Gather the Daughters

I just finished reading another good book. I really enjoyed this one. Even tho it was more than a little upsetting. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a futuristic novel about an isolated island where the descendants of a small group of men have survived the war- ravaged, burning wastelands the rest of the world has become.

After decades of life on the island, the people have created a fairly stable community, even if they have to live without most of the things we take for granted. Not just electricity, and all the nice things we can have because of it, but even simple things like a decent piece of paper.

They’ve kept an elite group of 10 “wanderers” who, like the original 10 founders of the island, can leave the island at will. No one else is permitted to leave, at all, ever.

The wanderers search the rest of the world for useful items (and possible immigrants) and report back on the state of the world. It’s never good.

Culture on the island is based on the twisted religious ideology of the original 10 founders.

 “When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshipping the ancestors and their vision.” 

It’s pretty much a paradise for the male population. Not so much for the women, although most accept it, one way or another.

This book reminds me of The Handmaids Tale. The same bleak outlook for society, the same lack of freedom and autonomy, the same religious based repression of (especially) women.

In Gather the Daughters, the men get especially ‘lucky’. They get to sleep with their daughters. At least until a certain age. More and more “defective” babies are born (and most are killed soon after), but the solution is to bring in fresh blood in the form of acceptable immigrants instead of reconsidering the edicts of the founders.

Of course the women have some misgivings about the situation, but they keep silent. Previous experience with ‘shaming’ has taught them to protect themselves as well as they can. Young girls have no other experience to go by, so they accept these goings on as ‘normal’, at least until they start growing up when a few start questioning their situation.

When they enter puberty and become ‘women’, they are expected to marry and begin producing healthy offspring (but no more than 2- population must be controlled on an island of limited resources). Woe betide those who object in any way!

It’s a frustrating and sad story. I wanted to wring the necks of the ‘Fathers’ every time one of them opened their mouths. Yes, there were a couple of decent ones, but because they were in such a small minority they kept their ideas to themselves too.

I was so proud of Janey! She was so encouraging, she even starves herself in order to delay menstruation. She fights to the death to avoid being forced into becoming nothing but a breed cow. Leading some of the other girls into self exile on the beach, Janey tries to convince the other girls to fight along with her. They build shelters and hunt for clams for a few short days before a disastrous sickness hits the community and brings most of the girls home in an attempt to help their families.

I wanted to cry for all the girls (and women) on the island. For their lack of choices, for their lack of opportunity, for their lack of freedom, for their lack of information. Their lives have been stifled and cut short in almost every way.

It really angers me that so many people still consider a womans’ life to be worthless unless she is submitting to some man and popping out babies at every opportunity. It sickens me that so many people think women are put on earth only to ‘serve’ men. We are nothing but sex objects, to be ‘seen and not heard’, to be somehow ‘pure’ receptacles for a mans sperm whenever he feels like depositing it somewhere warm!

It depresses me to know that the stories in this book are not just fiction. Things like this are happening to women and girls right now. Not in some remote, make believe island at some point in the future, but HERE and NOW.

Thank god it’s no longer supported by the majority of the population here in America, if it was it would probably be made into a ‘law’ (since so many people believe we are a democracy instead of the Constitutional republic that we are in reality).

BUT IT IS still happening here and all over the world regardless. Of course, there are still places where the community DOES still support these barbarous customs.

All I can do is hope people will somehow come to see there is a better way than to use half of the human race as nothing but breed cows and unpaid labor. I do support various charities to help women and girls improve their lives and take advantage of all the real opportunities to LIVE their lives, to follow their dreams.

One example is Women for Women. They help support and train women who have suffered through war zones, rapes, families killed, beatings, homes and crops destroyed. Women for Women helps with emotional support and gives them training to help these women make a new start on their lives. I wish I could do more.

I can’t change the world (tho I try), but I think I can help at least a few individuals change their lives for the better.

Who Likes Horror?

I just finished reading “The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 22” (ed: Stephen Jones). I’ve had it sitting around the house here for quite a while and finally got around to reading it.

I do like these anthologies of short stories every once in a while. This one was pretty good. I could’ve done without the long introduction (105 pages!) giving the rundown on “horror in 2010). Lots and lots of information on all the new writers, books, movies, magazines, games, etc published in that year. If you’re into that, it’s great additional information. If you’re not, it’s a waste of real estate. (I’m not that into that stuff, but I don’t like skipping over things either). 😉

They did the same at the end, with a “Necrology” of another 84 pages. Long, long pages of everyone involved in any way with horror (and even sci-fi) who died in the year 2010. Movie actors, screenwriters, actors, writers, musicians, etc. They list pretty much everything a personality was involved in.

