Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Mates Mickey and Bovy were in a state of mordancy. They noticed that while much progress was achieved in abolishing human slavery, the slaving that they were subject to at the hands of humans was blithely ignored. The ironies of human beings, with whom they had the (mis)fortune of dwelling, was a topic that featured prominently in their post-dinner musings.

Irredeemably melancholic, Mickey moused over his ever-growing list of woes. The netherworldly treatment meted out by scientists, often proudly but ironically referring to themselves as Doctors, irked him greatly. Mickey couldn’t fathom how Tommy, the dog, was Man’s best friend, when he did more to assist humans in finding solutions to pesky diseases.

Mickey was the preferred beta-tester of choice for humans interested in finding the effects of deplorable stimuli (virus, cigarettes) on humans. The rise of medical research was a primary reason behind his pitiable situation. As the chosen spokesperson of his rodent community, Mickey shared that a great bulk of experiments, 97% to be precise, were performed on his genetically defiled brethren. He noted wryly that while animal rights activists condemned experiments performed on the large animals – apes and pigs – countless experiments that led to massive reduction in his community’s numbers received little attention. Perhaps size did matter, after all.

Years of man-induced genetic hankypanky was partly responsible for his melancholic state of mind. Reproduction and associated hereditary bequests was creating a worrisome situation, greatly endangering his family’s long-term survival probability. Humans seemed to have a queer sense of equality. Certain chosen ones in the animal kingdom, dogs and cats figured primarily, enjoyed undivided and unconditional affection; while vital weapons in Man’s war against diseases – rodents/fishes – were witness to the ugly side of Man’s apathy. He winced at this imbalanced state of affairs.

Bovine Bovy chimed in with her tales of sadness. A recent pronouncement, championed by that spokesperson of animal woes, PETA, had led to a ban on oil companies using bullock as a mode of transporting kerosene. PETA activists were elated. Their 5 year struggle had finally borne fruit, leaving Bovy with a bittersweet feeling. Her udders were being routinely manhandled by humans since Antiquity but PETA, oddly, did not seem to consider it a worthy cause to battle for. Bullock were bollocks, pretty much, according to her. They idled around, mostly, occasionally indulging in rumpy pumpy and some recreational weight lifting. Of course, many of them were ill-treated, malnourished and flirting with death but so was her ilk. She was more useful to Man, bestowing livelihoods to many and providing a range of edible produce derived from her fountainudd.

Bovy fleered that size had little to do with this odd sense of righteousness and equality of treatment that humans and PETA exhibited. She was big but evidently it wasn’t enough to excite PETA’s attentions. A few rarities campaigned for their cause but achieving significant headway was proving tough.

Mickey nodded limply. They toyed with the idea of opting for a quadruped change procedure, dogs being their unanimous choice of appearance, as they seemed to be most loved by humans. Allowing for the near impossibility of this course of action, they explored other avenues. Both contemplated engaging the services of Tommy’s highly effective PR agency. Affection, however unjustly misdirected, was a valuable resource. Mongrels were best placed to influence their guardians, the humans, to provide a voice for Mickey and Bovy and their respective ilk.

Their demands were rather modest. They had nothing personal against dogs or other large animals. All Mickey desired was a level sacrificial playing ground for one and all. Equal numbers of every animal known to Man ought to be used for prospective experiments, dogs and cats included. Tommy did not Hifi-ger at this and refused to take up their assignment. Bovy wanted a protocol to be tabled into law, outlining civil udder-handling practices. Their modest proposals were put to vote in the Assembly of Quadrupeds but expectedly, soon ran into irresolvable roadblocks and was eventually beaten down.

The mongrel lobby proved too strong.

PETA and other animal rights activists could not attend the congregation due to pressing celebratory commitments.

Bovy, punnily, cowed in a rare display of aggression.

Mickey was back in a hole.

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There are pockets in this great wide world playing host to a symbiotic relationship between job security, family well-being and social standing. This relationship and lengthy conversations with aggrieved inhabitants in these pockets has encouraged me to recommend the next addition to my growing list of Radical Proposals to cure the world’s ills.

