Friday, November 20, 2009

The Evolution of Correspondence

I see them everywhere. The many who so totally thrive and seem to be nurtured in some strange way by ‘word correspondence’. And yes, although my neighbours are all socially polished enough to ignore the newspaper on the kitchen table when they come for coffee, at the same time, in one short hour they will whip out cell phones every four minutes for a brief ‘read’ or more amazing yet, to write.

It is all, to me, such an amazing phenomenon. When did ’writing’ and ’reading’ become such a passion, such a delight, such a part of humankind’s existence? I would never have expected our species to come to this.

I remember my Mother nagging us when we were kids to send a note to Grandma to thank her for the new doll, or a note to Aunty for inviting us for the weekend. We cringed and wailed and held back hoping she’d forget it. She had to be kidding. Expecting us to go to school everyday, and write all those words and figures and then on an evening or weekend to be expected to send written correspondence to someone. Yikes.

Eventually, with all the nagging, the girls in the family might eventually send an un-inspired floral card. But with the boys, it was a useless battle, like expecting them to wash their ears once a week -- Not going to happen!

And yes, we were all keen to have a pen-pal. I enlisted several. Did I write to them? Not so much. A couple of grand epistles and that was the end of that. And even dear friends that moved away. The written exchanges dwindled away rapidly.

And I remember in school when the English Lit assignment was a short paragraph. An audible sigh of objection swept through the classroom that mimicked that same collective sigh heard when the health nurse arrived and we were all advised we were going to get a shot. And if the assignment was 200 words, the wail was a grand duplication of anguished souls in a great pit of fire.

Nothing was quite so degenerating as a request to write something down. We object, we scoff. We know full well what is, or isn’t, a waste of time. And written correspondence is a complete waste of time.

Reading, likewise. But without the luxury of television, we will read comics of a Saturday morning. Yes we will. But assigned reading? Not so much. For the book report, the art of it was to read a bit of the introduction, a page in the middle, and the final chapter all of which sufficed for that assignment. But even that was too much for most of the boys. They shuffled their feet under their desks, they agreed the book report was due, but even at that, no such attempt ever saw the light of day.

Hub was in the same Lit class with me when we were in school, and I know it is true, when he says he did not submit one written assignment during the entire year. He did not, nor did other boys in that class of the same ilk. In those days there were no bigger nerds, than the savages that devoured text or spit it out for love of it. No fashion in it, no style, no sophistication, no class, no koolness.

But now, look around you. Texting, texting, everywhere, without a chance to think. Talk about a savage perusal of written language. People, both young and old, of all genders, are tweeting, twittering, texting, like fiends out of control. And the necessity of doing it ranks right up there with the need for food, water, and shelter.

Texting is totally swank. Written exchanges are welcome and heartily engaged in whether one is eating, sleeping, driving, socializing, sexing, or on the john. When and how did this all happen?

And the amazing thing is the art of texting parallels, in a crazy way, that of the book report aforementioned. It has less to do with content and more to do with speed, terseness, compaction, and overall efficiency.

But even more an enigma, is my position in this new clime of correspondence. I don’t text, but I’m in there. Doing the trendy thing with my writing and blogging.

Yet, even in this new clime, among my circle of friends that are texting someone, somewhere, every four minutes. And same friends that are simultaneously aware of my passion for writing and aware that I have a secret blog. These same, reportedly, among themselves, with sadness that precipitates dewy eyes, express an ongoing and painful concern about the mental deficiency that drives my passion for written text on a daily basis. Go figure!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Roberta Speaks to You of ‘The Inequality”

Lend your ear. “The Roberta” has something to say.

To start with it amazes me how we beat away at the pendulum of racial bias, social injustice, political incorrectness, etc. and seems the more we beat it, the farther out of whack it becomes.

We push it and push it away from the bad, towards the perceived good, never mindful that it can be pushed too far the other way. And then, in the end, there is no balance, no sensible sway, and it is way out of perpendicular.

But one thing about it, it has left us all with a truly refined understanding of social injustice and discrimination. No one can deny that. The media daily reviews and renews our understanding of inequality and injustice. And the schools incorporate this mind-set into students whether the discussion be centered around communication, living skills, history, or anti-bullying.

Should be good, should be well. Should make all of society the best it can be -- should it not?

But now, there is a new style of discriminatory address, nomenclature, that I feel compelled to discuss. Saw it on television two days in a row. So, seems to me, it is catching on fast.

First it was Donald Trump. In case you are unaware, Donald Trump is no longer Donald Trump. He is now “The Donald”. And furthermore, Oprah is no longer Oprah, she is “The Oprah”.

And so, why should it matter? I’ll tell you why it matters. It creates a status, a bias, a separation, an inequality of these people with the rest of us. Maybe not in a negative way for them, but in a negative way for the rest of us. Why? Because “The”, (simple word that it is) means very distinct, unlike any other.

The distinctiveness of ‘the’ speaks of a uniqueness unequalled. Even titles of “Queen”, “President”, and “Duchess” are less powerful or separating, because there are more than one of them. They belong to a group, a rather large group if the history of the world is taken into account.

But with “the”, there is no group, no fraternity, brotherhood, or even clan. “The” specifies something completely unique. Simple example would be if I direct your attention to ‘the pen’ I hold in my hand, ‘the’ signifies no other though there may be many pens equal and alike in every respect.


Now I don’t know Donald Trump well enough to know if he could ever get it. His forte, according to him, is being able to spot a beautiful woman and “inappropriate” speaks to him of a sexual act rather than anything else. With that kind of restrictive thinking, I don’t think he would get it.

