Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not fast enough?

This is an interesting article and it really makes me think about the implications/consequences of our fast-paced, instant gimme world we live in. If anything, it makes me ill, but at the same time it's very difficult to buy out of this lifestyle - as once you do, you're on the outs and no longer have that commonality with your friends (ie: facebook and myspace relationships, texting, blogging, etc.) Honestly, I'd much rather talk in person or on the phone (it just feels more personable to me), but it seems any more the only way people choose to stay connected is via the internet. It really can be a double bind...

Give it a read and share your thoughts...

July 31, 2008
Angelina Jolie and the superfast generation
Nothing happens quickly enough for us anymore
Carol Midgley from Times online

Which, do you think, is the most depressing part of the following story? Angelina Jolie, according to Us Weekly magazine (not necessarily to be believed) and about four million websites (even less to be believed), used IVF to conceive her twins not because she needed to but because she didn't have the patience to get knocked up in the normal, grunty-grunt way. She chose the procedure, says the alleged source, because she wanted more children more quickly, and “wouldn't have to deal with the stress of trying to get pregnant. She could just knock it out”. Aah, bless.

So, is it worse that a) instant gratification is so normal that people now require an immediate, copulation-free foetus in the same way that they might open a packet of Mr Mash to save the time it takes to boil three potatoes, or b) that it is considered a chore to have sex with Brad Pitt?
On balance I'd say the former (although Brad's gorgeousness arguably peaked in Fight Club). Because wanting to accelerate every human experience is the sickness of the age. Whether the story is true or not (it hasn't been confirmed by Brangelina's camp), it is an extreme version of how we lead our own fast-forward lives, speed-reading our children's bedtime stories, lipo-sucking because we're too impatient to diet, reading the review instead of the whole book to save time, time, time. Nothing - literally nothing - happens quickly enough for us anymore.

Who has not mentally machine-gunned a dawdling Sunday driver or rasped “come on, come ON” because Google took 1.2 seconds to come up with 177,276 search results rather than the usual 0.5? A friend, frustrated by ambling old dears who block the pavement slowing him down on his way to work, often imagines they are evil penguins in a computer game which he zaps with a harpoon because “they've got all day to buy KiteKat whereas I need to be somewhere, OK?” I cannot judge him for I frequently fantasise about Tasering people who, having just used a cash machine, continue to stand there and Put. Everything. Back. In. Their. Purses. Very. Slowly, as if the rest of us in the queue are just standing there to take the night air.

Which is why Barack Obama stands out like a welcome beacon of zen. This week in an overheard aside to David Cameron he confided that “the most important thing you need to do is have big chunks of time during the day when all you're doing is thinking”. Without that, he said, “you lose the big picture”.

You can say that again, Barack. A thousand fist bumps to you. Such as when you find yourself upstairs compulsively checking your spam-filled e-mail inbox when you could be watching Harry Hill's TV Burp with your family downstairs. Or when the passenger on a train stares fixatedly at the ghost-white screen of his BlackBerry for the entire journey, oblivious to the beautiful sunset outside.

The super-busy are so often the dullest people because they don't think, they only “do”, skimming the surface of life in a shallow feast of 15-minute windows seldom reflecting, not even for a moment, on what any of it means.

A recent study by the British Council which timed pedestrians walking in cities across the world concluded that the speed of life is 10 per cent faster than in the early 1990s. Last month it was reported that “65 per cent of young professionals are ‘too busy' for friends”, preferring virtual Facebook interaction to the real thing.

This will be no shock to those of us accustomed to phoning friends and quickly realising they are writing e-mails throughout the conversation. Clickety click clack, they go while making vague sounds of feigned interest such as “mmm, mmm, sounds great” when you've just told them your dog is on fire. It's like trying to talk to the teenager whose distracted glaze says: “Whatever, fogey, wind it up. I just heard my phone beep and if I don't read that text which probably says something really important like ‘Gr8! lol x' I might actually die.”

But this dim, distracted impatience of the hurrysick, multitasking generation who live “full” lives but aren't actually “there” for them is not peculiar to teenagers. No, no. Check out the sallow pockets of light now dotted around theatres as pig-ignorant audiences check their BlackBerries throughout the performance.

In his essay Is Google Making us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr observes that he now seems less able to engage himself deeply in long, complicated narratives or arguments. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski,” he says. It's so obviously true. Anyone who doubts that our attention spans are dwindling is seriously...oh, who cares? I sometimes find myself talking to two-year-olds and having to stop myself saying: “Yes, yes, but what's your point?”

In his new book, The Dumbest Generation, Mark Bauerlein argues that the internet has habituated people into “juvenile mental habits”, where they don't have to stick with anything that bores them and so use it mainly not to stimulate or educate themselves but to stay in a constant, illiterate cycle of inane social chat on Facebook and MySpace. Is it coincidence that, as he reports, two thirds of US undergraduates now score above average on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, up 30 per cent since 1982?

Oh, can't we stop all this and just have a cup of tea and a Gregg's pasty instead? Maybe, if Obama becomes President, he can lead the Western world into a collective Slow Movement where you get shot in the legs if you run up escalators. Maybe he could start by going round to Brangelina's with some incense sticks, a giant Toblerone and the box set of Murder, She Wrote and tell them both to chill the hell out.

After all, if two of the “hottest” people in the world get together, take each other off the market and then (allegedly) fail to have sex at every opportunity, that should probably be made illegal.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yesterday was...

I'll just say yesterday was a "cranky day" and leave it at that. Here's praying today will fair better!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My kind of quirky!

