Guest Post – Canada


canada-day

In light of the shootings yesterday in the city of Ottawa, and the subsequent statements I keep hearing that our country has changed, I can’t not say something.

As a nation of people who are often accused of having an identity crisis, we ourselves wonder who we are, and how we fit in. With our English spellings and our love of American television, we have been known as the “51st State,” though when we go to court, it’s us against the Crown. When asked to define Canada we come up with adjectives like, “big,” “culturally diverse,” or “the place where poutine and insulin were invented.” We are a nation of coffee-drinking hockey players who talk about the weather and say “sorry” when someone bumps into us.

Ours is a land populated with people who care about their towns, their cities, their neighbours and their country. We’re proud of our peacefulness. So can one act of violence change that? I’m here to say, quite loudly, NO.

At the moment we are reacting, and yes, it is deeply disturbing that on an ordinary day in the nation’s capital, a soldier standing on honour guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier could be shot and killed. But while we are reacting, we are focusing on the family of the man who was lost. Because that is who we are.

It is in our nature as Canadians to pull together, to care for each other. And for all Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement that, “we will not be intimidated,” might refer to our government, it stands for our citizens as well. We CAN not be intimidated. We are nation of 35 million who feel the responsibility to protect one another.

That is something about Canada that will never change.

Linda

http://lindaghill.com/

Guest Post – FREE BOOKS


THIS IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO THOSE THAT TOOK PART!

Book reviews are the breath of life for indie publications. They are also extremely difficult to come by.

While it is possible to purchase reviews from professionals I feel this loses something of its authenticity. This is only my opinion, not a slam at what others choose to do for a living.

I am being quite open in my quest for reviews and am willing to give in order to get.

The book is a western, “The Time Of The Preacher.” It was featured in an earlier OM guest post titled “The Origins Of The Preacher”.

I have five copies to give away and they will go to the first five people to respond to this post. What I ask in return is that you have the ability to post reviews on Amazon, that you will read the book and then post your honest opinion, good , bad or indifferent.

If you are interested email me at: rixfoto@aol.com

DO NOT include your address in the initial response, I only need shipping information from the first five. I will, however, respond to everyone.

A complete description of the book may be found at:

http://sbprabooks.com/rickfontes/

If you are into western fiction (albeit a very unusual western) and willing to review the book in exchange for a signed copy then please hop onboard.

Guest Post – The Human Races: Do We Think Differently?


I recently saw an episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman which dared to address a very delicate topic: whether there are biological differences between the races that go beyond skin color. It’s certainly obvious that those differences exist. No one can dispute that the average African is taller than the average Asian, or that fair-skinned peoples are more susceptible to skin cancer, or that redheads are more likely to be Irish than Latin. But there’s a certain discomfort level that comes into play when we begin exploring the brain function of the different races, and this, I believe, is because no one wants to give the impression of being a racist by arguing that the brains of the various ethnic groups may actually operate differently from one another. But why wouldn’t they? It’s almost crazy when you think about it. If our bodies differ, then why wouldn’t our brains as well? Because the brain, just like the body, is bound to evolve to adapt to its particular environment. And historically, the various races have evolved in distinct parts of the globe. In fact, it would be a darned shame if the brains of the diverse peoples of the world were all the same; that could only mean that nature isn’t doing its job.

Here’s the crux of the matter, in my opinion: no one wants to say that someone is different because they think it implies judgment. And for some people I’m sure it does. But what those people are forgetting is that there is no objective good, better, best when it comes to humanity. There is no right path and no wrong path, only paths that lead to survival and paths that don’t. The best possible human for one environment may be ill-suited for survival in another. And at the rate at which our environment is changing, it would be difficult for anyone to predict what sort of human will be best adapted to life in the next century.

And this is where the ideas presented in the show begin to make a lot of sense. It examined hypotheses, for example, in which conditions like ADHD have been posited as natural developments in peoples who may have had a biological advantage in remaining constantly on the move. In other words, it wasn’t necessarily a mental defect; it could have been an adaptation. Opens up fascinating possibilities, doesn’t it? What if it turned out that obsessive-compulsive disorder actually derived from chaotic, filthy environments in which rigid controls and excessive handwashing were advantageous behaviors to the people engaging in them? I could almost see it. Like the tonsils or the appendix; we know they must have been useful at some point in human history, but we can no longer imagine why.