But Oprah? That is a whole different story. She has heart and spirit and human understanding, and I am truly disappointed in her if she can’t see that this kind of thing speaks of discrimination and inequality of persons. I would have thought she’d have no part of it.

And that’s ‘The Roberta’s’ spiel for today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Strain of Influenza

In “Little Dorritt“, Charles Dickens makes some surprising observations about a strain of Influenza, still spreading, still infecting, that humankind chooses to ignore. Dickens explains it here:

“…it is…as difficult to stay a moral infection as a physical one…
…such a disease…will spread with the malignity and rapidity of the Plague...
[and]…the contagion, when it has once made head, will spare no pursuit or condition, but will lay hold on people in the soundest health, and become developed in the most unlikely constitutions…
[this is]…a fact as firmly established by experience as [the fact] that we human creatures breathe an atmosphere.”

And from there Dickens goes on the say:

“A blessing beyond appreciation would be conferred upon mankind, if the tainted, in whose weakness or wickedness these virulent disorders are bred, could be instantly seized and placed in close confinement (not to say summarily smothered) before the poison is communicable.”

Of course, even though the disease is far more rampant today than it was in Dickens’ time, ‘smothering’ is not the kind of archaic cure that modern society would ever consider. We have only those few local governments that still call for a death penalty for the sickest of the sick. For the rest, a shot in the arm, immunization of the yet still uninfected, is all we can hope for, to effect a cure.

But the problem is, that for scientists to create a vaccination, they need weakened or dead vestiges of the ‘organism’ that initially caused the disease, and where can that be found?

Certainly not in woods or fields. Certainly not in fowl of the air, or fish in the sea. There are no creatures of land or water or air who have the self-same evil strain of the moral influenza flagrant among people.

And in humans, the murderers, perverts, and predators, never fully recover enough (despite rehabilitation programs), for the microbes within to weaken or die in order that these same microbes can be extracted from framework or phlegm and used as an effective base for immunization.

There are no weakened or withered vestiges of the evil that corrupts our government, theatres, television screens, churches, cities, or even isolated communities to be found. All causal microbes are alive and well.

So with immunization out of the question, see what a hopeless situation we are in.

Nothing for it…short of Dickens’ suggestion… “summarily (meaning immediately and without attention to formality)smothering!”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back to Blogging with a Vengeance

Looks like I’ve completely run out of excuses. The garden is done, the yard work is done, veggie and fruit preserves done… I even have a brand new laptop that talks to both printers from the kitchen through some kind of invisible aura, but, despite all this, the blogging is not getting done.

In the knitting basket, there are socks getting done, and slippers getting done, but still the blogging is not getting done. There is Christmas shopping getting done, but no blogging getting done.

Hub is a bit dejected. Thinks I don’t appreciate the new laptop cause he can easily see the blogging is not getting done. And he knows that since 2003, blogging has been so important to me, and now of a sudden, the blogging is not getting done.

I think the real root of the problem is I am quite distressed by what is happening in this old world. The news I heard the other day has investigators, once again, looking for a missing child. This time a 7-month-old babe weighing, according to HNN’s newscasts, 10 pounds. According to the parents, the child went missing from their bedroom while they were sleeping.

Now as sad and distressing as these situations are, I find it comforting to know that the people discussing the situation on newscasts have more intelligence than I. I am comforted when they think of things that I would never think of to solve a case. But now I am quite distraught when, with this particular case, I realize they know so little.

In all their panels of expert detectives, lawyers, medics, newscasters, none zeroed in on the most significant up-front fact in this story. To me, the most outstanding detail in this mystery of the missing baby, described by her family as a little girl with a very big head, is that if a child seven month’s old weighs only 10 pounds, of course she will have a very big head.

And if she weighs only 10 pounds, it is obvious what happened to her. She physically faded away, before her body was hidden, taken, whatever the case may be. I would think any common-sense individual would know that unless a child has a serious hormonal imbalance that affects their growth, what child, at seven months, would weigh only ten pounds?

And so, then what distresses me even more is the realization that we seem to have become a culture that lives with a greater cloud of dread and fear of obesity, than our will and effort to promote good health. We have come to fear obesity to such an extent, that our children are bloody hungry. I see, in shops and on the streets so many babies that are so thin, so tiny, so delicate like porcelain dolls. I ask how old they are and am so shocked at how much older they are than what they look.

Doctors are not helping. Both of my daughters were told by their doctors not to feed their children any solid food until they were 5 or 6 months old. I am so grateful they ignored this advice. Their children got food at two months old and despite Nancy Grace reiterating again and again in the last few days that “babies do not sleep in”, this is not true. Babies can and do sleep in.

When they have had sufficient Pablum to hush hunger demands for eight hours, they will sleep ‘like babies‘ through the night at three months old.

I am just so offended that we do all those seatbelt safety checks, all that monitoring of childhood safety with toys, and bouncers, cribs and highchairs and rockers, and while all this is going on, children are not being adequately fed.

I know what hunger feels like. It is the most anxious, unsettling, empty feeling that one can have. A anxiety that is hard to label and understand. Especially when the child becomes a young toddler and parents are barking, “What’s the matter with you? Stop the whining. You had your supper!”

Meanwhile the clock says half-past midnight, and that very small stomach was last filled at 5:30 p.m. and of course by now is quite empty.

Yes, I am disheartened, sad, and crabby. Anxious and unsettled with a great empty feeling inside. But it is not hunger that makes me feel this way. It is sadness for children who are so helpless, so wholly dependent on our care and good will. I don’t think that legally one adult can force another to diet without ‘permission’, but kids and babies, that’s a whole different story. You must keep them safe, and keeping them safe, is to make sure you never, never, never, feed them as much as they would like.