Diigo Links

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm in a writer's group. We use a "seed" every week. Write 600 words in an hour and publish to each other. Here are four of mine. I'll bold the seeds.

Asif Azhar ul Husnain had been working in these fields for five of his nine years. He could remember two things his father would say; "Cutting is one thing -- building for the future another." and the second is almost considered a greeting in this part of the world; "Insha'Alah" - if it be God's will. And with these two sides of the coin of life, Asif was minted.

Today he cut. Tomorrow he scraped. The third day he'd roll out measured kilos of resin. The fourth day he'd walk to market. The fifth day, sell. The sixth day walk back home. The seventh day rest. Every day punctuated by five stops for prayers. And for many weeks of the warmer months, this measure of seven over five beats would sing Asif's life, a traditional folk song.

At just nine years old he was able to carry, strip down, build up, load, aim and fire both a Kalashnikov and an M16; the former a common skill among his peers, the latter something a bit more exotic. Asif's father had been a fairly good speaker of English, and had managed to teach Asif enough to make him valuable to American soldiers.

One of his favourite pastimes with soldiers was to try to convince them that the AK-47 was a better gun than the M16. And when they challenged him, he'd suggest a race. He'd put some money on it, and bet he could strip down and build up his AK faster than they could their M16. Sometimes he'd even pool-shark the naive young soldiers, sandbagging to lose. And then go for best two out of three, double-or-nothing. And then in a bid to maybe show he was up for an even fight, he'd offer them to race with two M16s. Soldiers feeling like they were on their own home turf, fell right into this one. But they were no match for the smaller, more nimble hands of this nine year old boy. These guns were his gameboy.

But too much mixing with the invaders was inevitably problematic. He was tending the same fields the Americans had come to clear. And it was today, while he cut, when they arrived, that he made his decisions on just how he would build for his future. In all of the years before he was born his father had been working this land. He'd been working this land with this crop. Poppies grew well here in the southwest, and the market was mature and reasonably stable.

A command had been given the week before. A plan had been drawn up. The Americans had come to execute the plan, to change the lives of everyone in his province. The plan was to change the crop. The plan was to get rid of the poppies. The execution of this plan was performed in a simple, single step. The crop was gotten rid of. The music of Asif's life lurched atonally from seven-over-five to a straight five beats of his heart to the measure. Everything became uncertain, everything but his resolve to find God's will, to know.

Asif with little more than some food and his Kalashnikov took to the greater country, in search of his father.


=-=-=-=-=-=-= On Self-Reliance ==-=-=-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-==

"Listen to this claptrap, Pete; "Up to 80,000 people marched to the

Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison last Saturday as part of an
ongoing protest against newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s
attempt to not just badger the state’s public employee

unions, but to break them.
” Bloody commies. March 'em right in to the
lake, the lot of 'em."

Edward "Pete-o" Frampton, sat reading a week-old paper, blown in by
the winds, stuck to the fence, talking only to his dog and a
box of hammers. I say "box of hammers", someone can be said to be
"smart as a box of hammers" in the proverbial, but Pete-o
was sitting with his actual hammers. Pete-o is a troglodite. People
also use that word in the proverbial. Similar meaning. But no,
Pete-o lived alone in the ground, in a hole of his own digging:
Coober Pedy, SA 29°01'S, 134°43'E.

Pete-o'd been digging his opal mine for the past 26 years. He'd done
well enough to know that all one needs-do is work hard,
and rely on one’s self. He'd been in a union, the Demolitions,
Turners, Fitters and Cafeteria Workers Union of South Australia,
Local 444. That's where, as a young cafeteria worker (dish-pig) he'd
been indoctrinated into the magically, catastrophically,
chemically decomposing world of explosives. The opals were just an
ends to a mean.

Above-ground was nearing 43degC; whereas down in his hole it was an
easy 28. Pete-o was not looking
forward to going out, but he had a good feeling about today. He always
knew when he was on to something, because his dog (also called Pete)
would take an interest in the tailings (pissing on the big pile of
dirt). A dog learns that when they hit opal, everybody eats better.