Well, I'm happy to say I'm no longer the only remaining soul on the planet who still hasn't seen Juno!! I really had wanted to see it when it came out in theaters, but for one reason or another I just never did get around to it. In anycase, I watched it on dvd last night and absolutely looooved it!!! It was totally my kind of quirky in all aspects of the film right down to the the phenomenal song tracks!! Honestly I wasn't sure whether I'd like this flick or not, but after seeing it, there's no doubt in my mind about the excellence of this film. The story is engaging, the characters very likable (I really liked Juno a lot...she was just so fiesty and spicy! Ellen Page just nailed the role and now I understand why she was up for an Oscar nod), and the emotionality is on point. Many of the negative reviews seem to criticize the film for not taking the emotional toll of teenage pregnancy into account. Seriously, these people must have left early or fell asleep, because once Juno gives birth, I see the difficulty she has with giving up her baby (didn't they notice the tears she cried?) Consequently, while she may have appeared tough-skinned and gruff throughout the film, I ultimately do see that the issue does get to her. And beyond the "teen gets pregnant and gives baby to breaking apart married couple" plot device, I think the story is so much more about the deeper, mental journey Juno goes (or more like waddles) through and only to come closer to understanding herself and the world in which she lives in a bit better. The movie really had an optimistic ending; when things get hard, just hold on, and do what you think is right. The things and people who are worth sticking with will be there when its over.

And of course I could talk forever about all the social issues that stem from this movie.......and maybe that's what we should take from watching Juno...the chance to talk to each other, or our older kids about how we feel on the many issues that could be raised from this movie. Why in the world did Juno and Bleeker have sex, much less unprotected sex in the first place? The whole abortion debate... The question on whether Juno and Bleeker would have made better parents in the end than the Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman characters, (and it was a little too weird having Bateman's character acting attracted to a pregnant Juno.) The idea that putting a child up for adoption can be a real good thing at times, yes. But the leaving the father totally out of all the decisions and thinking on the baby, no. 'Nough said and point made.

All in all I'm glad this movie was made and that I finally got to see it! For me, it's a 4 out of 5.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Prayer....

It occurs to me that I have no right to today. No right to my plans, no right to my appointments. If I am allowed to do anything on my list for today, it will be a blessing from you. Today is not mine, it is yours, so, I give it to you. Help me to speak kindly today and not get caught up in any gossip monging. Help me to do things that are good for my family today. I reject busyness. I reject hurry and worry. I reject anger and vengeance. Help me to reflect your amazing grace today. I pray for daily bread and I thank you for daily breath. I thank you for my friends. Seriously, I've won the friend lottery. I love you, I appreciate you and I thank you for today and everyday. In your precious and groovy name, Amen!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Say this 3 times fast!

Here's a 24 letter tongue-twister for you "issumagijoujungnainermik"!! And honest, I didn't make it up. Believe it or not, it means forgiveness in the Eskimo language. Literally it means "not being able to think about it any more." I thought it was pretty cool!

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to read a book

Here is a quote from Mortimer Adler, author of the classic How to Read a Book. In this piece he explains the importance of making a book your own.

"There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.

Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers — unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books — a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many — every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) …

But the soul of a book “can” be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini’s score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores — marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them—is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author."

So what type of book owner are you? For myself, I'm a major carnavore of books and they do become very much a part of my being as I shamelessly spinebend, dogear, highlight, underline, and jot notes in the margins. My books are never the same after I live in them! But likewise, I'm changed to differing degrees by them and their content as well. I think that's maybe why I think books are such personal possessions and why I never loan them to one would be able to decifer them with all my markings! ; )

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wanted, the movie

I really enjoyed this flick! It’s fast, it’s fun, and it involves an office worker with the crappiest life ever grabbing hold of his destiny with both hands and doing something about it...albeit a tad far fetched and rather bloody for my taste. Definitely a bit daft, but if you like a spot of semi-mindless entertainment, some good special effects, and of course some glamorous peeps driving fast cars and shooting lots of guns this would be it. I'd say it’s a combination of Fight Club, The Matrix, and 300 all rolled into one. There are some pretty ridiculous/ hilarious moments, perfect for an action film. It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously which actually makes it enjoyable. The visuals are very nice, and there is a slight comic book aesthetic to it which I always enjoy. And James MacAvoy is so fantastic!! I've been enjoying his work since Shameless and I am glad he's doing so well these days and gets to pick the roles he wants to do.

Monday, July 7, 2008

do the right thing

always do the right thing.
it seems obvious. but sometimes it is HARD. really, really hard.
so hard you can’t eat and you just want to throw up.
so hard it may take you a while to get there.
so hard your mind could be filled with what-if and consumed by fear.
so hard your life as you know it might never be the same.
the old adage is true - the longer the agony, the deeper the pain.
don’t wait. do the right thing. do it as soon as you can.

Please, tell me another story!

"God loves you; you matter to him. That is a fact, stated as a proposition. I imagine most of you have heard it any number of times. Why, then, aren't we the happiest people on earth? Because it hasn't reached our hearts. Facts stay lodged in the mind for the most part. They don't speak at the level we need to hear. Proposition speaks to the mind, but when you tell a story, you speak to the heart. We've been telling each other stories since the beginning of time. It is our way of communicating the timeless truths, passing them down." ~ John Eldredge; Waking the Dead; pgs. 23-24
I love this quote because it further reminds me why stories are so critical to sinking this truth - "God loves me; I matter to him" deep down into my heart causing me to believe it with my whole being. Unfortunately, too often this truth dislodges from my heart and floats right back up to my head! : (