And, like the victim of the obsolete but nonetheless inflamed appendix, people with ADHD perhaps don’t function quite as well in modern society, which requires a lot of focused sitting. It makes one wonder as to the source of the current autism epidemic, for instance. Is the condition really just better diagnosed in the 21st century, or is it actually more prevalent, and if so, why? Consider this study, which found that the children of parents who work in technical jobs are more likely to be autistic – suggesting that the qualities required by modern-day white-collar positions are akin to those of autistic individuals. Disease, or adaptation gone awry?

But then why should intelligence be any different? Why do we assume that every race of people should have a brain that operates in precisely the same way as every other?

It’s been demonstrated, time and again, that, on average, blacks and Latinos have lower I.Q. scores than whites, while Jews and Asians have higher average scores. Now it’s been argued for decades that I.Q. is not a fair measure of a person’s intelligence, because the tests may be biased in favor of people with certain socioeconomic backgrounds, and I would certainly agree with this assessment without hesitation. First of all, the questions on an I.Q. test are essentially little puzzles, and, particularly when a time limit is involved, a test-taker who has been exposed to these types of problems before will grasp the intent of them more quickly and thus have a better chance of solving them. Even the most brilliant kid is going to need some time to figure out how the questions work if he or she sits down to take the SAT blind, and it’s a simple fact that the children of parents with money are more likely to have gotten an education that will have better prepared them for this type of exam.

Second, in spite of arguments to the contrary, there are or have been questions on these tests that have nothing to do with intelligence, but rather with exposure to facts. I saw a question on an I.Q. test once that related to the books of the Bible. The trick, it turned out, was to pick the New Testament one. Now how could you possibly do that if you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, which, let’s face it, even a lot of modern Christians are not? I have also seen numerous questions that relate to things like the names of cities. Me, I’ve driven cross-country fifteen times, so I feel pretty confident that I can differentiate the name of an American city from a foreign one, but that would not necessarily be true of someone who’s lived in one place their entire life.

Finally, brains or no brains, some people, I’m convinced, are simply better test-takers than others. They can answer questions quickly without getting frazzled, they learn or develop strategies for making the best use of their allotted time, and they’re not easily distracted by other test-takers, the tick of the clock, the announcements of the proctor, and so on. This, too, may be an evolved trait.

So I agree that there is bias in the I.Q. test, as much as in other types of standardized tests. However, it seems unlikely to me that this alone accounts for the racial differences in scoring, and that the main issue is that it simply isn’t politically correct to say that one race is less intelligent than another, even if it’s demonstrably true. But I say, so what if it is true? Since when is the “book-smart” kind of intelligence the ultimate measure of a man? Does intelligence make one happier, healthier, and more fulfilled? I mean, Ashkenazy Jews rank highest of all on the I.Q. scale. Oh yes, everyone envies the Jews; their intelligence has brought them such good fortune. Of course, it might also be argued that the Jews had to develop a higher intelligence in order to survive the challenges of a world which has often been hostile to them. No doubt, there is truth in that, even as there is likely truth in the presumption that native Africans were not required to develop that same type of intelligence in their own environment. They developed other qualities of equal or arguably even superior value.

Let’s set I.Q. aside for a moment and think seriously about this. If only roughly thirteen percent of Americans are black, then no one can deny that blacks are impressively overrepresented in professional sports, particularly basketball and football, and it seems fairly obvious that the reason is biological rather than socioeconomic. And let us bear in mind that sports are not only about strength, endurance, and build. Most modern games require strategy, the ability to work as part of a team, to plan several moves ahead, and to change course in the face of the unanticipated. None of which are qualities that could ever be tested for on an I.Q. test. And all of which are qualities which one would expect to find in a people who, until very recently in geologic terms, were hunters. Should the rest of us take offense if the blacks are, on average, proven to be better athletes?

And what of the overwhelming presence of African-American artists in popular music? Coincidence, environment, or adaptation? It was not the Emancipation Proclamation, and not the Christianization of the black community, but the music of African-Americans that secured them a permanent and highly valued place in American culture. White Americans were grooving to jazz and the blues in an era when segregation was still widespread, yet they found solid reasons to appreciate black talent in spite of the racism prevalent at the time. But why so many popular black musicians in the first place? One may argue that the black musical tradition dates back to the days of slavery – although in reality, it probably dates back to the time before. One may argue that art is derived from suffering and struggle. But then why do we not see as many successful African-American authors and painters and filmmakers as we do musicians? Perhaps it’s because black people, on average, really do have more rhythm and more tone. Perhaps it’s hard-wired into their genes because it was a necessity of their native lifestyles in ways that were not true of Middle-Easterners or Europeans. And what’s wrong with that?