The pair made their way to the surface with an armful of explosives,
fuse and detonator caps from the strong-box under
Pete-o's bed. It was rude out, bleak, and windless. The flies were up.
It probably took more time to start the ute than it
did to drive to the other hole on the claim. "The New Hole" had only
been going for the past 5 years. Pete-o had taken a few years
to notice Pete pissing on the same spot every day. It only took one
charge to pay back that day's work in opals, yielding
Pete a month's worth of wet-food. Happy days.

Today's schedule allowed forty-five minutes for Pete-o to set the
charge. This solemn task was executed with precision, to the
minute. For his part, Pete, in the ultimate expression of rugged
individualism, had caught a lizard and was bloody muzzled, lying
under the ute, gnawing on the wriggling tail. Exactly seven minutes
after the fuse was lit, the charge went off. Despite Pete-o's dish
-pig pedigree, stained coveralls and a generally grumpy disposition,
he was precise with his explosives. A true professional.

By sunset, the wheat had been separated from the chaff - in the
proverbial. The best of the day was loaded into the ute, leaving
the rest for a finer sieve, a cooler day. Before attempting to start
the ute for home, Pete-o sat with the door open, his boot hooked on
the sill, looking off into the distance. Pete jumped out over his lap,
cantered off to a familiar spot, and lifted his leg. He looked back at
the man in the ute. Pete-o, as if having just breathed some cool fresh
air, managed; "Well my friend, looks like we'll live to see another

-=-=-=-=-==-=-=- as in Beer =-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-

(time yourself reading this - seriously, get out a timer and time this)

Free speech is great in theory. But is it worth the price? We've got people with very little idea, happily chugging away at keyboards, spewing barely cohesive thoughts, like contagion from their minds to ours. When speech is free you see a flood of words on the marketplace of ideas, crowding-out the true conduits to valuable, ordered thought. How to increase the speech of value, to amplify signal, to attenuate noise?

I say, not free speech, but speech at its fair market value. In fact, we should consider a user-pays option. That's right, I'm suggesting we make the bastards pay for every word. Watch how quickly the shorter forms return - tax law as haiku:

The summer wages
Measure the phase of the moon
Such percent is paid

What's this? Oh, the poor? Oh, the poor. You're right, they should have their say. We peg the cost of speech to your carbon footprint. We stop all carbon trading in hard currency, and shift it to words. Develop a speculators market and trading floor for speech. The poor can convert their unused subsidised word-wage into cash. Feed back a portion of the revenue to subsidize words for farmers, miners, and auto-workers, because they always seem to need... (a percentage perhaps determined by the the phase of the moon?)

Possible downsides:
Beware unscrupulous wordsmythes, tranching junk-words and selling them as beat poetry!
Resurgent mimes

But by far, far and away, the best knock-on effect would be the discovery of free silence. Sure, it's free right now. But it's one of the crowding-out victims of our current glut of free speech. People could once again discover the wonder in utterance abstinence.
Check this out: Stop your timer. We're at about 300 words right now. Sit in total silence for the duration of the next 300 words. See how nice that sounds, and you can call us even.

---------------------==============<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||(((((((((((((({{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{ "Free speech is good in theory." I knew he was baiting me. Andy had been in this place for almost a week now. No belts, no shoe strings. I mean, how can you even begin to convince a paranoid psychotic that they're not being watched when they actually are? Then all of a sudden, as if my lapse into silence were a provocative contradiction, I was subjected to the most confident and strident case against free speech this side of the Berlin Wall.

After about seven minutes of fairly analytical reasoning we lifted off high into the air. At some point, I think it was around, oh, how did he put it? "Entropy needs Love, for what it dissembles to grow in- that's what I call the Jesus factor...." ( a directly recognisable rip-off of Burroughs I noted) at which point, with a gentle "ya" followed by a wavering "ya", a stream of tears. He'd walked himself right back into that corner where the love of Jesus, the death of Jesus on the cross, all that meaning became immense and personal. In his mind at that moment, he was the son of God.