I was surprised to read some of the things people I remembered had been involved in. Meinhardt Raabe played the ‘munchkin coroner’ who declared the Wicked Witch of the West was dead in the Wizard of Oz worked for the next 30 years for Oscar Mayer as “Little Oscar, the World’s Smallest Chef”. I remember the Beaver’s mom, Barbara Billingsley.  She was great in “Airplane!” (hilarious!). She was also in the movie “Invaders from Mars” in her early days.

Even so, I would have preferred them to just skip all the extras and get right to the stories. Most of them were pretty short, but they still packed a punch. There were 23 in all. Most written by people I’ve never heard of.

I can’t say there was a bad one in the book. Lots of ghosts, zombies, demons and just plain weird goings on. I especially liked “The Lemon in the Pool” by Simon Kurt Unsworth,  “Lesser Demons” by Norman Partridge and “Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History” by Albert E. Cowdrey.

If you like horror and weird stories, you might like this book. It’s a little long, at 575 pages, but if you skip all the extras and just read the actual stories, it’s a pretty quick read. I finished it in only 3-4 days.

I enjoyed the book, now I need to figure out what to read next. I just got a couple of new ones. I’m really looking forward to “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen & Owen King and “The Fireman” by Joe Hill. I love both of those writers. Stephen King has been a favorite for decades and the 3 (“NOS4A2”, “Horns”, “Heart-Shaped Box”) I’ve read so far by Joe Hill have all been excellent. What a talented family!

Has anybody read them yet? Which would you read first? 🙂

Making a Living Without a Job…

“…Winning Ways for Creating Work that You Love”. That’s the full title of the book I picked up at the Fund Your Life Overseas conference put on by International Living.

I went to Phoenix in November for the conference. I had high hopes to find some way to finance my highly desired move overseas. I spent 3 days there, listening to the speakers, talking to other hopefuls, collecting literature, entering contests for prize give-a-ways, soaking up the information. 🙂

One of the speakers I got to meet was Barbara Winter. The one who wrote the book. I had actually read the 1st edition of her book years ago. I figured there would be updates (and there were), so I bought a new copy. I love her ideas of being “joyfully jobless” and would really, really love to join her fellow travelers, but I still haven’t found my way.

google photo

google photo

I like Barbara’s ideas about having multiple sources of income. I’d actually been working on that before I ever read her book. I have (had) my job, rental properties, investing in the stock market, vending machines (not making any money), blog (still trying), writing (sold one article for $250), photography (sold 4 photos for a total of $2).

I’ve been reading “Making a Living…” off and on since I got home, working through some of the exercises, thinking hard about a lot of things. What are my goals? What do I really want to do? What do I really like to do? What do I need in my life? What can I do without? What are my skills? Could I learn some new skills?

Barbara talks a lot in this book about finding your passion. She asks questions like “What were the things you loved to do when you were a kid? What would you choose to do with your life if money was no object?” She helps you visualize. She helps motivate.

Then she talks about all the things that could be holding you back from pursuing those ideals (fears) and how you can get past those obstacles. She’s very motivating and inspiring. But a lot of the things she talks about just don’t seem to click for me, I don’t really want to work online, I’m not a computer geek and not really interested in becoming one.  I don’t want to start a business so I wind up working harder than I ever did at a job!

I want to RELAX. I want to spend my time doing things I enjoy: reading, writing, painting, making music, hanging out with interesting people, exploring new places, cooking, eating, sailing, hiking, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, beach combing, etc. I read the book, I still can’t figure out any way to make a living from one or any combination of those things. Maybe a beach bar? (If I had enough money, I could think seriously about that idea, but I’m broke!)

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. -Confucius

I totally believe that! My stepmother always used to tell me when I worried so much about something not working out “do what you love and the money will follow, the Universe is in divine order”.

Well, it always worked for her. It DID work for me when I was young and I LOVED working on those boats, before the accountants and insurance companies managed to screw it all up!

I wonder if there’s anywhere left at sea (or anywhere) where you can still just do your job, without all the extra pure bullshit they bury you in? Yeah, I’m still dreaming of that kind of life. The life of a seafarer 30-50 years ago. That would be perfect! 🙂

Another Just Jot It January post. 🙂

Sleepless Since Skink

I tried to make an early night of it last night, so I could be awake and alert all day today at the conference. I had dinner at the hotel and was in bed by 1030.

My problem started when I decided to do a little reading before turning out the light. I was reading Carl HiaasensSkink No Surrender“. I really like his style, he’s got a great sense of humor and his books are always quick reads. I’m not sure how to classify this one; young adult? mystery? comedy? adventure? It had all that and more. Like all his writing, this book kept me interested til the end.

I also like his books because they remind me so much of where I grew up in Florida. His cast of characters and the adventures they get involved in are such pure Florida, it’s almost like going home again. 🙂

Johns Pass Florida

Johns Pass Florida

This book features Skink, a character familiar from previous stories. He’s always been one of my favorites and reminds me of some of the guys I grew up with on the beach over there (Johns Pass). My dad used to rent apartments to a lot of the people who came to the beach. We had some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met come through there.