This is not to say that intelligence should not be prized, too; rather that is not the be-all and end-all of human worth. When I open my browser to read my email, I don’t see the latest news about modern-day geniuses; I see gossip about celebrities and sports figures, the true heroes of our day. If we really place such a high value on intelligence, we have a poor way of showing it. Why then change the rules when it comes to I.Q.? If we don’t think it’s so important in real life, why does it matter what the statistics say?

No, the problem is not whether there are natural differences between the races, or whether it’s acceptable to acknowledge them, the problem is us; we don’t seem to be able to reconcile ourselves to the idea that what is generally true of a people is not necessarily true of an individual. If the average Latino has a lower I.Q. than the average Jew, that doesn’t mean that if you meet a Latino and a Jew together, you should assume that the Jew is smarter, or the Latino more adept at soccer. You shouldn’t assume that the six-foot-five black man is better at basketball than the mid-sized white guy because that’s what the averages say. And if you do make such foolish assumptions, you can make one sure bet in regards to the intelligence of the people involved: you’re the dumbest.

What is perhaps most interesting is that this approach to racial differentiation supports the idea that the United States of America could, objectively speaking, actually be the greatest country in the world. Nowhere else is there such an intermingling of races, and the strength of each race is increasingly present in our children and our children’s children. Isn’t it even possible that, biologically speaking, our bodies have recognized the advantages of being multi-racial? It’s not only the U.S. that’s become diversified, after all; you see it increasingly in most of the other nations of the world as well. I read once about a study that was done in which women were given men’s sweaty shirts to sniff. The scents they found most appealing were those belonging to men who carried different immunities from them. Maybe we, too, are seeking other immunities, other qualities that are more highly developed in the various races of our fellow men.

It’s foolish to judge mankind by his intelligence. The dinosaurs didn’t exactly represent the height of intellect, and they were far more successful than we will ever be, and probably lasted a lot longer than we will, too. What it all boils down to isn’t smarts or strength or compassion or beauty, but the unique combinations of qualities that exist in all humans that make them fit to survive. And in a rapidly changing global environment, the race will go perhaps not to the swiftest or the brightest. The fittest humans of the future may be those who are quickest to adapt.

Lori Schafer
http://lorilschafer.com

Guest Post – To Defying M.A.C Perfection


naked

Call me absurd, strange, Miss. Piggy perhaps but today I defied our cultural vanity obsession. I denied myself the indulgence of staring at myself in the mirror for 30 minutes picking at my faults, admiring what I hate about myself and focusing on how much I should really save for that nose job, after the boob job that I haven’t, nor ever will, book. I went to work without make-up, and guess what. The sky did not come crashing down. My world did not stop dead. I did not get “ugly bitch” abuse on my way, neither did I at all throughout the day. I didn’t even get the, “are you OK? You look rough” No I did not. Why? You may ask. I will tell you. It is because I do not give a shit and when I do wear make-up it really is very minimal because at work I am not on the pull, trying to bring sexy back or be a Barbie doll. No, I am not.

Please make no mistake. I did not look like death, or shit, nor like I’d been dragged through a hedge on the way. I of course brushed my hair and it was neat. I of course wore the appropriate attire. I of course remained presentable. I just did not look like a tart. I’m jesting, but my point is that is it really such a big deal?

Not so long ago there was the “No Make-Up Selfie” for Cancer campaign. A lot of women did it. It worked and was effective in getting cancer and donating back on our national conscious. However I did notice that many women opted out of baring their face for all to see, their ugly, tired, drawn, disgusting make-up free faces and instead chose to just donate. I do not think that their faces are ugly, but I assume this must be what the fear was – but seriously, how much wonder can some foundation and eye-liner REALLY work? As if you look like Shrek without it? Oh, come on girls. This is ridiculous, can you not see?

I don’t delve into the likes of TOWIE too much as it’s not my “scene” – if you couldn’t tell already – but each time I have caught glimpses or have seen advertisements I am shocked by how much make-up they’re wearing for…for what? To go to the supermarket, wash the car, or have a cuppa in the kitchen. Here we have some “normal” people sitting for a cuppa and a bit of “hot goss” in the kitchen dressed like they ought to really be queuing outside of the West End’s Mahiki. I mean, what do they even wear when they do go out? But this it seems is a capsulated epitome of what we are like as a nation now. In the age of perpetual selfies and vanity dating apps like Tinder taking the reigns on who we are compatible with, it really is no surprise.