And I have to say, it was an amazing moment. I could not help but get a real contact-high being around Andy when he was all ecstatic. I felt a bit guilty actually. Because I kinda felt like I enabled him to fly, whereas Mum and Dad would usually call for a nurse to up the dose to bring him back to ground (a bit lower actually). He cried, no, he sobbed for a full ten minutes. He collected himself a bit. He looked up at me. I think he'd forgotten, well, just about everything about everyone. And when his eyes met mine, he softened.

Andy then did something a little bit remarkable. He went to the little sink in the en-suite he shared with a guy named Emory. When Andy returned, he had a small bowl with warm water, and a wash-cloth. He knelt down just in front of me, and he said; "I'm going to wash your feet."

Now, I'm not a religious person. I know about this sort of thing, but I've never participated in nor would Andy have done any feet washing in life - other than our own. His earnest, ay, solemn posture got me over the hump of disbelief. And as if time stood still, I removed my shoes and socks and my brother, for the first time probably ever, in silence, washed my feet.

And I'll tell you, as weird as it was; it was also profound for me. No matter he was mad as a hatter. I'm not even sure it mattered that he was my brother. I mean, here was this human being, washing this other human being's feet, as a (for my part, totally godless) religious gesture. And it struck me, maybe he was right. Maybe free speech is overrated and maybe the Jesus Factor is undergrown.

"Do they expect to die doing what they love?"
"I expect they do, my liege. But for want of any better curse I can think of none. For I know not a man for whom the object of love is old age. And on my life, I pray the Lord to take me only there-for the richness of my years. By this logic, I believe it impossible to die well at what one loves."
"I see no chance for me - more likely that I expire not near the end one of these soliloquy. Please, take my leave, and let it be yours."
"As you express, sire."
Young Sedgwick left his lord to ponder upon the parapet wall. The kindest name one could think to call this lord, his name, Sir Carl of Slough, was seldom called in truth. More often referred to as Sir Carl the Lame, or Sir Carl the Feckless, or Sir Carl of the Titted Bull. Such was his standing, perhaps undesserv'd.
Pondered from his vantage, the tournament of knights raged below. While invited in word, Sir Carl had not been expected. Carl of Slough struggled to fulfil his knightly duties for want of apt breeding. In body he was cherubic, his complexion a delicate, translucent alabaster. This pure aspect was offset by the deadness of small grey eyes and large mouth in such disarray, appeared as a freshly ploughed field of stone and mud.
It had been his life to meddle at a middle level, to collect tax here, to issue mandate there. He could this day see beyond honourable games, stalls of an emerging mercantile. Business trading in small things, many times over, was overtaking the promise of so many alchemists and wizards and knights. Sir Carl could see ends spell'd in duckets. Would it not come soon enough for him to see, and perchance, to catch?
As catch can, and soon enough, did our Sir Carl gather by favour and foul, ship, cart, a man or two with this commerce in mind. He wagered heavily on the base products of digging in the ground and gathering what would look like dirty earth, salt peter, limestone, et al.. For although he knew the alchemists and wizards be frauds, he also saw in their alchemy something afoot. About him, fellow brothers in arms spent down in tithe and campaign fortunes amounted by their fathers' conquest. Carl quietly gathered wealth anew.
A new campaign was announced to make new inroads toward routing the Moors. This crusade would see the Light of the Church bestow'd upon the know'n world.
Calling forth Sedgewick; "Listen to my intent boy, and know your instruction. In the camp beyond the games there are dealers in every thing. You can see them, yes?"
"Yes, my liege."
"Fair. Now with this campaign will come provisioning. And with this provisioning will come a scarcity. Whatever potato the King does not commandeer will have the value of its weight in gold this winter. But for the next hours we'll know whatever price to be slight in compare. Have our man, in full discretion, down to the market to purchase in bulk. And have him make in haste his haul to ship. And with the wind our short sail make investment around some foggy islands - I care not to know the details - only to return after such days as it takes a Grail Quest to be undertaken by fools-errant. In this way our own alchemy will turn a potato to gold. On this I wager my title! which may become you much the more."
"Sire, I take your instruction, and will not trouble to take the wager, as I know there's nothing in it for me. As from this business it's doubtless we'll be wealthy and headless the both. But with discretion sire, as you express so it shall be done."

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