A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams


media commentary

TEDtalks and Intelligent Information Consumption

I try not to read the news because it makes me sad. However, TED talks are just long enough for me to listen to while I eat my breakfast and usually they’re of a higher quality with real content, so sometimes I’ll indulge.

However, I’ve noticed a marked decline in the quality of even the TEDs since they first came out. When I was a graduate student three or four years ago, the talks were these 15 minute summaries of a respected academic’s work. They served as a trailor for getting to know the thinker in greater depth should one choose to do so. Then I noticed some speakers weren’t academics or researchers or even policy makers, they started to include inspirational speakers. I remember one woman talking for 8 out of 15 minutes about how she knew the secret to finding happiness and it was simple, but not easy. It wasn’t until the 12th minute of the talk that I learned that her secret was, “patronize my books and consulting courses to learn more.”

Continue reading “TEDtalks and Intelligent Information Consumption”

The War Within Our Midst

I try not to read the news. It almost always makes me sad. The other day I took a risk and decided, for the first time in half a year, to see what was rolling through my twitter feed. I picked up this article from Films For Action because I trust their coverage to be meaningful.

Source: John Pilger on ISIS: Only When We See the War Criminals In Our Midst Will the Blood Begin to Dry

And it made me sad. It made me so, very, very sad.

Continue reading “The War Within Our Midst”

The Pain Cave?

Source: Digging into the Pain Cave – the psychology of suffering, Part 2 | Ella

Found this series of articles on Ella, Australian cycling website devoted to the more graceful gender. I wanted to comment directly, but their authentication system is too cumbersome (Disqus AND email verification? Next they’re going to send me a differential equation displayed in CAPTCHA). Instead, I’ll just add my thoughts here! Continue reading “The Pain Cave?”

Don’t banish a healthy fear

One of the websites on my morning coffee web-binge list is the Total Women’s Cycling site based out of Britain. They have a decent mix of coverage of professional women’s events, newb advice, product reviews and commuter stuff. Often I wish they would cut out the stupid “7 things you never knew about biking that will secretly make men fall head over heals for you” type bullshit listy stuff, but otherwise they’re pretty cool over there.

This morning they had an article on bike safety tips for commuters:

Cycling safety tips to banish fears about riding on the road – Total Women’s Cycling.

I came into cycling as a commuter in 2006 in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a city overrun by bike commuters and yet it is also extremely dangerous and extremely hostile, particularly to cyclists. The problem in Philadelphia is a combination of outdated narrow streets that carry way too much foot, car and bicycle traffic for people to be able to keep their tempers, and almost no enforcement of traffic safety laws. In Philadelphia a cyclists rides at risk of their life.

When I read articles like this one that suggest it is possible to ride on the road without fear, my hair raises. Whenever I rode in Philadelphia I would tell people it was always with “a healthy fear of death.” I don’t think it’s safe for cyclists to be fearless because that would mean they are not awake and aware of the actual danger that they are in. In other words, fearless cyclists should only exist when the roads are well and truly safe for them.

Road rage, potholes, drunk drivers, “arukisumaho” (Japanese for “people walking while looking at their smart phones”), and even patches of debris on the road are all potentially life threatening hazards for a cyclist. A cyclist who isn’t at least somewhat on guard will not be ready to react to these hazards when they do arise, and arise they most certainly will. Fear, after all, heightens our senses and our reflexes to protect ourselves.

There is no feeling quite as wonderful as getting into a flow on your bicycle. There is a place that my bike and I can go to where our cadence becomes steady, our form crisp, our handling rhythmic. There is nothing but us and the steady hum of our tires down the pavement. I cherish these moments on my bike and I wish for all to be able to discover their own. However, these moments are special and I save them for deserted mountain back roads or late nights when the traffic is nearly nonexistent and all the pedestrians are home. These are not moments to be had when sharing the road. When sharing the road, one should always take with them their healthy fear of death. This is the safest way to ride.

Comprehending Swine

I was talking to the Pigs* this morning and he told me about a story that had been making the rounds of facebook. A woman was disillusioned with her job and three years ago walked out to go on vacation. She never went back and she is still vacationing. Primarily she lives off her savings, hitch hikes and couch surfs, but she will occasionally work along the way. I have no idea how she does this, but I desperately want to know!

Most of the facebook comments, however, were derisive in the fashion most typical of online forums. Anonymity assholification is what I call it; it is the phenomenon where otherwise perfectly decent human beings act like complete jerks because the anonymity gives them courage to act out. People said that it wasn’t a real three-year vacation because she had to work sometimes. Others said she could only do it because of her white privilege. Very few comments were positive and the majority of them were banal, overused and hardly relevant to the actual story. The Pigs said to me that it made him sad to see how the vast majority of the world still isn’t ready to accept that there is another way to find happiness outside of the rat race that’s killing us all.

I said to him “it’s pearls before swine.” I am not much of a Bible quoter, though ironically I reference the Bible more now that I have quit Christianity than I ever did as a follower. The wisdom in this passage is this: If you have pearls and you throw them before a heard of swine, they will just swallow them and shit them out with the other food they forage for. Swine will eat anything, and it all turns to shit. I’m not sure that Jesus used the same phrasing, but I think “pearls to shit” has impact. The beautiful story of a woman with the courage to walk away from the Standard Narrative and forge her own path, when it was posted on facebook, became a pearl that was quickly swallowed by the masses of swine that populate the Interwebs.

In my own life I feel as though I have collected, discovered and refined great swaths of pearls in the form of experience, knowledge and wisdom. I want to share them with the world. I want to show the people around me that there is a way to have happiness and, while it is not easy, it is very simple to do.

The reality that I face, though, is that most people are simply not ready. I could give them one of my pearls and they wouldn’t know it from a moth ball. For me, right now, the challenge is to find the people who want to hear my message. There is no use in fighting with those who are grounded in opposition, however I am sure there are people, like the woman who is still on vacation, who would like to hear what I have to say. Maybe she knows something that I don’t, but I am sure that even those who have begun to forge their own paths to happy would still appreciate having the company and the communion from another who also deviates.

I had another moment of a similar nature earlier today. In realizing that my relationship with the Giant store had come to an end, I felt that I needed to give voice to my feelings and share them with those involved. So I sent a message to Thunder explaining to him that I was going to separate myself from him and the shop because I felt unneeded and unappreciated. He wrote back to me a message I have heard many times before, “I don’t know why you’re so upset, but do what you have to.” It’s a common reply from boys who don’t want to acknowledge that something they are doing could be causing pain to another. I stewed on the message over night. Of course it hurt to be brushed off after sharing my honest feelings and I was mad. I was also frustrated that, even as it is often incredibly difficult to find the right words in English, I had to do this in Japanese and still he refused to help me even in communicating.

In the end I realized that I was dealing with another case of swine. I believe in love. I believe in the fundamental goodness of people. It is a habit of mine to react to people with love and empathy, to try to understand their perspective and why they behave the way they do, and to avoid passing judgment on them as Good or Bad. But swine do not understand about love. They believe in Good and Evil and Winners and Losers. They believe that when people disagree someone is right and someone is wrong. They don’t understand that sometimes both people can want the same things and still be unable to find a solution.

If you give your love to swine, you will just get shit in return. Ironically, I don’t blame the swine for this, either. It is just their nature. It still hurts, though. I think it hurts even more because if I could say, “you are a terrible person!” then I could feel as if my loss was not so great. After all, who mourns the loss of shit? No one. But the loss of something beautiful that, try as you might, you could never fully own though it had been flitted before your eyes repeatedly, and tauntingly? This is truly painful.

Part of me still hopes that what I am saying is not true. Part of me still hopes that this beautiful thing that once seemed available to me is not actually gone. It is the same part of me that hopes that the world will one day wake up and hear my message: You can have freedom, you can have love, you can have happiness, and you can have all of it right now. All you have to do is want it: see it, want it, reach out and take it. It’s that simple.

And yet, again I find myself standing with arms full of pearls and no one but swine to give them to.

Continue reading “Comprehending Swine”

Intimacy and Spirituality

Intimacy and Spirituality are basic human rights!

The issue of gay marriage has been decided in my lifetime! I never thought this day would come!


Images from an Ecosia search “pride rainbow.” Hope this is legal…

In Need of Hope

I just watched this interview of Edward Snowden by John Oliver. Two comments:

1.) How is it that we have gotten so deep into this mess? It’s not that we haven’t known or cared about the dangers of government intrusion in our lives, but why is it that that hasn’t been enough to protect us? It frightens me to no end.
2.) John Oliver is a teaching genius. It’s not about whether you are correct or accurate, it’s about whether or not you get your message across. And you know what? Dick pics.

Feeling Cheated Out of My Happy

Ok, I have got to rant here. I’m dicking around on the web this morning, as I am wont to do, and I come across this article:

How to Slow Down Your Life and Enjoy the Ride — Right Now

And you know what advice it offers? Don’t bother reading, I can give it to you right here.

Live mostly for today, less for tomorrow, and almost never about yesterday.

That’s right, people. The way to slow down and enjoy the moment is to live in the moment that’s happening now, not the other ones. See? And you thought the way to enjoy NOW was to wallow in the past while constantly reminding yourself that the future could be even worse. Silly you.

Fuck That (Reparations)

Saw a link to this essay claiming that it was going to jumpstart a movement as grand as the gay rights movement. It claims that “America will never be whole” as long as it holds this debt to the poor black man, compounded with over 435 years of interest.

Well fuck that! The entire fucking globe has shat on my kind for centuries, nay millenia! The Ancient Jews of Before Christ were bartering my kind for livestock, punishing our rapists with our hand in marriage, throwing us to the wolves to save their hairy stank asses from getting rammed instead. And Jesus didn’t exactly fix things. Modern Christians flog us endlessly for Original Sin, accuse us of murder for trying to control our own bodies, guilt us out of life and liberty with sad images of our neglected children. We are the cause of our enemies’ moral failings and we must give up our faces and our identities in order to protect them from punishment.

The fucking President of the United States is a fucking Black Motherfucking Sausage Swinger.

But who is calling for our reparations?

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