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Rural life

March 12, 2011

I didn’t touch the computer for two days and when I finally sat down and switched it on there was the inevitable backlog of unread emails in my inbox. I cleared the inbox and in the process of doing that was reading all the news feeds and was following all the links to get the latest infos about the state of the world.

I read for three hours and made notes and saved/sorted a lot of tex files and I’m terrible tired now and rather would like to go to bed than start writing and converting all the conflicting thoughts in my head into a coherent one-dimensional text that is nevertheless sophisticated enough to let the reader guess what I mean or maybe even is one of the rare ingenious pieces of writing that enables the reader to recompile the string of words into a true representation of my state of mind in her or his head.

No, I for sure don’t suffer from writer’s block, every time I sit down on the keyboard, my fingers fly and paragraph after paragraph of my very own writing appears on the screen. I don’t suffer from writer’s block, but I certainly suffer from information overload. I’m drowsed, dazed, stoned, numbed, narcotized, anesthetized, and nearly knocked out by the myriads of information bits and bytes.

I’m not completely confused and clueless yet. And this text is part of my ongoing desperate but determined and maybe even to some degree successful attempt to detoxify my brain from the poisonous information sludge and to rewire and restructure my neurons and synapses and to re-uptake and rebalance the neurotransmitters. I will not drown in the information deluge and I will not lose focus.

Yes I can — LOL. No I can’t, I will not fool myself and I will not try to fool anybody else, but I shall overcome! We shall overcome!

While reading the news feeds and following the links to get the latest infos about the state of the world (which will be miserable in any case with or without me reading about), I realized that every single news report confirmed my views and I started to wonder why? Why am I so terribly and completely right?

After a long and eventful life with a long history of self-betrayal, self-delusion, self-righteousness and hypocrisy I’m of course aware that my brain filters and distorts the incoming informations and twists and turns and reshapes them so that they fit into the existing patters in my memory and don’t conflict with existing engrams.

I never will be able to rule out that I’m wrong, My personal reality is the activity in my brain with action potentials sent down the axons and calcium waves of glial cells and changing levels of neurotransmitters. Considering the apparent limitations of my senses and my intelligence, how can I be sure about whats going on around me? How can I be sure about whats going on in far away places?

I usually double check the informations using various sources and I compare it with what I hear from my neighborhood and with what I see around me. Lets do it:

What I read in the news:

The US media discussed domestic violence incidents involving actor Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and politician Scott Bundgaard.

Forbes 400. The richest 400 people in USA own more stuff and have more cash and assets than half of the rest of the population (150million.) Most of the Forbes 400 are white males, only 35 are women, Winfrey Oprah is the only black woman.

Millions of dead fish are floating in Redondo Beach, California. The fish were probably killed by hypoxia (lack of oxygen resulting from algae bloom caused by nitrogen runoff from industrialized agriculture and increased by a warming of the oceans). BTW: New research shows that fish are apparently conscious of and can suffer from pain like mammals and birds (the hooks in the mouth must hurt terribly!)

The FAO reports that about 925 million people were undernourished in 2010. Giving women the same tools and resources as men, including financial services, education and access to markets, could increase agricultural production in developing countries by up to 4 percent. Another UN report finds, that small-scale sustainable farming would double food production.

Mexico approves a GM maize pilot project and the US Department of Agriculture has approved GM alfalfa, GM sugar beets, and a GM salmon. GM rice which produces human proteins is also set to be approved for commercial production.

The decline of honey bees (colony collapse) is now a global phenomenon. This is significant because of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.

A year after the BP oil spill began, many Gulf Coast residents are sick and some are suffering from life threatening conditions (caused by BP’s toxic chemicals?)

In 1971, the number of cancer survivors in the USA was three million, in 2007 11.7 million.

After the devastating earthquake in Japan, radiation has leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants and the authorities are acting under the presumption that a meltdowns has taken place in two reactors. An explosion destroyed the building around reactor one and workers have suffered radiation exposure. Radioactive steam was released from six reactors at both earthquake effected plants in an effort to relieve the pressure building up inside — the reactors have lost the emergency cooling capacity. It is assumed that fuel rods may have already melted in three reactors. 200.000 people have been evacuated until now.