My grandmother used to wonder why I always enjoyed hanging out with all those strange characters, but they were just so interesting. Travelers from all over, musicians, fishermen, artists, bartenders, etc. I heard some fantastic stories!

Skink No Surrender tells the story of a teenage boy (Richard) who’s worried about his cousin Malley who’s disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Skink helps Richard track her down and their adventures across Florida are pretty entertaining. 🙂

I tried a few times to stop reading and turn out the lights, but then I had to continue again and again. I finally finished the book and tried to go to sleep around 0230. Last time I looked at the clock, it was almost 0400.

I had the alarm set for 0730, conference starts at 0900. I’m probably going to have a hell of a time staying awake and paying attention. 🙁

Book: The Gathering Wind

It’s been a quiet couple of days around here. I’ve been reveling in the fact that I finally found some time to just CHILL!

I wrote yesterday that I didn’t do anything except take my daily walk and cook dinner. Today I got a little bit more done. I did the laundry. 😉

I’ve been reading a good book and thought some of you might like it too. It’s called The Gathering Wind, by Gregory A. Freeman.

It’s all about the tall ship Bounty, (the replica of the one they had the mutiny on). 😉

The Gathering Storm tells the story of the ship, her captain (Robin Walbridge) and crew and how they wound up sinking in the middle of ‘Superstorm Sandy’.

It’s a pretty wild story, especially the heroic attempts by the crew to save their ship and the amazing efforts of the US Coast Guard to save the crew.

It’s a great read, a real page turner. Even tho I knew how it would turn out, it still kept me interested til the end. As a sailor, I kept wondering WHY would they do that? Head out to sea with a hurricane approaching?

The book doesn’t really give a clear answer to that question. It did have a section on the investigation of the sinking, but I would have liked more. I have my own opinion and it mostly has to do with money.

So many of these disasters at sea probably never would have happened if there was a REAL concern for safety, but ‘time is money’ and it gets harder and harder for a seafarer to find employment where the idea of safety is more than just a façade for the insurance companies!

Just a couple of weeks ago, the El Faro went down with all hands, another 33 lives. Lost in another hurricane.

Will the investigation for the El Faro come to the same conclusion? That it was all the captains fault? That only his ‘reckless decision’ was to blame?

Do you really think the captain of the El Faro (or the Bounty) would have taken the risks he did if there were no pressure from the office to ‘make the schedule’? I sure as hell don’t!

With all the new rules and regulations coming out of the IMO and various governmental bodies, I keep wondering when will they get down to the root cause of all this? The people in the OFFICE who run these ships! THEY are the ones who really make the decisions these days, the poor old captain is nothing but a scapegoat for when things go wrong!

There is only so much a captain and crew can do out there! Without the help and support of our employers, we can only do so much! Sailing around a hurricane (or through pirates, or any other extraordinarily dangerous place), is NOT something we should be doing just to save the company a few bucks!

I’m still waiting to see the day when the IMO does something that actually helps the MARINER! Putting at least SOME of the responsibility on those who really make the decisions, and off of the captain who is now only a figurehead would go a long way in fixing a lot of issues out here!

For further discussions of these incidents among the mariners who hang out on Gcaptain, (professional and otherwise), check out these links:

http://www.gcaptain.com/forum/professional-mariner-forum/10134-hms-bounty-hurricane-sandy.html

http://www.gcaptain.com/forum/maritime-news/17656-sea-star-el-faro.html

Universal Subjectivism: An Ethical Theory for the 21st Century

Universal Subjectivism: An Ethical Theory for the 21st Century

This looks like a very interesting book. I haven’t read it yet but the review in Utne Reader makes me want to try and find a copy.

I read the review and of course I agree, it would be a wonderful thing to stop all suffering. I just don’t know how to accomplish that.

The author suggests that it would be simple to just pass a law and we could stop factory farming here and so end so much suffering. I totally agree, factory farming is really a sickening situation, horrible for the animals. But how ‘simple’ would it be for us to stop it?

First of all, I’m not sure it would be simple even to pass a law like that. Our political system here is SO screwed up. Our politicians pass laws every day, THOUSANDS of pages long, they never read them, no one understands them, special interests get their little favors hidden inside somewhere, we all have to wait until the shit hits the fan to find out that maybe SOMEBODY should have READ the bills BEFORE they passed them into ‘law”!

We’re fighting Obamacare right now because of that exact same situation. Our agriculture lobby is pretty powerful too. As powerful as the insurance/pharmaceutical/medical lobby? I don’t know. I DO know they would not want to have their profits hurt even a teeny tiny bit! They’ll fight tooth and nail, spend millions of dollars to riddle whatever law comes up with benefits to them and detriments to the rest of us. That is how our politics works now a days! They ALWAYS find a way to screw the little guy! 🙁

Besides the fact that it would be a huge political issue, MY objection to the whole factory farming thing is: would it REALLY be possible to feed everybody (without destroying even more of our land and resources)? I have seen SOME things that suggest that localized, organic type farming can be just as productive, even MORE productive than factory farming, (Farmaggedon-film- was one if I remember right). It just seems so hard to believe. I would really need to learn a lot more before I’m totally convinced that is true.

The author makes the point that people starve every day tho there is enough food to feed the population of today. I would agree with that, most of the people who are starving today are in that situation because of POLITICS and not because there isn’t enough food around. Corrupt and greedy ‘rulers’ find ways to work the system to benefit themselves and their cronies and screw everyone else! The issue is getting the food (or other aid) to the people who need it. Best way to solve that problem is to get rid of politics! Get rid of ‘rulers’!! They’re nothing but thugs wearing suits!

I have to admit, I really don’t want to change my lifestyle. I’m not a vegetarian now and I don’t really want to be one. I don’t want to learn to eat worms or insects either. I travel every chance I get and I don’t want to stop doing that either. So, OK, I am not very ethical according to this author, at least according to what I can get out of the intro to the book in the review. I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t think reading the book will make me change my mind.

How in the heck are we going to get everyone to change their mindsets to this kind of ethics? That question alone makes me want to get hold of the book and find out the authors ideas. I am curious to see what other people propose to solve these sorts of problems. I can’t imagine it ever happening by choice. I have a feeling people will eventually be using force, like they say about climate change, we don’t have time to THINK about the proper kinds of solutions, it’s time for ACTION. Same old, same old here. 🙁

As usual, MY solution to the issue of suffering is the same as it is for almost every other issue… start using some BIRTH CONTROL!!!!! We sure as hell can feed 9 million people on this planet a LOT easier than we can 9 BILLION!!! We MIGHT even have some land/water/resources left over for some of the OTHER creatures on the planet if we would use our big heads instead of our little ones for a change!

To me, that would involve a whole lot less suffering for everybody. I mean, really, how hard can it be to just take a pill every day? or a depo shot every 3 months? Everybody that can have a kid, gets ONE. Maybe that policy would even encourage people to appreciate their kids for a change. 🙂

Let the people who can’t have one adopt one that is already here on this planet (instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on artificial insemination, etc). Oh, you want your own genes? Too bad, life’s not fair, it’s YOUR problem, don’t expect the rest of the world to pay just to indulge your FEELINGS. If you have the big bucks to pay for the procedure all on your own (NO insurance should cover these procedures!), then fine, maybe we’ll consider an exception if you’re some kind of genius (maybe). Instead of giving incentives to HAVE kids, give incentives to NOT have kids!

Just do the same thing as China did, establish a one child policy (must CONVINCE people of the need- NOT force them!). It shouldn’t be THAT hard. After all, most people have been convinced that people caused global warming and they’e only been spouting that story since what, the 80’s?

After a while, the population will eventually start shrinking, human suffering will lessen (and animal suffering along with it) and we can start solving the REST of the problems we have created here, such as starvation, medical care, education, engaging and fulfilling work, improving the condition of our land/water/air, maybe even make a dent in climate change. 😉

Functional Medicine for Autoimmune Diseases

Functional Medicine for Autoimmune Diseases – Mind & Body – Utne Reader.

This is a book review from Utne Reader on the new book The Immune System Recovery Plan. Dr Susan Blum MD MPH recounts her own experience with immune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) and how she has been able to cure herself and even repair her body using functional medicine rather than the usual type we get now a days. They sound like totally different fields of endeavor. 

I like how she describes the ‘new’ field of functional medicine as an approach that looks at the person as a whole, not as a collection of symptoms. I would really like to find a Dr that treated me like that. I’ve always had a hard time with that, most Drs I’ve had take one look at me and blame everything on my weight. My arm could be half chopped off, I’m spraying blood all over the place, and they would tell me I needed to go on a diet and that would fix it. 😉

Yes, it would be ideal to live in such a way that you stay healthy all the time, never get sick or come down with a disease. I just wonder how HARD will it be in reality to be able to do that? I do have to admit, I’m lazy. I don’t want to go on a strict diet. I don’t want to have to exercise for hours every day. I don’t want to take pills every day for the rest of my life either. So, is there any hope for people like me?

From reading just this article, it looks like there actually is. I have a couple of friends who swear their lives have been totally changed by ‘simple’ changes in their diets (and have lost a lot of weight). A couple of friends who’ve had their hormones adjusted and say they’ve been feeling SO much better. I remember my dad had such bad arthritis, but then he started using apple cider vinegar and it just went away. I guess I’ll have to try to find a copy of the book when I get off.