made some great discoveries and have come upon some startling insights.

We use stories to make sense of our world on a daily basis. Everyone does, without exception. It was the one true and common thing that we all share in this world. And that alone makes it a topic worth our study and attention.

Extent of My Vocabulary

I read somewhere that Shakespeare had a vocabulary of over 30,000 words. Apparently, this is a huge amount and most people don’t have such an extensive vocabulary. This got me thinking about the size and content of my vocabulary. So I’ve decided I am going to measure my vocabulary.

The problem is, I’m not sure how to go about this. I’ve thought of a few ways but I’m not sure how practical they are.

1) I could look over my past entries word by word and write down each new word that I come across.
2) I could comb through a dictionary word by word and record every word I am familiar with.
3) Or maybe I should just listen to the words I use when I speak. I could record everything I say in the course of a day by using my digital tape recorder. I could then play it back and count each new word.

Maybe I would need to do all three of these things to get a true measure. I am sure that there are words I only use in certain contexts. I wonder if I write words I never say, or say words that I never write. I wonder if there are words that I never use in either my writing or my speaking but I would know them to read them.

Vocabulary is a very interesting thing. I think that I know a lot of words, but I often come across words I don’t know. I bet I get by with only using a small and insignificant amount of words on a daily basis.

The funny thing is that Shakespeare never would’ve dreamt that his work would be so influential that people would actually study it in such detail hundreds of years later. I wonder if he consciously chose to introduce new words. I wonder if he strove to increase his vocabulary. Or maybe he was just brilliant and no other writer will be able to measure up to him. Still though, we could measure ourselves. What do you think?

A Thing of Beauty

I watched the Boston Marathon this morning and it was a thing of beauty. I just have so much respect and admiration for the athletes. Running a marathon is not something that everyone can do. I like to think that I might be able to do it, if I trained really hard and extensively but I am content to stick to running under 10 kilometers. I actually don’t know how these runners do what they do.

These athletes ran 26 miles, which is about 42 kilometers. And even more impressive was the last five miles for the women. Two women were battling all the way to the finish line. They were neck and neck and it was certainly one of the most exciting races I have ever seen. They pushed themselves so hard and were running the fastest pace they had of the whole race in those last few miles. Their pace, by the way, totally shattered my usual pace for a 10-kilometer run.

Dire Tune broke ahead but was quickly challenged by the other runner. Alevtina Biktimirova caught back up and they stayed together until the very end. Dire Tune pulled away and took the lead, crossing the finish line a mere two seconds before her competitor.

That was a thing of beauty. And not just for these two winners, but for everyone who even finished the race. It is a grand accomplishment and worth celebrating. It was a very exciting race, and definitely a thing of beauty.

I’ve been Brushing Wrong!

I went to the dentist last week for a regular cleaning. I talked to the hygienist about a sensitive area in my teeth. She told me that the enamel on my teeth has been eroded over the years. I asked her why and she said it could be because of how I brush my teeth. I was really surprised to hear her say this.

I have never had a cavity in my entire life. I pride myself in doing a good job brushing my teeth. I was shocked to hear that I have actually been brushing wrong for pretty much my whole life.

She asked if I brush my teeth hard. I had to admit that I do. I attack my teeth like a janitor would attack a sticky and dirty floor. I scrub it with all my might and put in a bit of elbow grease. I even use the toothbrush head on.

She showed me that you don’t have to press hard to clean your teeth well. She also showed me that I should use the side of the brush and go more on an angle instead of head on. It was like I had never been in a dentist office before. It was amazing. I was learning something new and I absorbed everything she had to say.

The funny thing is that I think dentists have tried to tell me this before. They just have never put it in ways that I understand. I have been getting soft brushes for years. I never equated a soft brush with a soft hand while brushing. Maybe that is my fault.

Anyway, once enamel has been eroded, it cannot be restored. So I now use Sensodyne toothpaste and it has made a huge difference in just a week.

What is Reality?

What is Reality? It seems like such a simple question? But it is related to a myriad of other questions. What makes up reality? Are we here for a reason? Is there such thing as fate? Is there a grand design to the universe? Is there a supreme being that sees over everything? What composes the building blocks of everything that we see and do?

These are questions that humanity has struggled with since the beginning of time. (Did time even have a beginning?)

Religion has had a lot to say about these important questions and I think they provide us with some answers. Science also can provide us with some answers. But both of these disciplines fall short of the whole story. And that is the entire problem with religion and science.

I think that the humanities have a lot to say about the nature of reality. Poets and writers have given us some brilliant answers, but most of the time, these just get written off (sorry for the pun).

The interesting thing is that religion and science both offer good stories about the nature of reality. But if authors and poets are doing the same thing, then it isn’t that much of a stretch to say that everything seems to be story.

Joseph Gold writes about how each and every one of us uses story in our everyday lives.
“We are all storymakers. We use story to organize and control. . . . Human beings strive for order, control and peace but we can never be static. We must change, age, learn more, grow and adapt. So we are always in a cycle of creative struggle, changing and striving to manage our changing and to integrate what we learn into our own story. If during our growing up, for instance, we have suffered trauma . . .To escape the feeling of helplessness and confusion that we carry with us we need to organize, package, index our experience, do what we mean when we say “get a handle on it,” so that we can carry the baggage of our experience comfortably and not have bits and pieces falling all over the place. This is what we do when we “story” it.” (taken from Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 51-52)

Story is everywhere. And if we believe Marshall McLuhan when he says, “the medium is the message,” then I think it is safe to say that the medium is story and therefore the message must also be story. To put it simply, story is the nature of reality.

More to come – Storied Thursdays are now a feature on both Silent Cacophony and Thoughtful Cacophony.

Deprived of Emotional Needs

I think some kids are growing up deprived of their emotional needs. Everyone knows what the physical needs are. Children need food and shelter and parents work hard to make sure they get these things. However, I believe that some parents go overboard providing things for their children. Many adults work hard to give their children things that they didn’t have and this is noble.

But kids don’t need tones of stuff. Sure it is nice to have things like MP3 players, video games, bicycles, computers, and all the latest gadgetry and toys. And I’ll admit that I had some of these things, or their ancient equivalent, when I was growing up. I had an Atari, a cassette walkman, a bike, and a skateboard. And I played with these things all the time. But the most important part of my childhood, and the part I fondly remember, has nothing to do with tangible objects. It was all the time that my dad spent with me.

My dad was my hero growing up. He coached my soccer team. He played out front and in the backyard with me. We went camping and he took me on all sorts of adventures. He spanked me when I did wrong. He talked to me about real things. He was, and continues, to be there for me. He helped me to grow and develop as a person.

My mom wasn’t so good at this but she tried. My parents made sure that they took care of my emotional needs. They provided for me in ways that I will forever be grateful.

Here are some emotional needs that you need to consider. Children need examples of how to behave and act in certain situations. Parents are the model for this. Children need to be listened to and engaged in meaningful conversation. Parents need to model this as well. Children need to be disciplined and taught what is right and wrong. This is the parents’ job, no one else’s. Children need to have their emotions acknowledged, even if we don’t understand them. They need to be told it is okay to laugh or to cry. They need our support in all of their emotional needs.

I try to do these things in the classroom. And I see how some children at school are so starved for this kind of attention. It’s really sad to see. I hate to admit it, but I spend more time and attention on some children than their parents do. That is just sad. And it needs to change.