I do not know exactly where this culture comes from. Maybe the beauty industries, maybe social pressures, or maybe, oh my fucking god am I really going to say this? ourselves. We are pressuring each other to be picture perfect 24/7 and ultimately, it is a cycle within which we succumb and pressure ourselves, bullying our shattering self-esteems into the ground unless my locks look Toni&Guy perfect and my face M.A.C beautiful. When I hear men talking about women on a scale of 0 – 10 my inners scrunch up in anger – and even more so if they’re slating a potential 7 whilst barely scraping a 3 themselves if we really must subject everyone to a beauty scale rating. When I hang out and my friends won’t go to the shop for milk unless they’ve literally been getting ready forever I just seethe with not only the frustration of the wait, but also the frustration at the pure shame that it is to feel like that – and it is no exception. Even more so when I hear stories of people getting up before their boyfriends to apply their daily face because they’re ashamed to be seen bare naked. It makes me just want to throw whatever I may be holding in my hand on the floor and look at them both to shout, “what the hell is wrong with you?”

And then shout from the top of the Shard, “what the fuck is wrong with us?” because you know what, we should be able to be bare naked and not feel ugly. It is nice to wear make-up. It is a nice little confidence boost but it is not, NOT a required daily mask. We do not HAVE to look picture perfect every moment of every day. There is more to life. There is more to us, to me and to you. We are more than a “hot selfie babes” or a “wanna fuck? PM me” or whatever tag lines people are using on Tinder (I’m obviously not a user). We are so blinded by aiming for a sheer perfection that we miss what is around us, and what is underneath all that slap and six packs. I’ll let you in on a secret though, perfection is an elusive notion: you will never be perfect.

What I’m really getting at is, just fuck it! It is so liberating to go out without makeup on and just enjoy my day. It is amazing to know that I won’t get dumped when my other half sees my bare naked face because they know what I look like at not only my best, not only my worst but also my natural. Additionally, the irony is that the less crap I put on my face the better my skin. An ample intake of water, a wash, some moisturiser, and SPF 15+ will do me for today thank you. Sometimes I will push the boat out as far as foundation, under-eye and mascara but I won’t be looking like I belong in Mahiki whilst I’m having a coffee date with a mate, doing the weekly shop or breaking a sweat in the gym: besides if your make-up doesn’t slip off whilst your at the gym you’re doing it wrong anyway.

So boys, be nice like your mother taught you, less misogynistic than patriarchy taught you, and more respectful like morality taught you. If you want a wife she is a life partner not just a fuck buddy, so it helps to be more compatible than just looks – and ladies, you are as beautiful as you make yourself feel with or without fake eyelashes and perfect lippy. As for me, I am going to stick with how I am and next time a wonderful asshole guy calls me out on not wearing make-up and maybe scraping a 5 on his “sexy scale” I will have a thick rubber glove in my bag so I can bitch-slap that motherfucker – because my point is, how dare he!

I write about mental health at: theimmuredlion.wordpress.com

Guest Post – Did I Have A Brush With Death Today?


No, nothing so dramatic or notable as an auto accident or a shooting. But, what would you call losing a few hours out of your day without the aid of alcohol or drugs?

I woke up around 6:00 PM, feeling as though I was lucky to even be alive this evening, and spent the next 10 minutes crying like a baby. Nobody noticed. Nobody cared. So, am I truly lucky to be alive today? Allow me to explain.

Today was an extremely hot day. Temperatures easily reached over 100 degrees and the sun showed no mercy as it beat down upon the people below. For a living, I do physical labor for the most part. I am up and down ladders a couple hundred times a day, carry loads of extreme weight and/or size, and try to put out 100% of myself accomplishing my tasks. But, this is what is expected of a man in today’s society if he wants to draw a minimum wage. The problem however is; I am a 57 year old overweight smoker.Today I believe I learned the significance of being such.

By noon today I was a puddle of sweat, was having difficulty breathing, my mind had gone foggy, and there was no escape. When lunch time came, I could not eat. I had spent the morning trying to survive the heat by consuming so much water that I “sloshed” when I walked. Shortly after lunch I told the boss I needed to go to the hospital. I felt as if I was going to vomit and was borderline passing out. Instead of going to the hospital I had the boss take me to my motorcycle which was at the company shop. My intention was to ride my bike to the hospital so I would have a ride there when released. I was barely coherent when I fired up my motorcycle to head to the hospital. I never made it there, ending up at home instead. Now mind you, I was headed for the hospital and made no conscious decision otherwise. Regardless, I ended up at home. It was likely about 1:00 to 1:30 PM at the time but I do not recall ever arriving home.

