List of Previous Titles

Saturday, November 28, 2015

African Perspectives: Current and Future

Recently I tuned into a BBC Town Hall meeting which featured a panel consisting a senior physcian/ U.N. High Commissioner; a highly experienced Rwandan Adminitrator, who we will call Louise; and a Lady High Court Judge. These three represented the thinking of future Africa. Historical and current thinking were represented by an opposition political member of Parliament, and one of the loveliest ladies who was perfectly serious in her thinking, but I'm afraid I was so taken with her I didn't get her credentials. I'll call her Marion.

Members of the audience who had been previously chosen put their questions which covereed the following subjects: The status of women in society; The Bride Price; Polygimous marriage; the continuing practice of Female Genital Mutilation; and the prospects for the future of women in Africa.

In my opinion this was probably a broadcast that was inspired by President Obama who had much to say on African traditions and customs that never had any real value to begin with, but that in the 21st century have no place at all. Yet these traditions are honoured as though they were written in stone.

Upon close analysis, not all of the above customs fail to stand the test of modern times. The Future Thinkers were in agreement that the status of women in general throughout Africa leaves a great deal to be desired. In fact it can be said to be scandalous. A lot of work needs to be done in this area, starting first with the men. However, on the subject of Polygimous marriages we have to ask the question: why would a woman want to be the second, third or fourth wife? Can anyone be happy in such a union? I know the man sees lots of ever ready sex available to him, and as this panders to the way in which men are wired it will be tempting. However, the reality must be a very different matter.

The Bride Price is quite controversial because in practice a family try to get as much as they can from a prospective son-in-law, so it really does sound a lot like the selling of the bride. Having said that, many other cultures are guilty of this attitude as well.

Clearly, the subject of the evening was going to be Female Genital Mutilation. Lovely Ms. Marion said that as a young child her mother spared her from the operation as she was too young to choose. When she turned 21 she felt that this was something she should undergo under proper conditions. (Bloody Hell!)  Consequently she requested the operation be carried out, and she was there to say that it is not nearly as bad as critics seem to think, and that she does not consider it a mutilation.

The esteemed physcian pointed out that in his opinion we should call it mutilation; senseless mutilation, and having been presented in his profesional capacity with many complications he had never seen one that was even competently completed. As humans we are constructed in a certain way. True, we men have one or two pieces of equipment that are surplus to requirements, but in general are bodies are perfect. The cutting off of perfectly healthy tissue, when you don't even know why you are doing it is the height of stupidity. Then, when things go wrong, as in the case of botched circumcisions on infants, the problem lasts a lifetime.

The program ended on a hopeful note with the agreement of everyone on the panel, including Ms. Marion, that attitudes are changing towards women and that the future will quite naturally mean more respect and involvement in all levels for them.

From my point of view, I think we just have to believe that. Women are the last major class of oppressed citizens, and supposedly enlightened men find reasons for paying them less than their true value. That is an embarrassement for us all.

"Until we are all free, none of us are free."

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael


Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Sexy-Less Woman

A beautiful woman is just that. She turns heads when she passes, and in spite of the golden rule of not judging a book by its cover, our first impression as men is that we want her. The fact is that every woman is a beautiful woman in the eys of the man who finds value in her. In fact, the woman whose beauty is on the surface should be less desirable than the ordinary woman. It's tough having a woman who is stunningly beautiful because you know that every man wants her for himself.

When she says she is going to the hairdressers, do you believe her? When she says she is having lunch with her girlfriend, should you believe her? This causes insecurity and leads to discord in the relationship.

As young men and women, we are programmed instinctively to search out someone with whom to procreate the species. Women are more selective than men. We are the lions of the human world, and if we had our choice we would go about sowing our seeds indiscrimately. For us this is a major problem because life doesn't work that way. Once we help to start a new life, consideration must be given to its care and maintenance. In the Western world the norm is that one man and one woman should come together and rasie a family.

Although I'm talking about the relationships between a man and a woman, the same can be said about same-sex couples. They want the same things, although with some modifications on how to go about getting it.

The point I'm getting at is that a man is driven by his sexual urge and his whole life is about sex. In fact, it is to such an extent that it becomes a real problem, as we've seen in some well publicised cases.

Then, all of a sudden the urge just stops. You may be surrounded by women but somehow they've changed. Your eyes still see what there is to see. Beautiful faces, lovely boobs, hips and bums that move ever so jelly-like, but there's something seriously missing. There's no stirring in the groin, no panting wish to posses her, no nothing. You simply say, "Hello", without having to think of the follow up line that catches her attention.

As a man you have spent your life doing your bit to procreate in your image, but now your time has come to relax. Well done, my son. It's time to hang up your skates and let the younger generation take over the responsibility. So now, women no longer have to be pursued by you. Early in my life every girl I spent time with resulted in sex before the evening was over. Then came change. I spent an evening with a lovely person, and at the point where I would start my seduction I said to her, "would you mind if we simply said goodnight at this point. I would really like to have sex with you, but let's get to know one another a little better."  She replied, with evident relief, "that's a very good idea!"  For the rest of the night I asked myself, " what just happened??"

Now that we are a lot older, when the urge leaves us we change from being the eternal sex machine to a simple decent human being. At first, some of us may look at things slightly different, such as wishing that our Pilates teacher would give the class naked. Or perhaps the woman police office who arrested us did so in her panties and bra. But in time we get over that.

This is the time in our lives when women become unsexy. They become people who are talented and intelligent and capable of achieving great things. Not once do they have to bother about doing the sex thing, and we respect them.

Then, there's that group who are never contented. That's that viagra generation who say,"shucks, I'm just getting started."  I guess hope springs eternal.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"A Tale too terrible to Tell."

I have spent a wonderful week in Munich, Bavaria, Germany attending a business Launch for Forever Green, in Europe. This is a tale that would be wonderful to tell, should I do so, but in planning to attend it never crossed my mind for a nano-second that Munich is the city that gave birth to the Nazi party, and Dachau is the concentration camp that served as the model for all the concentration camps that followed.

I know the story of Dachau, but I only realised where I was upon noting that the town of Dachau is a stop along the S2 metro line. I won't ask you to imagine my surprise when I discovered this, but being so close I gave in to temptation and paid a visit to the site. I was certain it would be emotive for me as I had no idea of what to expect, so many years since it was closed.

Dachau is a fully functiong town, as it always has been. Imagine having your mail sent to you at an address in Dachau. I got off the train only to find that there was absolutely no mention of the concentration camp. There is no visitor's centre, no special buses to the camp, no acknowledgement that the camp even exists nearby.

In fact, the regular bus, number 726 passes the camp and the fare is 1.40 euros one way. Entrance to the camp is free, and it is sufficiently signposted and explained that a person can follow his own tour, which is what I did.

I will not go into any detail here about what went on there. I have borrowed the title from Dachau's own literature, which I found to be true. It really is a part of history that is so awful it would be more convenient to not remember. However, we must never forget because, in spite of being a thoroughly discredited philosphy, there is always the Neo-Nazis standing in the wing. If we forget we run the risk of it all happening again.

To visit Dachau and to pass through the gates with the inscription, "Arbeit Nacht Frei", (Freedom through work) is to descend into the pit of hell. I felt the sting of evil even before I reached the metro stop, and now my heart was pounding and I was muttering explictives over and over again.

We must remember that the police and customs, and other controlling bodies are a draw for people who have tendencies towards controlling other people. That is not to say that all personnel engaged in these types of work are control freaks, but it is likely there will be a number of people who will make this their life's work. When you add to the mix the top administration whose policy is total hatred, that lets loose the devil. For instance, in what they called "The Bunker" there were cells that were used to lock up SS men who failed to show the right spirit. They got beat up and then sent back in with the command, now get it right this time.

The common concept is that concentration camps were used only for Jews. They certainly got the worst of the hatred, but all manner of people were locked up, including other Germans who opposed the Nazis, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other undesireables. However, except for in the beginning before all the real sick stuff started, Dachau seems to have only dealt with men.

In following my way around the camp and reading the descriptions of what went on, I felt drained of my energy, and my body went into spasmodic shock from time to time. In what was described as the interrogation room I placed my hand against the wall and the negative energy that came to me was so powerful I came as close as one can to a full collapse, without collapsing.

As I toured the musuem the sound of voices in despair seemed to follow me. I didn't realise it until about halfway through, yet, as I stood still and listened the sound was not coming from a speaker. I rubbed my hand over the walls, and I closely held the whipping bench. I held on to the bunk beds that had held so many suffering and starving men. I paused at the eating tables and looked from the windows, and I felt such despair and hopelessness. All but two of the barracks have been destroyed. These are for demonstration purposes.

The site was formerly a massive factory complex, complete with high walls that completely encircled the property. I have no idea of how close the neighbours were in 1933, but today the neighbours are right up to the walls. As we walk towards the back of the property we would have come to The Planation, an herb garden that the commandant ran, with inmate work, that he cared very much about. Today, as a counterpoint to all the evil that still overlays this place, there are five religious organisations represented with welcoming space for adherents to rest, contemplate, and to pray.

There is also a single huge bell that chose three-fifteen to sound, just as I was next to it. The sound broke the absolute silence and frightened me out of my wits. I actually ran from it, so startled was I, but I was not alone in doing so. At lease it gave us a welcome laugh.

At the very end are located the cremortoriums, the memorials, and the shooting range where live targets were used. I made the mistake of passing into the disrobing assembly room where people prepared to enter the shower room. I then entered that room, and all I can say is that its a good thing I'm a sturdy person because that was where the people were gassed to death, and the next room was where all the bodies were dragged, preparatory to being thrown into the fire.