In the aftermath of 2008, it so came to be that employment and job security became commonplace in dinner table discussions. The economic tsunami that exterminated Capitalism also took with it its Cousins; Competency, Aptitude and Passion. Remembering the evils of Capitalism encouraged people to seek refuge in the welcoming arms of Socialism. All of a sudden, the hitherto-unknown-recently-made-redundant neighbour was remembered by many, who felt mighty sorry for the chap’s predicament. ‘Poor fellow! Poorer family!’, was an oft-repeated line of thought that supplemented feelings of concern; which were also sometimes, self-directed. Great caution was exercised in positing no connection between the extinct Cousins and unemployment.

With time, more jobs were lost, some permanently. The whining, one observed, seemed to bear a direct relationship to the size of the family of the affected. Singles, unencumbered by the responsibility of feeding multiple mouths, were the lowest of the low in the sympathy hierarchy. Nobody batted an eyelid on their situation. Those gifted with families large enough to field football teams, ranked highly.

Their situation was bad, sad, unfair, undeserved, unjustified, unfathomable, unrighteous, dishonourable, inhuman, blasphemous, pitiable, pathetic… Period.

Quick to pick on this development, employers looking to scythe employee count attacked the singles, the unmarried and all other forms of solitary expendables. A few of the football team group that were let go, were sent off with generous helpings of genuinely unfelt sympathy, good wishes for a bad future and a severance package that could barely feed half the football team.

Intent on reversing this decline, the singles urgently needed a fool-proof plan. They had witnessed first-hand, the vast benefits that accrued to the folks of the football team, owing solely to their strength in numbers. In an era where the Cousins were never remembered, much less in demand, numbers were the ultimate end game. Having got the rough end of the stick, the singles wasted no time in conjuring up an expeditious remedy to their malady.

They decided to procreate their way to job security.

The aboriginal football team members, meanwhile, sensed unwanted competition; for jobs and for sympathy. Concerned about their busted futures and in an effort to safeguard non-existent interests, they coerced governments to write into Law, a rule that insisted on a Minimum Family Size as a qualifying criteria for employment. Mindless propaganda combined with mindful lobbying led to frequent upward revisions to this Minimum number, which soon flirted dangerously with triple digits.

Few paused to wonder that when the cake itself was diminishing in size, adding more claimants to the pie was tantamount to idiocy. Procreation was seen as a precursor to job-creation, a necessary criterion to ensure job security and survival. Nobody knew how incremental jobs would be created out of thin air to accommodate the rapidly increasing numbers.

Some suggested creating professions that focused on various aspects and sub-aspects, and sub-aspects of these sub-aspects, of birth control.

They were promptly fired.

In a nondescript pub in an unknown city, a Cigar and Whisky were engaged in deep conversation.

Cigar – a Churchill – was proud of his lineage but noticed with sadness that his numbers were on the wane. He worried about extinction in the near future, particularly as he seemed to be losing Smokers to Good Habits. Meanwhile, Whisky – a Laphroaig – took considerable pride in his long history and the difficulties that he had to put up with in coming into existence. Ruminating over the reasons that led to their present plight and reminiscing about the ugly turn of events proved a trifle too stifling for the Cigar and Whiskey, who found solace in each others’ company.

The recession had been severe on both. Not that they really believed this. Deep down, the root causes of their exasperation could be traced to Governments, Health Groups and in the unimaginable stupidity of the oafs who produced and sold them for a living. The matter needed some explanation.

An oratorical speaker, Churchill unleashed a tirade, lamenting the rapidly declining numbers of his family globally. Cigar population had declined 20% over the past 5 years, Churchill noted and repeated the number, hoping to aid digestion. It didn’t help matters. The good old method favoured by cigar aficionados – a 1-hour Cigar – seemed to be joining the annals of history. Churchill bellowed smoke at this thought. His consternation escalated on watching the rapidly multiplying numbers of low-cost, little cigars (Cafe Crème was one of his chief nemesis). He jeered at Man’s growing impatience with nearly everything around him. Even Cigars weren’t spared.

Laphroaig vented his spleen on pubs and businessmen. He couldn’t, for a moment, understand the sanity of liquor barons earnestly directing their consumers to consume their produce in rationed quantities. What sort of businessman produced in large amounts only to urge consumers against consuming his produce? It was an assault on Laphroaig’s highly refined sensibilities. Churchill added his chorus to this observation. Both noted that it was actually the Governments that inflicted this needless bit of pontification, after extracting their pound of flesh by way of taxes. Progressive bans, various forms of curtailment and clampdown were primarily responsible for their road to extinction.

There was unanimous agreement that humans needed to be self-regulating entities, knowing when to draw the line. When death was the only reality, the means to reaching this destination seemed relatively unimportant. Might as well get there happily, they felt.

Both were fans of numbers. WHO statistics indicated that tobacco caused 5 million deaths while alcohol consumption shaved off a further 2.5 million, every year. They did the numbers and the combined deaths came to about 0.1% of Earth’s population. Being liberal-minded fellows, they allowed an equal number of deaths through secondary causes. The percentage needle ticked to 0.2%. World population was growing at 1% every year. 0.2% deletion was hardly something that seemed worthy of hoopla. In fact, they were carrying out a great service by acting as a counter-weight to otherwise unchecked population growth.

Diabetes gorged nearly 5 million while Heart disease and Stroke consumed over 13 million every year. Electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and global warming seemed promising candidates to take top spots in the future but various self-interest groups were busy jousting to concoct conclusions that most suited their pockets. Churchill coughed and Laphroaig simmered at this apparent unjustness.

Both couldn’t help but think that they were welcome occasional additions to the mundanities of daily life. They relieved stress, brought a smile to the consumer’s face and warmed their hearts and lungs, quite literally. Nobody followed the Statutory Warnings anyway. It seemed to them that this was a grand entertainment orchestrated by health groups and governments, who couldn’t find humour in other areas.

All they wanted was to Rest in Peace.

Governments were lending a helping hand.

 Source: http://www.whiskyshop.com

 

Much virtual ink, trees, board room/coffee shop/pub debates have been spent in trying to unearth solutions to the economic volcano that erupted 4 years ago. The crisis has had a happy effect on the wallets of experts, who realised that much money could be made by passing opinions that were seldom useful, that no one cared for or acted upon.

This rather sorry state of affairs has urged me to conjure up my own proposal(s) to resolve the pesky problems facing the world. I must declare that I am no expert; which is why, perhaps, it would be worthwhile for the governments of the world to ponder over my well-intentioned gobbledygook.

Suggesting to an over-indebted human – who has seen his income halve or disappear altogether – to assume more debt as a medicine for his ills, not only borders on the amusing but is also grossly detrimental to his well-being.

Here are some humble proposals for curing the world’s ills.

One of the chief causes of our problems is oversupply, in nearly everything that is of every-day utility to man. With an existing inventory of 260 kg of grain for every human, it makes little sense to invest more money/subsidise/incentivise advancements in agriculture that would augment supply. Curtailing investment on this front will not only benefit existing farmers through increasing agri-commodity prices (flat supply, consistently rising demand), it will also alleviate the burden on the tax-paying class indirectly footing the ‘agriculture modernisation’ bill.

The other big issue is Global Warming, a hopelessly over-chorused hocus pocus on an evolutionarily natural phenomena. The history of the universe is one of alternating cycles of warming and cooling. Before the Ice Age, progressive cooling brought everything to a standstill. For a few thousands years of tranquillity. As we emerged from the Ice Age and went about procreating earnestly, the warmth that was felt wasn’t just attributable to physical proximity to other humans; it was due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

As we hurtle forwards in time, that wonderful fellow called Entropy will ensure that things only get increasingly chaotic from here. The Earth will, at some point, burn itself into extinction. As this point is several thousand years away, it is unwise to continually pump money now to find a solution to a natural cycle. The $100 billion spent so far has proved more successful in Warming scientists’ and experts’ chairs Globally, than in finding solutions. Suspending funding for Climate Change Programs would prospectively relieve the planet of several thousands of billions in commitments, funding which would otherwise emerge from the tax-payer’s pocket.

Next, to the vast area of medical funding. When death is the norm, life the exception, it is imprudent to spend vast resources in inventing permanent cures for cancer, AIDS and all other natural catalysts of extinction. Evolution invented them for a good reason. By prolonging lifetimes, the burden of feeding the old falls on the young…who have few jobs or a career or a future to look forward to. Much of the accumulated ills that are upon us today can be traced to advances in medicine, which has increased life expectancy to a point, where the incremental addition of years isn’t worth the lifestyle benefits accruing to humans sparring with expiry dates.

We spent unnecessary billions building nuclear weapons, only to wind up unnecessarily spending billions trying to keep them in check. Wasted billions notwithstanding, we unnecessarily spend billions trying to find solutions to incurable diseases, which have the potential to naturally correct the excesses of the world.

As an extension of the above, years of pontificating about the benefits of birth control (accompanied by liberal spending) has achieved little in arresting population growth. A rethink is called for.

Forced living beyond a certain upper age limit in the constant company of (medicinal) drugs with little mental peace seems like an unwelcome prospect. Not of much utility, at best and exacerbating problems, at worst. In a modified version of Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal, thoughtful rationing of the old is a solution worth considering. By reverting to the norm of bygone centuries, progressively reducing life expectancy would entail much lower investment and would engender vast long-term benefits.

The above proposals carry additional benefits. Apart from offering the prospect of slashing unnecessary expenditures, the proposals offer global governments an opportunity of lending a touch of realism to the ongoing Utopian programs of austerity.

30 November 1667

———-

Dear Mr. Jonathan Swift,

If, either through force of habit or mere happenstance, your eyes ever rest upon this virtual ink devoted to you, I shall consider myself a fortunate soul.

As much as I ardently seek to provide an enchanting picture of our times, I realize that you might prefer ironies of reality to fantasied ironies. But before I lead you to raise your veil of scepticism and smile in acknowledgement, I beseech you to temper your expectations, for numbers of your satire aficionados are few.

Much has changed, and much hasn’t, since your passing.

It is not commonplace to associate timelessness with posthumous immortality, the true meaning of the word notwithstanding. Almost everything in our present times, Sir, unlike yours, comes with an expiry date. Most of us mortals even manage to wear a smile at the paradox of recognition. In our present times, the Dead are remembered, while the Alive are forgotten. Some of the Alive are bestowed recognition but only after joining the ranks of the Dead. There are no known instances of the opposite.

Your prescience in The Difficulty Of Knowing One’s Self is commendable. More than three centuries later, we continue to be faithful to your observations. We specialise in running headlong into sin and folly, against our reason; even deifying the process. In this respect, we can honourably lay claim to upholding the traditions propounded by your generation.

I recount with great fondness the excited hands that flipped through the pages of Gulliver’s Travels, in my childhood. With the progressive reduction of my ignorance about the world and its history (a process by no means, complete), my perception towards Gulliver’s Travels underwent a metamorphosis. The many facets to one story came as a remarkable discovery to me. Much of our world today is in the early stages of Gulliver’s journey, as he transformed from an enthusiastic fellow to a misanthrope. A few knock on the doors of the final stage but societal pressures impel them to assume the countenance of the early-stage Gulliver.

I discovered the beauty of sustained irony in The Battle of the Books, your satirical account of the battle between the writers of the Ancient and the Modern world. As I laboured to unearth contemporary writing, I found myself on a journey backwards in time. Somewhere in the early 20th century, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw and Vu Trong Phung (who nobody knows ever lived) reminded me that my journey to Aristotelian times to find stimulating pieces was unnecessary; even as PG Wodehouse gently encouraged me to return to the stillness of my times. The Battle of the Books – II, if written, would be a triviality, for we Moderns are an ill-armoured lot, acutely susceptible to literary attack. Beware, Sir, for should you decide to launch an assault, you might encounter some serious resistance in the form of Social Networking.

As regards your Modest Proposal, of selling toddlers of the poor to the rich as food, I report that my contemporaries have, so far, stayed away from cannibalism. Much of this is attributable to advances in food science, which has ensured that food is abundantly available to feed the entire planet. At 257 kg of grain per earthling, it should be a while before cannibalism overpowers civility. But times are bad and the economic downturn which is upon us for the past 4 years, overlapped on increasing inequality, might stoke anthropophagic feelings in hungry humans. You may be happy to learn, though, that politics and, more significantly, politicians have not changed an iota since your times.

Our life expectancies have received a major boost due to progress in medicine. As the world grows older, youngsters feel a sense of resentment at having to support the growing dependent population, apart from compulsions of subsistence. Given the horrid times, it seems that a modified version of your Modest Proposal, aimed at monitored rationing of the very aged, instead of the very young, may find some cheerleaders.

This, Sir, is a short picture of the state of our times.

344 years since the world was fortunate to have played host to you, you continue to live and breathe satire, in our minds.

Thank you for having lived amongst us, I remain, your humble admirer,

Happy birthday!

Ha Lin

—–
PS:
….Of beasts, it is confessed, the ape
Comes nearest us in human shape;
Like man, he imitates each fashion,
And malice is his ruling passion:
But, both in malice and grimaces,
A courtier any ape surpasses.
Behold him humbly cringing wait
Upon the minister of state;
View him, soon after, to inferiors
Aping the conduct of superiors:
He promises, with equal air,
And to perform takes equal care.
He, in his turn, finds imitators,
At court the porters, lacqueys, waiters
Their masters’ manners still contract,
And footmen, lords, and dukes can act.
Thus, at the court, both great and small
Behave alike, for all ape all.
— Jonathan Swift, Excerpt from The Logicians Refuted

Jungle Nights

Posted: October 20, 2011 in General
Tags: , , , ,

A misty morning chill gently awakens the senses. As time marches on, the fog perishes to the arrows of the sun, which assumes ferocity as the day progresses. Dark clouds take over as evening approaches; this time it is the sun’s turn to accept defeat, which calls it a day ahead of schedule. The scent of wet earth wafts through the air, as the scorched ground gratefully welcomes the rain. The crimson twilight transitions into the blackness of the night, with the moon nowhere in sight.

The combined assault of the rain and blustery winds perturbs the otherwise peace-loving trees. Where they towered motionless in the stillness of the morning air, they now morph into enraged giants sparring with the forces of nature. In the darkness, the trees seem to draw closer and appear larger. As the night advances and fatigue sets in, the torrential downpour recedes into a steady drizzle and the trees slip into a drenched slumber.

The groovy flicker of a candle penetrates the darkness, imparting a melancholic eeriness to things. Lifeless objects come to life through their shadows, which dance upon the walls in merriment. In the spartan cottage from where I write, electricity and time are expendable luxuries.

For I am in jungle territory.

A family of frogs come to life. Their sonorously rhythmic croaking breaks the tranquil night. Beginning sporadically, other members of the croaking brotherhood soon join in, drowning the chirping of the night cricket. A few of these little beauties, youngsters from their appearance, saunter next to me, contemplating a leap. I watch riveted for the eventuality. The prospect of a body less than an inch tall taking on a hurdle several times its height is captivating.

The leap is successful and the frogs are relieved.

The ride has transported them from the alien confines of my dwelling to the familiar vastness of the jungle.

I hear sounds amid the din of rainfall. A bat announces its arrival. My eyes catch a glimpse of the striking silhouette of its outstretched wings. The sighting is brief, for the bat dissolves into the darkness as quickly as it arrives, leaving no trace of its existence.

The candle drowns in its own waxy muddle. Time ticks by.

Screeches originate from a branch less than ten feet from me. My torch follows the sound and discovers the piercing eyes of an owl, staring at me inquiringly. The light stays focused. So do the eyes. I move the torch momentarily to prevent discomfiting the night watchman. When the torch swings back to its earlier position, it discovers emptiness.

The owl has disappeared.

A voice in my head reflexively recites an old verse.

We see what you see not,

Your visions murky, eyes rot.

When you turn, we shall be gone,

Whispering our hidden song.

Then you see what may not be,

Shadows move where light should be.

In the darkness, all but blind,

A restive silence befriends the mind.