Gaddafi’s forces drive out rebels from Sirte, Ras Lanouf, Zawiyah and gain momentum.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians leave 13 Egyptians dead. The army tried repeatedly to clear Tahrir Square, beating demonstrators, dismantling their tents and breaking up an informal medical clinic. Human rights groups accuse the military police of torturing as well as arbitrarily detaining protesters and activists over the past two weeks.

What I hear from my neighborhood:

I live in a small and remote village in the country side. There are farms nearby and a church and a cemetery. The next factories are about twelve kilometers away. I have not much contact with the indigenous population, my wife, who is very open and communicative, manages the personal contacts and shields and isolates me from the village folks. A few month ago I was featured in a newspaper report and though the report was very friendly and well meant, I was depicted as somehow unusual and elitist. The local people know now, that I’m definitely not one of them.

Three pensioners in their early 60s made a tourist trip to Egypt just before the uprising began. They were flown home after a few days and were terribly upset about the unrest. My wife has contact with them and what she told me indicates, that this people are oblivious, don’t understand anything, and don’t want to understand anything. They travelled to Egypt because it is warm even in deepest winter and one can look at mummies and treasures of the pharaohs.

One of the pensioners was devastated because his grandson died in a car accident one week after they came back from Egypt. The grandson, a 21 year old boy, was visiting his grandparents and left late in the night. He overtook another car and crashed with high speed head-on into a truck. When my wife told me about this tragic accident I responded: “fortunately it was a truck, not a bicycle rider.” This is a road where I regularly ride my bike and I would have had not chance of survival, if I would have been on the road. I would have flown 20 meters through the air and hopefully would have been killed instantly — I wouldn’t like to vegetate in the intensive care unit of a hospital or spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

My wife was angry about my laconic response and I had to explain to her that I feel with the grandparents and that I understand their grief. I also told her that I was confronted with the tragic results of reckless driving many times before. 12 years ago my physician, who was a bike and fitness enthusiast and who cycled 30 km every day, was slaughtered by a young car driver. A close family friend and two fellow cyclists were liquidated by an overtaking car. The statistics are telling: The most likely cause of death for men in their 20s are car accidents. There are unfortunately no numbers about how many innocent victims they take with them.

Two weeks ago the father of a friend of my wife died of cancer. In the music school a colleague is on sick leave, he was diagnosed with leukemia. This is a 26 year old man, a saxophone teacher. He was the replacement of a colleague who retired early and is battling lever cancer since one year. The cancer is seemingly incurable but the doctors can keep him alive. In January a pupil of the music school, a nine year old girl, died of leukemia and one week later a former member of my gospel choir died of stomach cancer. She was 43 years old and leaves her husband and two young daughters behind. People tell me that the ontological wards of the hospitals are overrun with cancer patients. I am scared — I’m a cancer survivor myself.

Last month a villager beat up his wife. Neighbors saw her fleeing from the house with two little children on her arms, blood running down her face. She stayed in a women’s safe house in a nearby town till she could get hold of her third child and she lives now with her parents. The court issued an injunction that the men is not allowed to get near her and has to leave the house (which belongs to her), but he refuses to move out and the authorities are not able to evict him till the divorce process is completed. The man is very religious and spends several hours a week in the church praying. He often organized community prayer vigils and other religious activities. Many villagers are voicing their sympathy for him.

The catholic priest here is a young and open minded person. He was demoted and transferred to this remote parish when church authorities found out that he was living together with a woman. His girlfriend came with him but she has rented a flat nearby — they have learned and don’t take no chances.

The 17 year old son of a neighbor is unemployed. He was an apprentice but the company fired him for serious mischief. He has no chance of getting any job anytime soon. The boy often meets with friends who are also unemployed and they terrorize the neighborhood with loud music from car stereos. A friend of my wife who lives in closer proximity complained that she often cannot sleep because he listens to loud pop music all the night. I once saw him parading with an airsoft gun, I hope that he will not be able to get his hands on real firearms.

Beside this annoyance it is very quiet here. Tractors will pass by more frequently when the farming season starts in earnest. The tractors are huge vehicles, they are like battle tanks. They use lot of diesel fuel and the farmers complain about high gas prices. Many farmers consider switching to biofuels. If the gas price goes through the roof they could use the biofuel for their tractors to grow and harvest biofuels. It would be a perfect bio-cycle.

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No contradictions found.

2 comments

  1. Nice Blog with Excellent information

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    Like



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