I apologize for including this, but so integral was this to what went on that it would have been a lie to leave it out. After experiencing this I needed a half hour  to sit and build up the energy to walk out the gate that I had entered by.

We must remember that so much horror and evil was committed simply because they could. It seems to have been a matter of doing something even worse than the thing you did before. On a scale of horror of 1 to 100, with 100 being the worst of man's inhumanity to man, I place Dachau, and all the other camps I've read about, at 98.9. I simply am leaving room for what is likely to come. As I write this the story of Friday night in Paris is still very fresh in the news where 129 people were slaughtered while going about their business.

I have said before, the human race has become so unbalanced with more evil than good, there must be something coming soon that will correct it.

That will be such a shame because we are naturally living longer with much more quality of life. Trust mankind to make a mess of things just when life is getting better and longer.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Playboy: No nudes and no prudes

When it comes to Playboy I am super opinionated. I can claim to have bought the first issue, which blew my mind and changed so many views and opinions about sex and women, it would be very difficult for anyone to fully quantify the damage to society.

Before Playboy, my view of women was that they were a very special mystery, and that they deserved my respect. You see, my mother was a woman and I respected her. In my society women were held on a pedestal. They dressed very conservativly, and they behaved that way as well.

The Muslim society today treat their women in the same way. By covering themselves from head to toe they are available only for their husbands to view their bodies. It has never even occurred to me that such a woman might be well built and sexy. They are invisible as women, as they glide by going about their business.

But there they were, the women of Playboy, naked as the day they were born, revealing everything about themselves, and I couldn't get enough. There was also the Playboy Man, and his lifestyle was something I was supposed to want to emulate. So, I started smoking Kool cigarettes, because it was Cool to smoke Kools. That lasted until Benson and Hedges introduced the Gold brand of cigarettes, lighters and the gold case: I bought it all. I was a Playboy Man.

Until I woke up, looked around and wondered what the hell I was doing.

I threw away the cigarettes, lighter and case, and I started to question whether having so many beautiful women in my face was actually better than when they were a mystery. I've since  decided that I was on a journey of dimishing returns where less was more. It got to a point when I explained that I bought the magazine for the articles and the stories. All that beauty finally led to me becoming jaded. Yes, I saw them as I leafed through in search of reading matter but I no longer dwelt on them. And that, apparently is what has happened to the majority of  would-be male readers.

 Playboy has finally got the message that they could only present cheesecake in so many ways before we all shriveled up and became bored. We have come full circle, and it all happened within Hugh Hefner's lifetime.

Now ladies, when we say we buy the magazine for the articles and the stories you are just going to have to believe us.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

To Die on your birthday: what does it mean?

Today is November 1st, All Saint's Day in Spain. It's the day when families visit their loved one's who have gone on before them. When I first came to Spain I was unaware of the tradition. I found myself passing a major cemetary on this day, which was overrun with people. I exclaimed, "Wow! Who died?" Well, everybody.

With this date approaching, the thought ocurred to me that surely there must be a record of people who actually died on their birthdays. I wondered whether such an occurrance would be rare or not, so I went on Google to look for answers.

Google has recorded well-known people who inadvertently combined their birthday with their death day. At the top of the list we find William Shakespeare. He was born on April 23, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616. The problem is that there is some doubt about his birthday, but generally it is accepted. Ingrid Bergman, the actress, also has that distinction, having been born in Sweden on August 29, 1915, and died the same month and day, in 1982.

We all have a one in 365 chance of ending our lives on our birthday. Apparently, statistically, once we cross over the age 65 threshold the likelihood of dying on our birthday grows increasingly with each passing year. There are heart attacks and strokes possibly waiting for us, or just simple things like falling down. And then, there are suicides, as many people despair with advancing age and choose to end their lives on their birthdays.

Perhaps the most outstanding person to hold this distinction was Astrid Zachrison of Sweden who lived to a splendid age of 113 years exactly. She was born on May 15th, 1895 and passed away in 2008 while celebrating yet another milestone. There is something very poetic about that, but also a word of warning: don't overdue the celebrating.

I found a long list of people on Google, and these were just the well-known ones, so I suppose in actual fact it happens quite a lot. There are also several examples of people who died on their birthdays, but were revived. One woman has died several times over her lifetime, but was always revived, including one time she sprang back to life just minutes before being opened up for an autopsy. She is still alive today.

What does it mean?  In the Jewish faith The Talmud teaches that Moses died on his 120th birthday, so this has meaning to Jews, but under the Catholic faith no particular significance is given.

Call me an old romantic, however in my opinion it closes the circle perfectly, leaving nothing left over or undone. It seems to suggest that such was a perfect life that was lived and ended with precision. No wonder there were two people from Sweden in my examples. Also, no wonder Sweden is the country that produces my beloved, precision-made Volvo!

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael