Friday, November 28, 2008

Episode 3: Enjoy Poverty

Renzo Martens stikes me as a bit of a prat. After sitting through his documentary film, Enjoy Poverty, I don't think I like him. But I did like his film. Or specifically, I'm glad I've seen it.

His movie makes you think. Cruel or kind, accept or reject, his message is clear and needs to be heard. The poor of Africa will remain poor. He shows how workers' children starve and foreign aid organizations protect the natural resources but not the people. To be employed on a plantation in the Congo is to be enslaved to a life of poverty.

His suggested solution? If it isn't going to change, then let's convince the people to enjoy their poverty. He asserts that their poverty is itself a natural resource, a commodity bought and sold by outside interests, and that since it isn't going away everyone should just try to enjoy it.

Scenes alternate between Renzo with a generator and portable neon "(Please) Enjoy Poverty" sign and scenes of poverty, starvation, death and rotting bodies.

"Is it art or is it a documentary? That is for you to decide." So said the announcer who opened the viewing last night at the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam. Well it is a documentary. About a bratty little "artist" who travelled the Congo and filmed. He filmed Africa. And he self-indulgently filmed himself. And he filmed the other photographers who in turn photographed him and his sign. And as you sit in the audience, you get it. It's not subtle.

There are serious problems with the way poverty is handled. Our old solutions are now institutions and they largely support themselves; not the poor. We either need to change things, or we need to convince a lot of people, to Enjoy Poverty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Do It

Dance! Express your self through the motion of your arms. Move your hips, first quickly and then slowly, just to prove you know how. And step. Move those feet Charlie Brown. Step away from the wall and join the crowd. It won’t hurt, much.

Or better yet, dance naked in your living room!

I like to move at the club, but nothing beats the total freedom of the living room. No judgement, no worries, no bad moves. Just dance. Movement for the sake of movement.

Dancing at home is completely spontaneous. As planned as the random music. It doesn’t usually start naked, expect perhaps after a particularly rockin shower. But the moves quickly build up heat, and no one else is around, so why not shed a little? Before you know it your spirit is in complete control of your body. There’s a 97% chance you look a fool. But that’s not relevant for as we all know, if a fool dances in a forest and no one is around to tease him, then he’s not really foolish, simply dancing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's say it was a dream...

We met at the start of a walk. And as we went I was in awe of the way you moved. You didn't walk forward, you spun and twirled and cartwheeled your way. And I followed.

And I picture that on the way the path became thick with trees and rocks. Yet still you managed to twirl and dance. Each tree unheaded, yet moved past like a dancer moves with their partner. Imagine how happy is the cork to bob in the river. It cares not, knowing it will never sink. Oh what pretty patterns it makes.

You told me not to worry. To just be in the now, and not worry of the futures. And I looked at you and saw all that is beautiful in the universe.

Our path became sloped. The land rose to one side and dropped on the other. And yet you danced. A boulder, a rock, a hole, a branch, all these, and you dance. Some how I watch you move through this maze, carefree. Twirling and telling me not to worry. To be in the now. To stop planning the future.

And I look at you and know you must be mine.

And our path becomes a ledge. I move against the rock and wish I'd brought better shoes. The drop on the other side is clearly deadly, and yet you twirl. I look at you and cannot believe. And you look back and cannot understand.

I step forward and the rocks give way. The ledge is in two and we are apart. I cannot proceed. You look at me, confused by my shock and horror. You hold out your hand. When I give you my hand you pull me forward, I have no choice and my foot goes...

Into soft ground covered in grass. We're standing in a beautiful field of soft grass and sun. Holding hands.

"We're standing in a field," I say.

"Well of course. Where did you think we were?"

"Oh, I was just uhm... not listening properly, Kedves. Sorry."

Then a subtle tickle in my head. A spark of an idea, half thought, half felt. "There are many ways to see it. This is what I choose to share. Focus on the what is, rather than the might-not."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baby Love Child, Groovey Love Child

"I know you love me most, no one else take my place."

This song makes me cry. Don't know why.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dear Mr. Gates

Dear Mr. Gates,

Please accept this posting as my official request to have a week of my life back. I would either like the time fully returned to me or payment in lieu for IT services. I am an ICT professional so I expect proper rates to apply.

I'm sorry I don't have a detailed accounting of my time, but I have been fully engaged, for more than a week, with the sole goal of installing your Microsoft Windows XP computer operating system. In that time I have booted from my legitimately purchased Windows DVD perhaps 2 dozen times. This is not easy, since your software doesn't recognize my hard drive. Once inside your software, via the DVD I have selected the option of using the Recovery Panel a number of times. But the Recovery Panel looks an awful lot like the C:/ prompt. Staring at it doesn't ever fix the problem. I've loaded the actual operating system at least 8 times now, half as a repair to an existing installation and half starting with a disk format and reload from scratch. Thanks to these reloads I've loaded service packs one and two at least four times. And I've loaded service pack three once or twice.

The problem is the software. The basic OS works. SP1 seems to install and work. SP2 installs. But once it asks me to reboot at the end, it rarely returns.

Isn't it amusing when a software upgrade wipes out the files the OS needs to boot? Haha, very good, got me there.

If upgrading the software must destroy my system, then can you please stop presenting me with minute by minute reminders to download or install updates? Or even better, could you consider producing software that actually works? Based upon the amounts you owe me, for my time, and no doubt also everyone else, please sell your next software release for $1 and include a shiny new $100 bill in each box. Failing this, please compensate me for my time. Or failing this, please at least allow me to use my computer again. If there is a ransom you wish paid, I have not received the note.

Your humble slave in economics,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pain and Growth

Last night I was on the floor, in an odd position with my partner, telling her," That hurts, keep doing that." There might have been a "harder" in there somewhere too.

No, don't send the children out of the room. I'm speaking, of course, of the stretching exercises from karate class. It's frightening to stretch muscles that, if pulled, can end a baseballer's career. Especially when you're as inflexible (physically) as I am.

The stretching was tough, but the kicking hurt more. I learned all kinds of new things, such as, did you know that kicking hurts more than being kicked? I would never have guessed this, but as I limped home I discovered this truth. The thirty or fourty hard kicks to the mat on the wall left far more damage to myself than the few times a training partner tried to knock the wind out of me.

Hmmm. Wait, that's misleading. The training partner wasn't trying to hurt me. But the sensei actually separated us and had her practice alone. The goal of "kick forwards and place your foot at your partner's stomach" was instead practiced as "kick forwards". A foot suddenly flew past my nose. The next went towards a knee. A few went for the previously-mentioned difficult-to-stretch area.

I'm learning how to jump backwards very effectively!

This morning I'm relishing all the painful bits. They show me where I was weak but am now growing. A long-time exercise masichist, I take pleasure from this. So it caught my eye when Google presented a page where a person asked if they could learn karate without pain. Huh? Perhaps with a Wii. Like learning to drive in your living room or exploring the ocean from a book.

The little painful bits in our lives are all opportunities for growth. Be it muscular or mental, success could be defined as being able to see the good that follows each of life's pains. It's good practice and a good life skill because rarely are the worthwhile things found along the easy path.