The next thing I am aware of, is it is around 6:00PM and I feel like hell. And, I do not recall ever coming home. Then the implications of my day registered to my mind and tears filled my eyes. For the first time in my life, I know fear. Not just the feeling of being afraid of something you can avoid, but the fear of realizing that today could have been my last. For about 10 minutes I sobbed like a friggin baby. Even the people in the room with me didn’t notice. Not that I would want them to. I just noted that they didn’t, thus saving me the un-necessary embarrassment. Frankly, losing a few hours of my day scares the hell out of me. This is the first time in my life that I have no recollection of what I have done, where I have been, or how I got to and fro.

My neighbor just hollered at me, asking how I felt. When I approached him just now he told me that I didn’t look like myself. He told me he saw me when I came in earlier. It seems I was white as a ghost, sweating bullets, and like I was about to Fall out.” But, I was still able to be courteous enough to stop and allow some children to pass across my driveway before I drove in. Well even as bad off as I was, I was still a gentlemen. That puts it all in perspective, maybe I won’t act like a damn fool on the way out. I guess I should not be concerned about this, they can rebuild me.

Of course, I am going to make light of this. Yes, we have the technology. They can rebuild me. They can fix what I have broke, then rebuild me. They can make me faster, stronger, and even better looking. Why doesn’t that make me feel any better. I think I should stay home from work tomorrow, perhaps find my way to the hospital/doctor’s office and let them give me a diagnostic followed by a tune up and oil change, I hope. . . . They gave ma an appointment in August and told me to come into Emergency if I had further difficulties

Most of us have one thing in common, we abuse our body. We drink, smoke, dope, work, work harder, and play vigorously. All at a cost to our body. Sure some of these things can be good for your body, but not in excess. And, many of us tend to do too much without regard for the consequences. My advice after 57 years in this life . . . Smoking is stupid, booze and dope maybe in moderation, and a healthy diet is an absolute necessity. Heed my words on this, you will be glad you did.

Do you wonder what happens to you after death? Is there an afterlife? Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? Or, do we just become worm food and that is the end of it. Is this the point when even atheists pray to God? I have led a full life, I guess. No I haven’t. I have led a “shit” life, full of bullshit and waste. I have loved and been loved, yet nothing had permanence. In my younger years I was at the top of my game, in everything. Only to lose it all once I became older. I have not yet made my mark upon this world. Will I be given a chance in the next life? Is there a next life? Oh Lord, please tell me there is another after this one . . .

http://richbrunelle.wordpress.com/

Guest Post – Five Mistakes I Made as a New Blogger


I’m still relatively new out here but I was your poster blogger for clueless newbies a year ago. I wasn’t familiar with blogs; it was a friend who introduced me to WordPress. Once he sat me in my dash and taught me how to pilot the thing, I just wrote like I was drunk. Well, writing is one thing but getting it out there another. These are some things I wish I’d known in the cyberworld fresh off the ship from Earth.

1. Don’t wait last-minute to come up with a good title. After putting in all that thought and time into the post, I would scrounge for a good title just before publishing. There were times I didn’t do justice to the text just because I hadn’t prepared. I’ve since learned: good title, good views. It’s our first – and possibly last – shot at inviting a reader in. It should be catchy or intriguing and while it pegs the topic, you don’t want it giving everything away. Though a finished post will often suggest its own title, I now sometimes mull it over before or during the writing. Point is, I don’t want to be grasping at straws at the eleventh hour.

2. Deleting a category will create 404 “Page not found” links. WordPress Support said, “all the category links assigned to the posts will become broken links in search engine results. Every time a person anywhere online clicks that deleted category link they will be presented with a 404. The exact error message they see will vary from theme to theme.” So especially if you’re starting out in blogosphere, give good thought to the categories you create. I don’t think you want detailed technical advice from me. I might break your blog. Ask Support if you’d like more information.

3. Don’t tag out the wazoo. WordPress will accept up to 15 tags and categories combined on a post. Exceed the limit, and your tags will not appear in the Reader. You are way ahead of me. I didn’t even know what tags were those first few months!

4. But everyone’s doing it. I wrestled at first with the notion that I had to step out on social media to build my blog, though I had no idea where I’d find the time. Then I came to see some bloggers are able to harness media platforms more effectively than others and I don’t need to spread myself thin trying. I don’t need to anything. It helps that I love my WordPress community of readers.

5. Good luck Ostrich Blogging. I did not know the heart of blogging is relationships. I told you: I knew nothing about blogging but that I could write my art out. I didn’t know to read other blogs or to introduce myself out here. Naturally, my readership took its time growing in the beginning. I hope your head’s not in the sand. Make friends and support others, and you’ll attract like-minded readers. Hope you do better than I did.

Wayfarer on A Holistic Journey