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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Eurovision that I love/hate!

Our first full year in Spain was the year 2000. That was the year we first heard of and experienced Fallas. As May rolled around we were still in shock over Fallas when there arose an excitement and expectation over something called Eurovision. The first two run-offs had been held and it was time for the final event. All the buzz was over where would you be to observe the show because it was going to be something to see.

In fact, Eurovision celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. It is a big event, in the same league as football's World Cup, Baseball's World Series, and, in my opinion it stands above all of the talent shows. This is the real event between countries that try to send their absolute best.

I have come to hate the event at the same time as I love it because of the intrusion of politics. tThat becomes evident in the voting process, yet it is still wonderful to see such diverse countries finally come together to choose a winner.

As everybody now knows, Sweden was the overall winner for 2015. I don't feel strongly against them, but my personal choice was Italy, the very last country to present their song. My reasoning is that they did not rely on special stage effects as part of their presentation, but rather it was all about the music. Three males, in the style of the Three Sopranos, sang their hearts out in an absolute splendid performances that was strong, inspired, and fabulous. They made magic, but the voting placed them third, behind Sweden and Russia. I did agree that the Russian song was splendid, but for me, Putin and the Ukraine kept getting in the way of my enjoyment of it. Politics do matter, but this was one case where politics was overcome.

Spain's Edurne presented a very serious competitive song that belonged in the first five, or at least the first ten final places, but instead it finished in 21st place. It is a memorable song performed by a highly talented young woman who will go far, but without the political support it had to settle for what it got. Having said
 that Austria was the host country because of Conchita, a man in drag who aced the competition last year by signing a flawless song, as a woman. This year, Austria didn't get one point, which suggests that their entry would have been disqualified had not Austria been the host country. Worse than that, Germany also failed to get one point. We have no excuse for that.

I have come to the conculsion that in order to win you must present a grade AAA song in a manner that will stick in the voters minds. Last year it was Conchita, the bearded lady that no-one could forget. This year it was Sweden with a song that was delightful, but that I no longer remember the tune, but I do remember the cartoon that accompanied it. I will probably still remember that by the time next year's Eurovision comes around, so clever was it.

Perhaps the award should have gone to the creator of the cartoon.

Eurovision. Love it or hate it, but it is not to be ignored.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Unequal pay for equal work

The year is 2015. In this year people rely on sixth generation smartphones; wearable communication devices, self-drive cars that can even race themselves, and worldwide connections at the touch of a button. In other words, we are living in a smart,connected world, but those of us who live in the leading edge nations continue to do some really stupid things. There are many practices that have been carried over from the darker ages of our ignorance. Today, I focus on only one that is long overdue for radical change because there is no logical reason why it remains solidly in place.

Approximately 55 years ago I recall having a conversation in a sports club with a man who was the personnel officer of the electrical monopolyin my country. He said that he was receiving a constant stream of applications from females who wanted to do man's work as linesman, etc. To his mind this was an unhealthly trend where women no longer seemed to know their place.

I said that I thought it was probably driven by the need for such women to earn a realistic wage to look after their children that had been fathered by men who had moved on without financially looking after them.

That was 55 years ago, at a time when we didn't even have a jail for females in my country who society thought incapable of committing crimes. Times have changed drastically. Now women have shown that they are capable of  working alongside men in every way. They also make capable world leaders, but yet their compensation packages are routinely set below those paid to men. Why?

White men seem to think that the role of captain of industry is a role reserved for them. A white man will more likely receive the support of his bank than anyone else. That propels him into the managing director's seat, and from there he gets to make decisions that affect a lot of people's lives. One of those decisions is that he should pay other white men more in compensation than any other staff members because that props up the myth of white male superiorty. He sees a woman's place as being in the home. She should have a husband who is the head of family, and the principal breadwinner, so if she insists on working she only needs enough of an income to assist him.

In 2015, the truth of the matter is that in many societies we humans decide whether we even want to go the family route. We are independent thinkers and decide for ourselves what lifestyle we want. Our private lives are our own. Our professional lives are another matter. If a woman brings equal skills to the table then surely she should be paid the scale equal to a man for that skillset. A company that imposes other social related considerations upon her that are antiquated is itself a fossil. It also hurts its own bottom line because if you can get the level of work required for a lower compensation, why on earth would you pay more?

We probably all make the mistake of thinking that the boardroom is a place where serious, advanced, and adult thinking takes place. Not necessarily! Maybe it will take the old farts departure into retirement and the grave before more modern thinking can prevail.

 It would be wonderful if such modern and sensible thinking came from a woman CEO!

Copyright (c) 2015   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Taste of Global Warming!

Ever since time began the earth's weather has been cyclical. There has been an Ice Age, followed by periods of dry, hot, arid temperatures, with the in-betweens signifying the transitions. We are warned that the earth has entered into a period of global warming, yet there are those who steadfastly refuse to believe it. Perhaps that is because it really is one of those truths that are inconvenient.

This past week, the Valencian Comunity got a taste of what is to come. Fortunately it only lasted for one terrifying day, and what a day it was.

The forecast warned that a frontal system was moving up from the Sahara bringing with it a dust storm and intense heat. We expected the system to descend upon us on Thursday, May 14th. Probably most people closed up their homes tightly upon going out in the morning. I went to work in the market place in LLiria, and fortunately I had a secluded and shaded spot, but just after twelve the wind got up, the heat suddenly rose, and in the sky, there hung a grey/brown pall which was a combination of smoke from fires that had broke out and the dust fog, a smog, in fact.

The effect on the crowds in the market was the same as if it had started to rain. We gathered up our stuff and headed for the hills. If you can think of a giant turbine that throws out intense wind and heat, being in the midst of the system on Thursday afternoon would have been like just standing behind the turbine and sucking it up.

By the time I arrived home my dog and one of my cats were quite disturbed. They had no idea what was going on. I scooped them up and took them inside and turned on the A/C. I suspect my other cat had taken refuge in the downstairs apartment, where he lives on his own. I spent the afternoon with the two animals watching, and in their case, listening and sleeping through movies.

If you did not have A/C I find it difficult to imagine how you got through it. The official temperature for Valencia was 41.5 degrees centigrade, however, one prominent spot registered 50 degrees; another 48, others 42, 44, and 46. Deaths of humans were recorded, especially of homeless people that were suspected to have been because of the overwhelming heat.

It seems that the streets were unusually free of traffic, and for good reason: it actually hurt to be exposed as though you were experiencing direct fire. I never did take note as to whether there were any people at the beach lying naked in the sun.

This was just a one-day taste of things to come. During the height of the day in Summer it gets hot enough to send all who can, to have a siesta. But, we are not yet in Summer. This is Spring!


Copyright (c) 2015   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Beautiful People

I sometimes get to thinking about the lives of super beautiful and handsome people, and how different those lives could be from my own. I would describe myself as never having been more than average, although I also never had trouble pulling females. I have been guilty of thinking I was God's gift to women of the world, but in reality I was never model material. My son is; and does model clothing and is a part-time actor in television commercials. I'm happy for him and hope it will lead him to success.

What got me thinking about Beautiful/Handsome people is the question: is it a blessing or a curse to be a man, admired by your fellow males and desired by women; and a woman so strikingly perfect that you just know that probably every man (and some women)  coming towards you wants to get their hands on you?

I think that if you are a person who can ignore the attributes you have and keep your feet planted solidly on the ground so that you live an ordinary life, then I imagine it would neither be blessing or curse. The fact of the matter is that in The United States of America and Canada, where beauty is an art form, there are lots of people who fall into that special class.

There are opportunities for beautiful people to take advantage of their looks to advertise stuff, or to get themselves in the movies because beauty and good looks are real saleable commodities. The most obvious place to sell oneself is the movies, but being good eye candy is not enough, you must be a good actor.

My two all-time favourite actors are Hallie Berry, and John Travolta. They both have been featured in some great films, as well as some failures. While their looks and personalities added greatly to their successful works, their flops were not saved in any way because they looked good.

Is it even possible for a hot personality to have a normal life? A normal life would be described as one where a person can have a relationship with a person who truly loves you, and whom you love with all your heart. In such a relationship you both want children, and you trust each other to be true to one another. At least that's the traditional definition. I'm sure people have written different descriptions. There are many relationships between professional people where they don't enter into marriage because they just know that a marriage cannot survive. The problem is simply self-discipline which is difficult enough for all of us ordinary people.

The other thing that many people do with their superb looks is become porn actors. It's not for me to judge, but once you are out there you cannot take it all back if your life takes a turn for the better. Something to think about before the director calls: Action!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Is Homosexuality a free Choice ?????

I have recently heard opinions from two influential persons who have said that, (a) to be gay is a free choice; and (b), being gay is a curable condition. What worries me is that they have followers who are impressionable, so I am responding with an opposite view.

Firstly, there is a very good reason why we live in a world so full of organised chaos: it is because life would be unbearably boring for humans if we had no differences to challenge us. Life is also about balance, where beauty is the opposite balance to ugly, and kindness to cruelty, etc, etc, etc.

When a child is born he/she develops with certain attributes. Some will come as a result of the heritage of the parents, such as skin colour, hair texture, eye colouring, perhaps potential height, and sexual perference will also be factored at that time. The gender of the child is not something that can be chosen with any certainty, and normally the child's sexual preference will only develop over time.

I can only speak to the matter from personal experience as a male, which should suffice as this was what the two individuals were speaking about. If we take history into consideration we have lived through a terrible period when young men discovered what the nature of their sexual preference was, and they chose to live in the closet with it because society, in its collective ignorance,  rejected that people could be wired in such a way that it was something that was completely out of their power to control.   Surely, if it was something that a person  could freely choose, would they not choose the path of least resistance?

If being homosexual or lesbian is an aberration to the normal hetrosexual, is it a condition that can  be cured? I think you might have better success in changing a person's choice of breakfast cereal than making any difference at all to sexual preference.

I put this question to the two men who have made their controversial statements: Are you absolutely certain that you do not have latent homosexual tendencies? And if you answer is yes, how do you know? There have been cases in the past where men have been hugely outspoken against one thing or another, only to find out later that very person was a practioner of the thing he spoke out against.

I am a 100% hetrosexual! I know this because as a young man I have been challenged on more than one occasion by some bug-eyed, horny man who wanted my body for his pleasure. I have had to fight my way out of situations that I could simply not be a participant to, but the easier option, if it were an option would have been to just say yes. I know my sexuality, and I have the bruises to prove it. Do you?

Here's the point: If you are gay or lesbian, than that's who you are and you must live your live for yourself, not for society as a whole, so long as you do not hurt others. If you are a person who believes in one religion, but you fall in love with someone who is outside your faith, if you follow your heart that is to be expected. If you are a person from one racial group and you fall in love with someone from another group, if you follow your heart that is reasonable and is to be expected. If your personal politics are those of one political party and you fall in love with someone from the opposing party, perhaps you should be pitied, but it would be perfectly acceptable to follow your heart.  I have deliberately grouped all of these situations within one section because they are all driven by the same thing: Honesty!

There is nothing to be cured or changed in who as person is, except as the participating persons deem necessary. For you and I, we simply need to mind our own business because our own lives are complicated enough.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael