A friend of mine in Singapore has been involved in an initiative to reach out to senior citizens and improve their quality of life by educating them to the joys of computing and the internet. This helps to keep them alert and engaged and some even go on to help charities and social programs using their newly learned skills. A worthy effort.
One obstacle amongst the seniors is an inherent fear of technology and bewilderment brought on by unfamiliarity with the rapidly changing technology and technological jargon.
I confess that I too feel that I am falling behind the technological curve and in the danger of being left behind. So as a public service, the Lone Grey Squirrel, wishes to share this informative video designed to be able to communicate at the level of senior citizens.
Below is an excerpt from the highly esteemed BBC talking-type wireless show (or so they claimed for themselves), The Goon Show. Written by the rascally Spike Milligan, the episode entitled “The Affair of the Lone Banana” has our intrepid but dumb hero, Seagoon, going to South America in search of a missing British citizen. But when he arrives, he finds himself in the midst of much social unrest…………
Seagoon: Now, now what’s all this about? Moriarty: It is the revolution señor – everywhere there is an armed rising. Seagoon: Are you in it? Moriarty: Right in it – you see, you see señor, the united anti-socialist neo-democratic pro-fascist communist party is fighting to overthrow the unilateral democratic united partisan bellicose pacifist cobelligerant tory labour liberal party! Seagoon: Whose side are you on? Moriarty: There are no sides – we are all in this together.
I used to think this was so funny even though I knew that sometimes reality actually sails very close to this. Unfortunately, it has now even come closer to home, to Malaysia.
On the 19th of November, thousands of Malaysians put on yellow shirts and attended the Bersih 5 rally on the streets of the capitol, Kuala Lumpur.
But they were not alone. Just like the Affair of the Lone Banana, there were other parties present too and they were all in it. I hope to try to give some clarity to the situation.
Yellow Shirts – these are the peaceful, pro-democracy, pro-transparency, pro-electoral reform, anti-corruption, pro-justice, pro-change, anti- current Prime Minister Najib, supported by past Prime Minister Mahathir, non-sectarian, civil society groups and opposition parties.
Red Shirts- these are the thuggish, bullying, sectarian, anti-yellow shirts, anti-free press, pro-government, pro-status quo, pro-establishment, pro-Malay, pro-Prime Minister Najib, ruling party.
Black Shirts – anti-rallies, anti yellow shirts, defenders of the law against protests, newly set up party with ties to establishment.
Orange Shirts – anti-yellow shirts, pro-Prime Minister Najib, pro-Indian, pro-government party launched by the Prime Minister.
Purple Shirts – pro-yellow shirts, pro-protection of yellow shirts from red shirts.
In the end, the yellow shirts far outnumbered the rest. There were probably more than 50,000 yellow shirts and about 2,500 red shirts. The red shirts dispersed before long.
The police arrested many yellow shirt leaders and a few red shirt leaders briefly. However, Maria Chin Abdullah, the leader of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections was jailed and placed in solitary confinement under an Act designed for action against terrorists. Malaysians of all kinds of color shirts held nightly vigils for her release and she was finally freed after 10 days although the police say they are continuing their investigation of her.
If all this was rather confusing, let me just a summarise it for you. In a nutshell, we are in a lot of trouble in Malaysia and no matter what color shirt, we are all in it. If we are not careful, we will all sink in it. What is needed is for us to drape ourselves in the multi colors of our national flag, put down our own selfish interests and fight for a country with justice, equality and opportunity for all Malaysians.
Well, there’s been a lot of bad news of late. I think we are all overdue to have some FUN for a change and right on cue, famous Bollywood actress and celebrity, Shilpa Shetty, has come to our rescue. God bless her.
During an interview, she commented on the decision by Indian authorities to include Harry Potter books as part of the school syllabus. She thought it was a great idea and threw in a suggestion or two of other books that would be a boon to young minds. (see picture below).
Inspired by her views on Little Women and Animal Farm, the internet wags have been a bit merciless in developing the theme of books that should be included in the reading programs of our children. Here are some great suggestions;
Fifty Shades of Grey – an amazing colouring book. Children will love it.
The Life of Pi – should be read by all children as it will enhance their mathematical skills.
Mein Kampf – is a nice guide on camping and other outdoor activities.
The Hobbit – is good. All children should be encouraged to develop good hobbits.
Anyway, this squirrel pondered over the books in his library to see what books I might recommend too. I came up with the following;
Gone with the Wind – learning about the fury of Nature and the power of tornados.
Stephen King’s IT – Never too young to start learning about computers.
The Maze Runner – sharpen your child’s mind with this giant book of crosswords, puzzles and mazes.
The Name of the Rose – introduce your child to the wonders of gardening and horticulture with this guide book to the hundreds of rose species.
V for Vendetta – the classic children’s alphabet book but with an updated and relevant twist. (A is for Apple Inc., B is for Brexit…….. Z is for Zika)
Do you know what’s scary? Answer:- the way I procrastinate. If you look back over the years, readers will find that I will be making New Year Resolutions and wishing every one a Happy New Year sometime towards the end of January. Likewise, I tend to leave my Christmas decorations up and try to disguise them to make it look like I put them up specially for Chinese New Year a few months later. So just yesterday, I finally got to watch the movie that I had set aside for Halloween.
It’s a Korean movie titled, “Train to Busan”. As if train journeys are often not horrific enough, they throw in large numbers of evil, undead zombies. It is a big hit in Korea and you know what? In my humble squirrel opinion, it deserves every good review it has received. As with any zombie movie, it is not so much a spine chilling horror experience but more of an adrenaline racing, heart pounding action movie. But the human element is well crafted into the story and the acting surprisingly good; especially the young girl in the story. I recommend it.
You know what else is scary? The real world! Starting with Korea where the Korean President is alleged to have been unduly influenced by the daughter of a cult leader (BBC story); to Indonesia where thousands took part in violent and fatal protests in the capital Jakarta because they do not want a popular (and generally held to be an effective) non-Muslim governor overseeing a majority Muslim city; and finally the insane circus of the current U.S. Presidential elections. Hilary or Trump? The squirrel shakes his head at both but trembles in fear at the thought of President Trump.
And so, we squirrels have decided to intervene for the sake of the world.
I was reading a post on a friend’s blog on “political correctness” and thought that I wanted to post on that topic too. But I am also late with my annual Halloween post! Oh, what to do…..what to do……..ah, do both!
So Happy Halloween boys and girls! Hope it was a good one!
Political correctness seeks to stop forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. And I totally agree that in a civilised society, all of us should be against the marginalisation, abuse and denigration of the disadvantaged or the disenfranchised or discrimination based on religion, gender or race.
In fact, that used to be just good old common sense civility and good manners. Something that does seem to have become a rare commodity these days – we just need to look at the current gutter rhetoric being used in the current U.S. presidential race. The name calling, the lack of respect and bigotry on display is truly soul sapping. The Trump is a bully (amongst other things!)
However, I do believe that in this topsy-turvy world, some craziness is also being enforced on people, in the name of political correctness, by a small minority who seem to feel their voice deserves to be greater and their easily offended feelings or views more important than others. They are bullies too.
What is needed is a change of heart, a need to have mutual respect and the development of empathy for others. These are things that are achieved by developing relationships, awareness, putting ourselves in others shoes and by having leaders who demonstrate it by example. Trying to achieve it by a list of don’t s does not achieve this change of heart.
Here are some examples where I think we have thrown common sense out the window.
Cultural Appropriation:- Hilary Duff and boyfriend recently had to apologise for dressing up as a Pilgrim and a Native American for Halloween. They were accused of disrespect and cultural appropriation. What happened to “imitation is the highest form of flattery”? What is important is whether they intended by their action to marginalise, abuse or denigrate anyone – I think they did not.
In Australia, a boy wanted to dress up as his football hero. The boy put on the sports gear with the appropriate name and number. But the boy is white and his football hero is an Aborigine. To complete his costume for the school event, he put on black face paint. He and his mother was roundly criticised for disrespect. Is the message that young persons of Caucasian descent are not allowed to emulate heroes of other ethnic backgrounds? (notice how I was careful with my wording of the last sentence). Which is more racist?
When I was at University, we used to celebrate our different cultures by having international nights and festivals where we get to try each others food, learn each others cultures, and dress up in each others national and ethnic costumes. Now it seems that in some places that is viewed as cultural appropriation and insensitive. This attitude will only increase problems and not improve race relations.
Just this month in Malaysia, certain authorities tried to force food outlets to stop using the word “dog” as it is offensive to a portion of society. Specifically words like “hot dog”, “Coney Dog”, “corn dog” and “pretzel dog” were to be removed. It was a move that would have cost businesses tons of money as they would have to change their menus, printed materials and ad campaigns. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in the end.
Many years ago in UK, a local council voted to ban the use of the word “pet” to describe our cats and dogs. These valuable members of our society were to be referred to as “animal companions”. This still did not please everyone as some objected to the word “animal” as derogatory. There were also attempts to ban the use of words like “blacklisted”, “blackballed”, “black magic” and “black death” as it offended “black people”.Yet these same people thought it was ridiculous when someone pointed out (sarcastically) that we should also ban words like “whitewash” and “yellow bellied”.
Another sharp wit said that he would follow the council’s decision on cats and dogs even though he thought that the council was being “animal companion-ery” (translation: petty)
Some words have been used cruelly like “retard” or “basket case” and they should be avoided because they do cause hurt. But again, some changes are of dubious value. Like saying “sanitation engineer” instead of “garbage collector”. The problem is not which title we use for the job but that we somehow view a garbage collector as someone beneath us. I think I have no problem being called a garbage collector if I am treated with respect as a human being doing a valued and necessary task. In this case, the problem lies in our heart not in our words.
Let me just end on a personal note. Recently my doctor was very politically correct and did not want to use the word “obese” or “overweight”. So he told me that I was weight challenged for my height. I immediately replied that I prefer to think of it as vertically challenged for my weight.
“How is my great Squirrel Kingdom novel going?”, I hear you ask. Well, not very well at all. I have a serious case of writer’s block. In fact, I can’t even get my first line down. I mean, I want it to be perfect but it just hasn’t happened yet.
So I decided to seek inspiration by reading some of the award winning first lines of other authors. I thought I would share the writings of some of the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest from 2015 and 2016.
Knowing well the hand signals of his platoon leader, Private James Dawson silently dropped to the dirt, concealed and motionless for what seemed an eternity, a move that he had learned, coincidentally, from his parents whenever the Watchtower ladies would ring the doorbell. — Peter S. Bjorkman
The life of a mountain man like Jedediah Buckman is a simple one, a campfire to warm the person as well as the soul, a full moon to illuminate the forest as well as the mind, and game to nourish the body as well as the spirit, though one wonders how he could stomach beaver without mint jelly and a bold, young pinot noir. — John Hardi
When your home smells like a three-week-old buffalo carcass, your Mom is constantly being mistaken for a guy, and your sisters keep using your ears as their personal chew toys, life is no laughing matter—at least that’s how it seemed to Hubert, the baby Hyena. — Anna McDougald
She was like my ex-girlfriend Ashley, who’d stolen my car, broken my heart, murdered my father, robbed a bank, and set off a pipe bomb in Central Park—tall. — Rachel Nirenberg
Seeing how the victim’s body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer “Dirk” Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase “sandwiched” to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt. — Joel Phillips
“My name is Vangir,” the stout dwarf announced, “son of Valdir, son of Tolfdir, son of Torsson, heir to the dwarf kingdom of Darag-Vur, King of the Under-Folk, ring-giver, dragon-slayer, M.D., DDS. — Austin Stollhaus
If Vicky Walters had known that ordering an extra shot of espresso in her grande non-fat sugar free one pump raspberry syrup two pumps vanilla syrup soy latte that Wednesday would lead to her death and subsequent rebirth as a vampire, she probably would have at least gotten whipped cream.— MarIIgo Coffman
Here is my all time favorite;
Sex with Rachel after she turned fifty was like driving the last-place team on the last day of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, the point no longer the ride but the finish, the difficulty not the speed but keeping all the parts moving in the right direction, not to mention all that irritating barking. — Dan Winters
And here is my attempt after being inspired by such fine writing;
Bob and Sue-ann had heard the loud sonic boom and when the strange bright lights appeared in the sky above them, they ran into the barn and hid, waiting in fearful anticipation with their nerves strung to the breaking point, when suddenly………nothing else happened.
Would you like to try your hand at literary greatness? Please leave your contribution in the comments for us all to enjoy. I may announce a winner and there may be a prize but I cannot confirm or deny this.
Viewing the World Through the Observation of Squirrels