Sunday, May 28, 2017

new friends

Some years ago a science fiction novel I read described two different groups of humans as part of the overall story. The first group, ur-humans, were descendants of people who had been brought from Earth long ago who had been mentored by a civilization of inter-galactic beings. The second group, r-humans were more like us. They had struggled their way to a technologic society that had eventually bootstrapped its way into space. I no longer remember the name of the book, and that aspect was just a small part of a larger overall tale, but I rather liked the idea that there were humans who felt they were an organic part of a greater civilization.

Science fiction done well allows us to see our behaviour in perspective. I found a blog whose author wrote 365 very short science fiction stories over the course of 365 days. Here's one of them:

Holy Place

The priest’s words echoed through St. Peter’s soaring arches, resounding off acres of inlaid marble and porphyry. The murmur of tourists gawking and taking pictures stopped. Heads turned.

The priest stood before Michelangelo’s Pièta, hair the colour of clouds, cassock dark as a storm. A trio of Shivers had just entered the basilica and stood, clicking, their many limbs shifting nervously.

This was in the early days, when seeing an alien walking around was still rare. One of them inclined its glossy head. “We have come to admire the treasures of this place,” it said.

The priest’s eyes flashed with a dark light. “The house of God is not open to demons,” he said. “This place is for the baptized.”

The aliens clicked animatedly to each other. At length they turned to the priest together and bowed, forelegs splaying across the marble floor. “Then baptize us, father,” said the leader.

The priest blinked. “You … You wish to be baptized?” he said.

The lead Shiver nodded.

The priest’s gaze wandered over the aliens: many-legged, restlessly moving under their glossy black carapaces. He remembered the vast ships they had shown on TV, cloud-streaked, shadowing cities.

He breathed out, slowly.

“So you wish to be baptized,” he said. “His Holiness will want to hear of this … Follow me, children.”

The Shivers scurried after him. “Praise be to Allah!” they shouted.

The priest spun on them. “What!?” he said.

“Sorry,” said the lead Shiver. “Is there a difference?”

Article of the week: Manchester, or Innocence Long Lost 
by Raul Ilargi Meijer

Sunday, May 21, 2017

diving Crow blues *

Now if the river was brandy
And I was out diving with Crow
Now if the river was Remy
And I was out diving with Crow
I would dive in that bottle
And I'd never let go.

If the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.

The river flows to the ocean
As you can surely see
Those oil guys were brazen
With their lies and treachery
Why these rich folk are so greedy
Is a mystery to me

Now they tell us Fukushima
Is just as calm as the sea
There is nothing left to see there
Things are good as they can be
But we know that they are lying
Though there's no news on tv

It's just money that matters
And they know they won't get caught
Cause they paid the politicians
Who said they never could be bought
There's no truth in what they tell you
Is what my dear mother taught

If the river was brandy
We wouldn't need a cup
If the river was Remy
We'd have a fine roundup
We can swim to the bottom
And we'll drink our way up.

So if the world treats you badly
You could go diving with us
If you got only hard times
We'll take you diving with us
Just grab your suit and flippers
There is nothing to discuss.

^ With apologies to Sleepy John Estes
* reprise from 2011 because it's all still true

Sunday, May 14, 2017

we need a miracle

Okay, I give up. It's a Sunday in the middle of May and we're still experiencing decent spring weather only once in every other week. The news I read keeps getting worse and Crow has locked himself in his library where he's working on a book he's titled 'Apathetic Agnostic: We Don't Know and We Don't Care'. So in the absence of anything else to do I've found a few church signs and bulletins that made me laugh. Sometimes that's all we can do.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The beautiful flowers on the altar this morning are to celebrate the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

At the Ladies Liturgy Society this Thursday, Mrs. Smith will sing “Put Me In My Little Bed” accompanied by the pastor.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our bell choir practice.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They maybe seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

The Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 P.M. Please use the back door.

On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expense of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will please come forward to get a piece of paper.

There is a sign-up sheet for anyone wishing to be baptized on the table in the foyer.

Janet Smith has volunteered to strip and refinish the communion table in the sanctuary.

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

The preacher will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth With Joy".

The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I upped My Pledge----Up Yours."

Visiting Missionary: Bertha Belch.
Announcement: "Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa".

Thursday at 5:00PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his study.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a group practice in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Twenty-two members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs. Crutchfield and Mrs. Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

The Sunday Night Men's Glee Club will meet on Saturday at the park, unless it rains. In that case they will meet at their regular Tuesday evening time.

The class on prophecy has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the Church. Children will be Baptized at both ends.

The 'Over 60s Choir' will be disbanded for the summer with the thanks of the entire church.

Over the massive front doors of a church, these words were inscribed: "The Gates of Heaven". Below that was a small cardboard sign which read: "Please use other entrance."

and my favorite recent video is this one.. not linked because I found out youtube doesn't pay creators for movies shown on other sites. This man (and his friends) could probably use a little money.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

magic island

The phrase, "I'm going to Yemen," doesn't come up very often in my experience - less so nowadays. It's a place I first read about a few years ago that looked like one of those amazing landscapes we'd only encounter in a science fiction novel - Ray Bradbury's 'Mars' perhaps. Hidden away in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Socotra is a small collection of four islands that are part of Yemen in the Middle East. The largest among them is known as Socotra. While officially a part of Yemen, the island is 340 km (210 miles) away from Yemen while it is a mere 240 km (150 miles) away from Somalia. On all sides, the island is surrounded by a vast expanse of water.

Some 250 million years or more ago, when all the planet’s major landmasses were joined and most major life-forms roamed freely from one region to another, Socotra already stood as an island apart. Ever since Socotra has been a breeding ground of birds, plants and animals. The isolation from other land masses meant whatever evolutionary process the flora and fauna underwent never spread to the mainland.

While small in size, measuring 132 km (82 miles) long and 49.7 km (31 miles) wide this little, isolated island is a treasure trove of unusual things. Completely isolated, separated from land for millions of years, the flora and fauna have remained largely untouched by man and are found nowhere else in the world. The island's harsh environment includes wide sandy beaches, limestone caves and towering mountains, but is for the most part very hot and dry leading to the distinctive appearance of its plants.

If you want to read more and see more pictures you can find them here, but please don't mention the place to the Saudis or Elon Musk. We'll just let them think these really are pictures of Mars and they really should get out there right away.

* Lindsay found this beautiful video of the Socotran landscape.